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Chromatin remodeling is an important step in promoter activation during cellular lineage commitment and differentiation. We show that the ability of the C/EBPalpha transcription factor to direct adipocyte differentiation of uncommitted fibroblast precursors and to activate SWI/SNF-dependent myeloid-specific genes depends on a domain, C/EBPalpha transactivation element III (TE-III), that binds the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex. TE-III collaborates with C/EBPalpha TBP/TFIIB interaction motifs during induction of adipogenesis and adipocyte-specific gene expression. These results indicate that C/EBPalpha acts as a lineage-instructive transcription factor through SWI/SNF-dependent modification of the chromatin structure of lineage-specific genes, followed by direct promoter activation via recruitment of the basal transcription-initiation complex, and provide a mechanism by which C/EBPalpha can mediate differentiation along multiple cellular lineages.

Original publication




Journal article


Genes Dev

Publication Date





3208 - 3216


3T3 Cells, Adipocytes, Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Binding Sites, CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-alpha, Cell Differentiation, Cell Lineage, Chromatin, Conserved Sequence, DNA Helicases, DNA-Binding Proteins, Erythroblasts, Fibroblasts, Gene Expression Regulation, Macromolecular Substances, Mice, Molecular Sequence Data, Mutation, Nuclear Proteins, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Protein Binding, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Quail, RNA, Messenger, Rats, Substrate Specificity, TATA-Box Binding Protein, Transcription Factor TFIIB, Transcription Factors