Transcription factor effector domains

Subcell Biochem. 2011;52:261-77. doi: 10.1007/978-90-481-9069-0_12.


The last decade has seen an incredible breakthrough in technologies that allow histones, transcription factors (TFs), and RNA polymerases to be precisely mapped throughout the genome. From this research, it is clear that there is a complex interaction between the chromatin landscape and the general transcriptional machinery and that the dynamic control of this interface is central to gene regulation. However, the chromatin remodeling enzymes and general TFs cannot, on their own, recognize and stably bind to promoter or enhancer regions. Rather, they are recruited to cis regulatory regions through interaction with site-specific DNA binding TFs and/or proteins that recognize epigenetic marks such as methylated cytosines or specifically modified amino acids in histones. These "recruitment" factors are modular in structure, reflecting their ability to interact with the genome via one region of the protein and to simultaneously bind to other regulatory proteins via "effector" domains. In this chapter, we provide examples of common effector domains that can function in transcriptional regulation via their ability to (a) interact with the basal transcriptional machinery and general co-activators, (b) interact with other TFs to allow cooperative binding, and (c) directly or indirectly recruit histone and chromatin modifying enzymes.

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly
  • Chromatin*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Transcription Factors* / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Transcription Factors