Cytosine methylation does not affect binding of transcription factor Sp1

M. A. Harrington, P. A. Jones, M. Imagawa, M. Karin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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DNA methylation may be a component of a multilevel control mechanism that regulates eukaryotic gene expression. We used synthetic oligonucleotides to investigate the effect of cytosine methylation on the binding of the transcription factor Sp1 to its target sequence (a G + C-rich sequence known as a 'CC box'). Concatemers of double-stranded 14-mers containing a GC box successfully competed with the human metallothionein IIA promoter for binding to Sp1 in DNase 1 protection experiments. The presence of 5-methylcytosine in the CpG sequence of the GC box did not influence Sp1 binding. The result was confirmed using double-stranded 20-mers containing 16 base pairs of complementary sequence. Electrophoretic gel retardation analysis of annealed 28-mers containing a GC box incubated with an Sp1-containing HeLa cell nuclear extract demonstrated the formation of DNA-protein complexes; formation of these complexes was not inhibited when an oligomer without a GC box was used as a competitor. Once again, the presence of a 5-methylcytosine residue in the GC box did not influence the binding of the protein to DNA. The results therefore preclude a direct effect of cytosine methylation on Sp1-DNA interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2066-2070
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1988


  • 'GC box'
  • DNA methylation
  • metallothionein gene expression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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