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Transcriptional enhancers: Intelligent enhanceosomes or flexible billboards?


  • David N. Arnosti,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1319
    2. Program in Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1319
    • 413 Biochemistry, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1319.
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  • Meghana M. Kulkarni

    1. Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School/HHMI, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, Massachusetts 02115-6092
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  • This review is dedicated to Prof. Walter Schaffner on the occasion of his 60th birthday.


In higher eukaryotes, transcriptional enhancers play critical roles in the integration of cellular signaling information, but apart from a few well-studied model enhancers, we lack a general picture of transcriptional information processing by most enhancers. Here we discuss recent studies that have provided fresh insights on information processing that occurs on enhancers, and propose that in addition to the highly cooperative and coordinate action of “enhanceosomes”, a less integrative, but more flexible form of information processing is mediated by information display or “billboard” enhancers. Application of these models has important ramifications not only for the biochemical analysis of transcription, but also for the wider fields of bioinformatics and evolutionary biology. J. Cell. Biochem. 94: 890–898, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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