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Nucleic Acids Res. 1998 Dec 1; 26(23): 5277–5287.
PMCID: PMC148020

DNA binding and dimerisation determinants of Antirrhinum majus MADS-box transcription factors.


Members of the MADS-box family of transcription factors are found in eukaryotes ranging from yeast to humans. In plants, MADS-box proteins regulate several developmental processes including flower, fruit and root development. We have investigated the DNA-binding mechanisms used by four such proteins in Antirrhinum majus, SQUA, PLE, DEF and GLO. SQUA differs from the characterised mammalian and yeast MADS-box proteins as it can efficiently bind two different classes of DNA-binding site. SQUA induces bending of these binding sites and the sequence of the site plays a role in determining the magnitude of these bends. Similarly, PLE and DEF/GLO induce DNA bending although the direction of the resulting bends differ. Finally, we demonstrate that the MADS-box and I-domains are sufficient for homodimer formation by SQUA. However, the K-box in SQUA can also act as an oligomerisation motif and in the full-length protein, the K-box plays a different role in mediating dimerisation in the context of SQUA homodimers or heterodimers with PLE. Together these results contribute significantly to our understanding of the function of SQUA and other plant MADS-box proteins at the molecular level.

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