Nucleic acids research

Genome-wide binding studies reveal DNA binding specificity mechanisms and functional interplay amongst Forkhead transcription factors.

PMID 26578569


Transcription factors belonging to the same transcription factor families contain very similar DNA binding domains and hence have the potential to bind to related DNA sequences. However, subtle differences in binding specificities can be detected in vitro with the potential to direct specific responses in vivo. Here, we have examined the binding properties of three Forkhead (FOX) transcription factors, FOXK2, FOXO3 and FOXJ3 in vivo. Extensive overlap in chromatin binding is observed, although underlying differential DNA binding specificity can dictate the recruitment of FOXK2 and FOXJ3 to chromatin. However, functionally, FOXO3-dependent gene regulation is generally mediated not through uniquely bound regions but through regions occupied by both FOXK2 and FOXO3 where both factors play a regulatory role. Our data point to a model whereby FOX transcription factors control gene expression through dynamically binding and generating partial occupancy of the same site rather than mutually exclusive binding derived by stable binding of individual FOX proteins.