Initiator recognition in a primitive eukaryote: IBP39, an initiator-binding protein from Trichomonas vaginalis

D. R. Liston, A. O.T. Lau, D. Ortiz, S. T. Smale, P. J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


While considerable progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms of transcription in higher eukaryotes, transcription in single-celled, primitive eukaryotes remains poorly understood. Promoters of protein-encoding genes in the parasitic protist Trichomonas vaginalis, which represents one of the deepest-branching eukaryotic lineages, have a bipartite structure with gene-specific regulatory elements and a conserved core promoter encompassing the transcription start site. Core promoters in T. vaginalis appear to consist solely of a highly conserved initiator (Inr) element that is both a structural and a functional homologue of its metazoan counterpart. Using DNA affinity chromatography, we have isolated an Inr-binding protein from T. vaginalis. Cloning of the gene encoding the Inr binding protein identified a novel 39-kDa protein (IBP39). We show that IBP39 binds to both double and single Inr motifs found in T. vaginalis genes and that binding requires the conserved nucleotides necessary for Inr function in vivo. Analyses of the cloned IBP39 gene revealed no homology at the protein sequence level with identified proteins in other organisms or the presence of known DNA-binding domains. The relationship between IBP39 and Inr-binding proteins in metazoa presents interesting evolutionary questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7872-7882
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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