The embryonic enhancer-binding protein SSAP contains a novel DNA-binding domain which has homology to several RNA-binding proteins

Daniel J. Deangelo, Jeffery Defalco, Lisa Rybacki, Geoffrey Childs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Stage-specific activator protein (SSAP) is a 43-kDa polypeptide that binds to an enhancer element of the sea urchin late histone H1 gene. This enhancer element mediates the transcriptional activation of the late histone H1 gene in a temporally specific manner at the mid-blastula stage of embryogenesis. We have cloned cDNAs encoding SSAP by using polyclonal antibodies raised against purified SSAP to screen expression libraries. SSAP is unrelated to previously characterized transcription factors; however, it exhibits striking homology to a large family of proteins involved in RNA processing. The protein is a sequence-specific DNA-binding protein that recognizes both single- and double-stranded DNA. The DNA-binding domain of the protein was localized to the conserved RNA recognition motif (RRM). In addition to tandem copies of this conserved domain, SSAP contains a central domain that is rich in glutamine and glycine and a C-terminal domain that is enriched in serine, threonine, and basic amino acids. Overexpression of SSAP in sea urchin embryos by microinjection of either synthetic mRNA or an SSAP expression vector results in four- to eightfold transactivation of target reporter genes that contain the enhancer sequence. Transactivation occurs beginning only at the mid-blastula stage of development, suggesting that SSAP must be modified in a stage-specific manner in order to activate transcription. In addition, there are a number of other RRM-containing proteins that contain glutamine- rich regions which are postulated to function in the regulation of RNA processing. Instead, we suggest that SSAP is a member of a family of glutamine-rich RRM proteins which constitute a novel class of transcription factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1254-1264
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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