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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Apr 12;91(8):3368-72.

Distinct DNA-binding properties of the high mobility group domain of murine and human SRY sex-determining factors.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0414.


The mammalian sex-determining gene SRY (sex-determining region on Y chromosome) encodes a member of the high mobility group (HMG) family of regulatory proteins. The HMG domain of the SRY protein represents a DNA binding motif that displays rather unusually weak evolutionary conservation of amino acids between human and mouse sequences. Together with the previous finding that the human (h) SRY gene is unable to induce a male phenotype in genetically female transgenic mice, these observations raise questions concerning the DNA binding properties of SRY proteins. Here, we present data that indicate that the DNA binding and bending properties of the HMG domains of murine (m) SRY and hSRY differ from each other. In comparison, mSRY shows more-extensive major-groove contacts with DNA and a higher specificity of sequence recognition than hSRY. Moreover, the extent of protein-induced DNA bending differs from the HMG domains of hSRY and mSRY. These differences in DNA binding by hSRY and mSRY may, in part, account for the functional differences observed with these gene products.

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