An HMG-like protein that can switch a transcriptional activator to a repressor

Nature. 1994 Sep 8;371(6493):175-9. doi: 10.1038/371175a0.


One protein can activate some genes and repress others in the same cell. The Drosophila protein Dorsal (which, like the human protein NF-kappa B3, is a member of the Rel family of transcriptional activators) activates the twist gene and represses the zen gene in the ventral region of early embryos. Here we describe a Drosophila HMG1 protein, called DSP1 (dorsal switch protein), that converts Dorsal and NF-kappa B from transcriptional activators to repressors. This effect requires a sequence termed a negative regulatory element (NRE), found adjacent to Dorsal-binding sites in the zen promoter and adjacent to the NF-kappa B-binding site in the human interferon-beta (IFN-beta) enhancer. Previous studies have shown that another type of HMG protein, HMG I(Y), can stimulate NF-kappa B activity. Thus, the HMG-like proteins DSP1 and HMG I(Y) can determine whether a specific regulator functions as an activator or a repressor of transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • HMGA1a Protein
  • HeLa Cells
  • High Mobility Group Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-beta / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • High Mobility Group Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • dl protein, Drosophila
  • HMGA1a Protein
  • Interferon-beta
  • DNA

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U13881