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EMBO J. Mar 15, 1999; 18(6): 1609–1620.
PMCID: PMC1171248

Mutual activation of Ets-1 and AML1 DNA binding by direct interaction of their autoinhibitory domains.


The transcription factors Ets-1 and AML1 (the alphaBl subunit of PEBP2/CBF) play critical roles in hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis, and cooperate in the transactivation of the T cell receptor (TCR) beta chain enhancer. The DNA binding capacity of both factors is blocked intramolecularly but can be activated by the removal of negative regulatory domains. These include the exon VII domain for Ets-1 and the negative regulatory domain for DNA binding (NRDB) for alphaB1. Here we report that the direct interaction between the two factors leads to a reciprocal stimulation of their DNA binding activity and activation of their transactivation function. Detailed mapping revealed two independent contact points involving the exon VII and NRDB regions as well as the two DNA binding domains. Using deletion variants and dominant interfering mutants, we demonstrate that the interaction between exon VII and NRDB is necessary and sufficient for cooperative DNA binding. The exon VII and NRDB motifs are highly conserved in evolution yet deleted in natural variants, suggesting that the mechanism described is of biological relevance. The mutual activation of DNA binding of Ets and AML1 through the intermolecular interaction of autoinhibitory domains may represent a novel principle for the regulation of transcription factor function.

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Selected References

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