The GC box is an important transcriptional regulatory element present in the promoters of many mammalian genes. In the present study we examine the effect of known GC-box-binding proteins on the promoter of the human elongation factor 1 A-1 (hEF1A-1) gene in human HeLa cells and Drosophila SL2 cells. In HeLa cells co-transfection with the GC-box-binding protein BTEB resulted in a 4–10-fold increase in hEF1A-1 promoter activity. This stimulation was dependent on a single GC box located between positions -69 and -50 of the promoter. Little or no effect was observed of other GC-box-binding proteins including Sp1, Sp3, Sp4 and BTEB2. In SL2 cells stimulation by Sp1 and Sp3 through the single GC box of the proximal promoter led to 13-fold and 21-fold increases respectively in promoter activity. Inclusion of further upstream sequences resulted in high levels of expression when Sp1 or Sp3 was co-transfected with the reporter plasmid. In this setting Sp1 stimulated transcription by 750-fold, whereas Sp3 was even more potent, yielding a 1150-fold stimulation. Mobility-shift assays performed with the promoter-proximal GC box demonstrated the binding of Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 to this sequence. To our knowledge, the present study represents the first comparison of all known GC-box-binding proteins on a natural promoter.

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