Trans-regulatory element

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Trans-regulatory elements are genes which may modify (or regulate) the expression of distant genes.[1] More specifically, trans-regulatory elements are DNA sequences that encode transcription factors.

Trans-regulatory elements work through an intermolecular interaction between two different molecules and so are said to be "acting in trans". For example (1) a transcribed and translated transcription factor protein derived from the trans-regulatory element; and a (2) DNA regulatory element that is adjacent to the regulated gene. This is in contrast to cis-regulatory elements that work through an intramolecular interaction between different parts of the same molecule: (1) a gene; and (2) an adjacent regulatory element for that gene in the same DNA molecule.

Examples of trans-acting factors include the genes for:[2]

  • Subunits of RNA polymerase
  • Proteins that bind to RNA polymerase to stabilize the initiation complex
  • Proteins that bind to all promoters of specific sequences, but not to RNA polymerase (TFIID factors)
  • Proteins that bind to a few promoters and are required for transcription initiation (positive regulators of gene expression)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gilad Y, Rifkin SA, Pritchard JK (August 2008). "Revealing the architecture of gene regulation: the promise of eQTL studies". Trends Genet. 24 (8): 408–15. doi:10.1016/j.tig.2008.06.001. PMC 2583071. PMID 18597885.
  2. ^ McClean, Phillip. "Cis-Acting element and trans-acting factors". 1998.