TRF2 and the evolution of the bilateria

Genes Dev. 2014 Oct 1;28(19):2071-6. doi: 10.1101/gad.250563.114.


The development of a complex body plan requires a diversity of regulatory networks. Here we consider the concept of TATA-box-binding protein (TBP) family proteins as "system factors" that each supports a distinct set of transcriptional programs. For instance, TBP activates TATA-box-dependent core promoters, whereas TBP-related factor 2 (TRF2) activates TATA-less core promoters that are dependent on a TCT or downstream core promoter element (DPE) motif. These findings led us to investigate the evolution of TRF2. TBP occurs in Archaea and eukaryotes, but TRF2 evolved prior to the emergence of the bilateria and subsequent to the evolutionary split between bilaterians and nonbilaterian animals. Unlike TBP, TRF2 does not bind to the TATA box and could thus function as a new system factor that is largely independent of TBP. We postulate that this TRF2-based system served as the foundation for new transcriptional programs, such as those involved in triploblasty and body plan development, that facilitated the evolution of bilateria.

Keywords: RNA polymerase II; TBP; TRF2; bilateria; evolution; regulatory systems.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Body Patterning / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • TATA-Binding Protein Associated Factors / genetics*
  • TATA-Binding Protein Associated Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics*


  • TATA-Binding Protein Associated Factors