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LA Coons, AB Burkholder, SC Hewitt, DP McDonnell and KS Korach
Abstract
Understanding why a transcription factor (TF) binds to a specific DNA element in the genome and whether that binding event affects transcriptional output remains a great challenge. In this study, we demonstrate that TF binding in the genome follows inversion symmetry (IS). In addition, the specific DNA elements where TFs bind in the genome are determined by internal IS within the DNA element. These DNA-binding rules quantitatively define how TFs select the appropriate regulatory targets from a large number of similar DNA elements in the genome to elicit specific transcriptional and cellular responses. Importantly, we also demonstrate that these DNA-binding rules extend to DNA elements that do not support transcriptional activity. That is, the DNA-binding rules are obeyed, but the retention time of the TF at these non-functional DNA elements is not long enough to initiate and/or maintain transcription. We further demonstrate that IS is universal within the genome. Thus, IS is the DNA code that TFs use to interact with the genome and dictates (in conjunction with known DNA sequence constraints) which of those interactions are functionally active.
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