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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2000 Oct;11(5):369-75.

Mechanisms of transcriptional regulation by Runt domain proteins.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and The Institute for Cell and Developmental Biology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 11794-5215, USA.


Runt domain proteins have vital roles in regulating transcription in developmental pathways extending from sex determination and segmentation in fruit fly embryos to the development of blood and bone in mammals. Many of the insights into the mechanisms by which these proteins act to regulate transcription originate either from studies on the Drosophila runt gene, the founding member of this family, or from work on the mammalian PEBP2/CBF transcription factor. Genetic experiments in the Drosophila system reveal that runt functions both to activate and to repress transcription of different downstream target genes and indicate that different mechanisms are used in the regulation of different specific downstream target genes. These studies have also identified other nuclear factors that work with Runt in some of these pathways. Studies in mammalian systems have provided additional evidence for the complexity of transcriptional regulation by Runt domain proteins and have identified other transcription factors that cooperate with Runt domain proteins to regulate the activity of different specific cis-regulatory enhancers. The emerging view from studies in both systems is that these proteins act as context-dependent regulators of transcription, activating or repressing gene expression dependent upon the constititution of a particular promoter/enhancer in a particular cell type. These results have yielded new insights into the molecular mechanisms that control animal development and provide a framework for investigating fundamental issues in eukaryotic transcriptional regulation.

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