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Nucl Recept. 2003 Sep 10;1(1):7.

A neuronal-specific differentiation protein that directly modulates retinoid receptor transcriptional activation.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, University of Kentucky, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY 40536, USA.



The specificity of a nuclear receptor's ability to modulate gene expression resides in its ability to bind a specific lipophilic ligand, associate with specific dimerization partners and bind specific DNA sequences in the promoter regions of genes. This sequence of events appears to be the basis for targeting an additional regulatory complex composed of a variety of protein and RNA components that deliver signals for facilitation or inhibition of the RNA polymerase complex. Characterization of the tissue and cell-specific components of these coregulatory complexes appear to be integral to our understanding of nuclear receptor regulation of transcription.


A novel yeast screen sensitive to retinoid-X receptor (RXR) transcriptional activation resulted in the isolation of the rat homologue of the mouse NPDC-1 gene. NPDC-1 has been shown to be involved in the control of neural cell proliferation and differentiation, possibly through interactions with the cell cycle promoting transcription factor E2F-1. Although the amino acid sequence of NPDC-1 is highly conserved between mouse, rat and human homologues, their tissue specific expression was seen to vary. A potential for direct protein:protein interaction between NPDC-1, RXR and retinoic acid receptor beta (RARbeta) was observed in vitro and NPDC-1 facilitated RXR homodimer and RAR-RXR heterodimer DNA binding in vitro. Expression of NPDC-1 was also observed to repress transcription mediated by retinoid receptors as well as by several other nuclear receptor family members, although not in a universal manner.


These results suggest that NPDC-1, through direct interaction with retinoid receptors, functions to enhance the transcription complex formation and DNA binding function of retinoid receptors, but ultimately repress retinoid receptor-mediated gene expression. As with NPDC-1, retinoids and their receptors have been implicated in brain development and these data provide a point of convergence for NPDC-1 and retinoid mediation of neuronal differentiation.

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