Transcription factor IIIA is a very extensively studied eukaryotic gene specific factor. It is a special member of the zinc finger family of nucleic acid binding proteins with multiple functions. Its N-terminal polypeptide (280 amino acid residue containing peptide; finger containing region) carries out sequence specific DNA and RNA binding and the C-terminal peptide (65 amino acid residue containing peptide; non-finger region) is involved in the transactivation process possibly by interacting with other general factors. It is a unique factor in the sense that it binds to two structurally different nucleic acids, DNA and RNA. It accomplishes this function through its zinc fingers, which are arranged into a cluster of nine motifs. Over the past three years there has been considerable interest in determining the structural features of zinc fingers, identifying the fingers that preferentially recognize DNA and RNA, defining the role of metal binding ligands and the linker region in promotor recognition and the role of C-terminal amino acid sequence in the gene activation. This article briefly reviews our current knowledge on this special protein in these areas.

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