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Mol Cell Biol. 1999 Oct;19(10):7001-10.

Multifunctional role of the Pitx2 homeodomain protein C-terminal tail.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


Pitx2 is a newly described bicoid-like homeodomain transcription factor that is defective in Rieger syndrome and shows a striking leftward developmental asymmetry. We have previously shown that Pitx2 (also called Ptx2 and RIEG) transactivates a reporter gene containing a bicoid enhancer and synergistically transactivates the prolactin promoter in the presence of the POU homeodomain protein Pit-1. In this report, we focused on the C-terminal region which is mutated in some Rieger patients and contains a highly conserved 14-amino-acid element. Deletion analysis of Pitx2 revealed that the C-terminal 39-amino-acid tail represses DNA binding activity and is required for Pitx2-Pit-1 interaction and Pit-1 synergism. Pit-1 interaction with the Pitx2 C terminus masks the inhibitory effect and promotes increased DNA binding activity. Interestingly, cotransfection of an expression vector encoding the C-terminal 39 amino acids of Pitx2 specifically inhibits Pitx2 transactivation activity. In contrast, the C-terminal 39-amino-acid peptide interacts with Pitx2 to increase its DNA binding activity. These data suggest that the C-terminal tail intrinsically inhibits the Pitx2 protein and that this inhibition can be overcome by interaction with other transcription factors to allow activation during development.

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