All eukaryotic cells of the body carry the same DNA. By using specific sets of genes, cells are able to develop into a wide variety of cell types with specific functions (e.g. muscle, neuronal or immune cells) using the same genetic information. Transcription factors regulate which genes are turned ‘on’, and which genes are ‘off ’, allowing the controlled expression of specific genes at specific times and in a specific cell type. A transcription factor (TF) is a protein that binds to a specific DNA-sequence to control the transcription of DNA to mRNA. TFs typically function in a complex with other TFs and accessory proteins that may not have DNA-binding capacity. Some TFs mainly act as activators (e.g. by recruiting RNA polymerase), while others block gene transcription. One TF can carry out both functions, depending on the context: it may be a repressor at one locus and have activating functions at another. The function of a TF can also depend on the cell type in which it acts and on the developmental stage of a cell; e.g. one TF can have a different function in a stem cell than in a fully differentiated cell.

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J.P. di Santo (James) , R.W. Hendriks (Rudi)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
J.E. Jurriaanse Stichting and BD Biosciences provided financial support for the printing of this thesis.
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Klein Wolterink, R.G.J. (2013, May 15). Stage-dependent Functions of GATA-3 in Lymphocyte Lineage Determination and Type 2 Immunity. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from