Transcriptional Control in Male Germ Cells: General Factor TFIIA Participates in CREM-Dependent Gene Activation

Dario De Cesare, Gian Maria Fimia, Stefano Brancorsini, Martti Parvinen, Paolo Sassone-Corsi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Regulation of gene expression in haploid male germ cells follows a number of specific rules that differ from somatic cells. In this physiological context, transcriptional control mediated by the activator CREM (cAMP-responsive element modulator) represents an established paradigm. In somatic cells activation by CREM requires its phosphorylation at a unique regulatory site (Ser117) and subsequent interaction with the ubiquitous coactivator CBP (cAMP response element binding protein-binding protein). In testis, CREM transcriptional activity is controlled through interaction with a tissue-specific partner, ACT (activator of CREM in testis), which confers a powerful, phosphorylation-independent activation capacity. In addition to specialized transcription factors and coactivators, a variety of general factors of the basal transcriptional machinery, and their distinct tissue-specific isoforms, are highly expressed in testis, supporting the general notion that testis-specific gene expression requires specialized mechanisms. Here, we describe that CREM interacts with transcription factor IIA (TFIIA), a general transcription factor that stimulates RNA polymerase II-directed transcription. This association was identified by a two-hybrid screen, using a testis-derived cDNA library, and confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation. The interaction is restricted to the activator isoforms of CREM and does not require Ser117. Importantly, CREM does not interact with TFIIAτ-ALF, a testis-specific TFIIA homolog. CREM and TFIIA are expressed in a spatially and temporally coordinated fashion during the differentiation program of germ cells. The two proteins also colocalize intracellularly in spermatocyte and spermatid cells. These findings contribute to the understanding of the highly specialized rules of transcriptional regulation in haploid germ cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2554-2565
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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