Regulatory sequence

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A regulatory sequence is a segment of a nucleic acid molecule which is capable of increasing or decreasing the expression of specific genes within an organism. Regulation of gene expression is an essential feature of all living organisms and viruses.


The structure of a eukaryotic protein-coding gene. Regulatory sequence controls when and where expression occurs for the protein coding region (red). Promoter and enhancer regions (yellow) regulate the transcription of the gene into a pre-mRNA which is modified to add a 5' cap and poly-A tail (grey) and remove introns. The mRNA 5' and 3' untranslated regions (blue) regulate translation into the final protein product.
The structure of a prokaryotic operon of protein-coding genes. Regulatory sequence controls when expression occurs for the multiple protein coding regions (red). Promoter, operator and enhancer regions (yellow) regulate the transcription of the gene into an mRNA. The mRNA untranslated regions (blue) regulate translation into the final protein products.

In DNA, regulation of gene expression normally happens at the level of RNA biosynthesis (transcription), and is accomplished through the sequence-specific binding of proteins (transcription factors) that activate or inhibit transcription. Transcription factors may act as activators, repressors, or both. Repressors often act by preventing RNA polymerase from forming a productive complex with the transcriptional initiation region (promoter), while activators facilitate formation of a productive complex. Furthermore, DNA motifs have been shown to be predictive of epigenomic modifications, suggesting that transcription factors play a role in regulating the epigenome.[1]

In RNA, regulation may occur at the level of protein biosynthesis (translation), RNA cleavage, RNA splicing, or transcriptional termination. Regulatory sequences are frequently associated with messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules, where they are used to control mRNA biogenesis or translation. A variety of biological molecules may bind to the RNA to accomplish this regulation, including proteins (e.g. translational repressors and splicing factors), other RNA molecules (e.g. miRNA) and small molecules, in the case of riboswitches.

Research to find all regulatory regions in the genomes of all sorts of organisms is under way.[2] Conserved non-coding sequences often contain regulatory regions, and so they are often the subject of these analyses.


Insulin gene[edit]

Regulatory sequences for the insulin gene are:[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whitaker JW, Zhao Chen, Wei Wang. (2014) Predicting the Human Epigenome from DNA Motifs. Nature Methods. doi:10.1038/nmeth.3065
  2. ^ Stepanova et al., Bioinformatics, 21(9): 1789-96, year 2005. A comparative analysis of relative occurrence of transcription factor binding sites in vertebrate genomes and gene promoter areas
  3. ^ Melloul et al., Diabetologica, 45, 309-326, year 2002. Regulation of insulin gene transcription
  4. ^ Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications ...

External links[edit]