An analysis was carried out on the promoter region of the Drosophila DNA polymerase alpha 73-kDa subunit gene and the factor(s) activating the promoter. Transcription initiation sites were newly identified in the region downstream of the previously determined sites. Full promoter activity resided within the region from -285 to +129 base pairs with respect to the newly determined major site. Within this region, we found three sequences identical or similar to the DNA replication-related element (DRE), 5'-TATCGATA, which is known as a common promoter-activating element for the Drosophila DNA polymerase alpha 180-kDa subunit gene and the proliferating cell nuclear antigen gene. These sites were located at positions -77 to -70 (DREalpha-I), -44 to -37 (DREalpha-II), and +3 to +10 (DREalpha-III). Footprinting analysis using the recombinant DRE-binding factor (DREF) or Kc cell nuclear extract demonstrated that DREF can bind to all three DRE-related sites. Introduction of mutation in even one of the three DRE-related sequences caused extensive reductions of the promoter activity and also the DREF-binding activity of the promoter-containing fragment. The results indicate that the three DREF-binding sites cooperate to enhance promoter activity of the DNA polymerase alpha 73-kDa subunit gene.