The Oct-1 transcription factor regulates a variety of tissue-specific and general housekeeping genes by recruiting specialized coactivators of transcription. It acts synergistically with the B-cell-specific coactivator Bob1 (OCA-B, OBF-1) to stimulate transcription of immunoglobulin genes. To analyze Oct-1's interactions with Bob1 and other regulatory proteins, we have overexpressed and purified different functional domains of the recombinant proteins. A version of Oct-1 that encompasses the amino-terminal activation region and the POU DNA-binding domain was extensively characterized (OctDeltaC1; comprising residues 1-445). Using an in vitro transcription assay, we demonstrate that this fragment is sufficient and necessary to stimulate transcription from an immunoglobulin promoter with Bob1. It also coactivates from the herpes simplex virus ICPO promoter element in the presence of VP16. Using a range of spectroscopic and biophysical techniques, we demonstrate that the activation domains of Oct-1 and Bob1 have little globular structure and that they do not physically interact. Thus, their functional synergy is likely to arise by the co-recruitment of common factors as part of a larger regulatory assembly. We propose a hypothesis to explain why the activation domains of these and other transcription factors of metazoans have little if any intrinsic structure.
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