Control of gene expression by modulated self-assembly
Gómez Vilar, José Manuel
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Nucleic Acids Research 39(16) : 6854-6863 (2011)
Numerous transcription factors self-assemble into different order oligomeric species in a way that is actively regulated by the cell. Until now, no general functional role has been identified for this widespread process. Here, we capture the effects of modulated self-assembly in gene expression with a novel quantitative framework. We show that this mechanism provides precision and flexibility, two seemingly antagonistic properties, to the sensing of diverse cellular signals by systems that share common elements present in transcription factors like p53, NF-kappa B, STATs, Oct and RXR. Applied to the nuclear hormone receptor RXR, this framework accurately reproduces a broad range of classical, previously unexplained, sets of gene expression data and corroborates the existence of a precise functional regime with flexible properties that can be controlled both at a genome-wide scale and at the individual promoter level.