We previously demonstrated that formation of complexes between the DNA-binding domains of hepatocyte nuclear factor 6 (HNF6) and forkhead box a2 (Foxa2) proteins stimulated Foxa2 transcriptional activity. Here, we used HepG2 cell cotransfection assays to demonstrate that HNF6 transcriptional activity was stimulated by CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α (C/EBPα), but not by the related C/EBPβ or C/EBPδ proteins. Formation of the C/EBPα-HNF6 protein complex required the HNF6 cut domain and the C/EBPα activation domain (AD) 1/AD2 sequences. This C/EBPα-HNF6 transcriptional synergy required both the TV-terminal HNF6 polyhistidine and serine/threonine/proline box sequences, as well as the C/EBPα AD1/AD2 sequences, the latter of which are known to recruit the CREB binding protein (CBP) transcriptional coactivator. Consistent with these findings, adenovirus E1A-mediated inhibition of p300/CBP histone acetyltransferase activity abrogated C/EBPα-HNF6 transcriptional synergy in cotransfection assays. Co-immunoprecipitation assays with liver protein extracts demonstrate an association between the HNF6 and C/EBPα transcription factors and the CBP coactivator protein in vivo. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation assays with hepatoma cells demonstrated that increased levels of both C/EBPα and HNF6 proteins were required to stimulate association of these transcription factors and the CBP coactivator protein with the endogenous mouse Foxa2 promoter region. In conclusion, formation of the C/EBPα-HNF6 protein complex stimulates recruitment of the CBP coactivator protein for expression of Foxa2, a transcription factor critical for regulating expression of hepatic gluconeogenic genes during fasting.
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