Immunoglobulin genes contain a conserved eight base sequence element 5′ to the site of transcription initiation. This octamer can serve as a site for the binding of nuclear proteins which are presumably involved in the cell type specific expression of this family of genes. In studying the binding of nuclear proteins to this conserved sequence element, we have detected a protein interaction that involves, in addition to the octamer, nucleotides which are immediately upstream. We have characterized this additional contact as a sequence specific interaction with a heptameric sequence element (CTCATGA) that is conserved among Ig heavy chain promoters. Protein binding to the heptamer is unique in that it is dependent upon the proximity and orientation of, as well as protein interaction with, the conserved octamer.
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