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J Biol Chem. 1996 Feb 16;271(7):3555-61.

A splice variant of the ITF-2 transcript encodes a transcription factor that inhibits MyoD activity.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Health Sciences Building, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6A 5C1, Canada.


Proteins of the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) family are transcription factors that bind DNA containing the E box motif (CANNTG) found in the promoters of many muscle-specific genes. ITF-2 is a bHLH protein with widespread expression that is thought to form active heterodimers with MyoD, a muscle-specific bHLH transcription factor. We have isolated cDNAs derived from two alternatively spliced forms of mouse ITF-2, termed MITF-2A and -2B. These proteins differ in their N termini. Neither MITF-2A nor -2B transactivated the cardiac alpha-actin promoter, which contains an E box, when transfected into nonmuscle cells. In fact, MITF-2B inhibited MyoD activation of the cardiac alpha-actin promoter. This inhibitory activity required the N-terminal 83 amino acids since MITF-2A showed no inhibitory activity, and a mutant MITF-2B with deletion of the N-terminal 83 amino acids failed to inhibit MyoD-mediated transcriptional activation. MyoD activity was also inhibited by Id, a HLH protein, and this inhibition was reversed by the addition of excess E12 or MITF-2A. However, the inhibition of MyoD activity by MITF-2B was not reversed with E12 or MITF-2A. While Id is thought to inhibit MyoD by binding and sequestering potential dimerization partners, MITF-2B appears to inhibit MyoD activity by forming an inactive heterodimer with MyoD. Thus, differentially spliced transcripts of mouse ITF-2 encode different proteins that appear to dimerize with MyoD and activate or repress transcription.

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