Noncoding transcription controls downstream promoters to regulate T-cell receptor alpha recombination

EMBO J. 2007 Oct 17;26(20):4380-90. doi: 10.1038/sj.emboj.7601866. Epub 2007 Sep 20.


The T early alpha (TEA) promoter in the murine Tcra locus generates noncoding transcripts that extend across the 65 kb Jalpha array. Here, we have analyzed the significance of TEA transcription for Tcra locus regulation through the targeted introduction of a transcription terminator downstream of the TEA promoter. We demonstrate that noncoding transcription driven by this single promoter can instruct both positively and negatively the activity of downstream Jalpha promoters, and can similarly instruct alterations in Jalpha chromatin structure and Jalpha recombination. TEA transcription activates promoters associated with relatively proximal Jalpha segments and stimulates histone acetylation, histone methylation and chromatin accessibility in this region. In contrast, at more distal locations, TEA transcription inhibits promoter activity through transcriptional interference and suppresses chromatin accessibility. In combination, these effects target initial Valpha-to-Jalpha recombination to TEA-proximal Jalpha segments and promote the ordered usage of the Jalpha array. The ability of TEA transcription to coordinate the activity of multiple downstream promoters maximizes the biological potential of the Jalpha array and diversifies the Tcra repertoire.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Histones / chemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / genetics*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / physiology*
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta