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Gene. 2001 Jan 10;262(1-2):239-47.

Cloning and functional analysis of the Sry-related HMG box gene, Sox18.

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  • 1University of Queensland, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology, Ritchie Research Laboratories, B402A, St Lucia, 4072, Queensland, Australia.


The Sox gene family (Sry like HMG box gene) is characterised by a conserved DNA sequence encoding a domain of approximately 80 amino acids which is responsible for sequence specific DNA binding. We initially published the identification and partial cDNA sequence of murine Sox18, a new member of this gene family, isolated from a cardiac cDNA library. This sequence allowed us to classify Sox18 into the F sub-group of Sox proteins, along with Sox7 and Sox17. Recently, we demonstrated that mutations in the Sox18 activation domain underlie cardiovascular and hair follicle defects in the mouse mutation, ragged (Ra) (Pennisi et al., 2000. Mutations in Sox18 underlie cardiovascular and hair follicle defecs in ragged mice. Nat. Genet. 24, 434-437). Ra homozygotes lack vibrissae and coat hairs, have generalised oedema and an accumulation of chyle in the peritoneum. Here we have investigated the genomic sequences encoding Sox18. Screening of a mouse genomic phage library identified four overlapping clones, we sequenced a 3.25 kb XbaI fragment that defined the entire coding region and approximately 1.5 kb of 5' flanking sequences. This identified (i) an additional 91 amino acids upstream of the previously designated methionine start codon in the original cDNA, and (ii) an intron encoded within the HMG box/DNA binding domain in exactly the same position as that found in the Sox5, -13 and -17 genes. The Sox18 gene encodes a protein of 468 aa. We present evidence that suggests HAF-2, the human HMG-box activating factor -2 protein, is the orthologue of murine Sox18. HAF-2 has been implicated in the regulation of the Human IgH enhancer in a B cell context. Random mutagenesis coupled with GAL4 hybrid analysis in the activation domain between amino acids 252 and 346, of Sox18, implicated the phosphorylation motif, SARS, and the region between amino acid residues 313 and 346 as critical components of Sox18 mediated transactivation. Finally, we examined the expression of Sox18 in multiple adult mouse tissues using RT-PCR. Low-moderate expression was observed in spleen, stomach, kidney, intestine, skeletal muscle and heart. Very abundant expression was detected in lung tissue.

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