Septamer element-binding proteins in neuronal and glial differentiation

Albert Dobi, Miklos Palkovits, Christina G. Palkovits, Mary A. Ring, Denes V. Agoston*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Differentiation of progenitors into neurons and glia is regulated by interactions between regulatory DNA elements of neuron-and glia-specific genes and transcription factors that are differentially expressed by progenitors at progressive stages of neural development. We have identified a novel DNA regulatory element (TTTGCAT = septamer) present on the enkephalin (ENK), neuronal cell adhesion molecule, neurofilament of 68 kDa (NF68), growth-associated protein of 43 kDa, glial high-affinity glutamine transporter, tyrosine hydroxylase, etc., genes. When septamer function was blocked by introducing septamer competitor DNA into primary differentiating neural cultures, mRNA levels of ENK, NF68, and glial fibrillary acidic protein decreased by 50-80%, whereas no effect was seen using a control DNA. Septamer elements serve as binding sites for lineage-specific multimeric complexes assembled from three distinct nuclear proteins. Progenitors express a 16 kDa protein (p-sept) which binds to DNA as a homodimer (detected as the 32 kDa P-band). Cells that entered the neuronal lineage express an additional 29 kDa protein (n-sept) that binds to the homodimerized p-sept, and together they form a 62 kDa multimer (detected as N-band). Cells that entered the glial lineage express a distinct 23 kDa protein (g-sept), which along with the homodimerized p-sept form a 56 kDa multimer (observed as G-band). The binding of the distinct protein complexes (P, G, and N) to the septamer site causes a lineage-specific DNA bending (P = 53°; G = 72°; and N = 90°), which may contribute to the regulatory effect of the septamer interaction. In summary, septamer and its binding proteins represent novel protein-DNA interactions that may contribute to the regulation of neuroglial differentiation in the developing mammalian CNS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1073-1084
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA bending
  • DNA molecular decoy
  • Development
  • Glia
  • Neuron
  • Progenitors


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