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Differentiation. 1998 Jul;63(3):151-7.

Protein complex formation between Msx1 and Lhx2 homeoproteins is incompatible with DNA binding activity.

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  • 1Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Msx genes encode a family of homeoproteins that function as transcription repressors through protein-protein interactions. Here we show that Lhx2, a LIM-type homeoprotein, is a protein partner for Msx1 in vitro and in cellular extracts. The interaction between Msx1 and Lhx2 is mediated through the homeodomain-containing regions of both proteins. Interestingly, the LIM domains, which serve as protein interaction domains for other partners of Lhx2, are not required for the Msx1-Lhx2 association. We show that Msx1 and Lhx2 form a protein complex in the absence of DNA, and that DNA binding by either protein alone can occur at the expense of protein complex formation. The significance of this protein-protein interaction is underscored by the expression patterns of Msx1 and Lhx2, which are partially overlapping during murine embryogenesis. The description of Lhx2 as a protein partner for Msx1 suggests that the functional specificity of homeoproteins in vivo is determined by a balance between their association with DNA and their protein partners.

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