Identifying DNA sequences recognized by a transcription factor using a bacterial one-hybrid system

UMMS Affiliation

Program in Gene Function and Expression; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

Publication Date


Document Type



Bacteria; Binding Sites; Gene Library; Genes, Reporter; *Regulatory Elements, Transcriptional; Sequence Analysis, DNA; Transcription Factors; Transformation, Bacterial; *Two-Hybrid System Techniques


Genetics and Genomics


Bacterial-based interaction trap systems provide a powerful method to identify interacting macromolecules. When carried out in the context of a genetic selection, interacting pairs can be rapidly isolated from large combinatorial libraries. This technology has been adapted to allow the identification of DNA-binding sequences for a transcription factor (TF) from a large randomized library. This procedure uses a library of randomized binding sites upstream of a cocistronic HIS3-URA3 reporter cassette. The URA3 reporter allows self-activating sequences to be removed from the library through counter-selection. The HIS3 reporter allows sequences that are recognized by a TF to be isolated from the library, where transcriptional activation is mediated by fusion of the TF to the alpha-subunit of RNA polymerase. This technology can be used to characterize monomeric, homodimeric and heterodimeric DNA-binding domains and, once a suitable library is constructed, binding sites can be identified in approximately 10 d. The bacterial one-hybrid system allows larger libraries to be searched than the corresponding yeast one-hybrid system and, unlike SELEX, it does not require purification of the TF(s). The complexity of the binding site libraries that can be searched using the bacterial system is, however, more limited than SELEX, and some eukaryotic factors may not express or fold efficiently in the bacterial system.

DOI of Published Version



Nat Protoc. 2006;1(1):30-45. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Nature protocols

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID