Studies of transcription regulation are often focused on binding of transcription factors (TFs) to a small number of promoters of interest. It is often assumed that TFs are in great excess to their binding sites (TFBSs) and competition for TFs between DNA sites is seldom considered. With increasing evidence that TFBSs are exceedingly abundant for many TFs and significant variations in TF and TFBS numbers occur during growth, the interplay between a TF and all TFBSs should not be ignored. Here, we use additional decoy DNA sites to quantitatively analyze how the relative abundance of a TF to its TFBSs impacts the steady-state level and onset time of gene expression for the auto-activated Escherichia coli PhoB response regulator. We show that increasing numbers of decoy sites progressively delayed transcription activation and lowered promoter activities. Perturbation of transcription regulation by additional TFBSs did not require extreme numbers of decoys, suggesting that PhoB is approximately at capacity for its DNA sites. Addition of decoys also converted a graded response to a bi-modal response. We developed a binding competition model that captures the major features of experimental observations, providing a quantitative framework to assess how variations in TFs and TFBSs influence transcriptional responses.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||Nucleic acids research|
|State||Published - Nov 18 2021|
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