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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Dec 5;97(25):13655-60.

Members of the HRT family of basic helix-loop-helix proteins act as transcriptional repressors downstream of Notch signaling.

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Departments of Molecular Biology and Pediatrics, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 6000 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, Texas 75390-9148, USA.


The Hairy-related transcription-factor (HRT) genes encode three related basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors that show sequence similarity to the Hairy and Enhancer of split family of transcriptional repressors. HRT proteins are expressed in specific regions of the developing heart, vasculature, pharyngeal arches and somites, and the periodicity of their expression in somitic precursors mirrors that of Notch signaling-related molecules. In the present study, we show that the intracellular domain of the Notch1 receptor (Notch1 IC), which is constitutively active, up-regulates HRT2 expression in 10T(1/2) fibroblasts. Luciferase reporter assays using the regulatory regions of the mouse HRT genes revealed that transcription of all three genes is stimulated by Notch1 IC. The promoters of the HRT genes share homology in a binding site for Suppressor of Hairless [Su(H)], a transcriptional mediator of Notch signaling. A dominant-negative Su(H) mutant abolished Notch-activated HRT2 expression, and mutation of the conserved Su(H) consensus site in the HRT2 promoter attenuated transcriptional activation by Notch. Ectopic expression of HRT proteins also blocked activation of HRT2 expression by Notch1 IC through a mechanism requiring the basic region, but not the conserved carboxyl-terminal YQPW-TEVGAF motif of HRT2. These findings identify HRT genes as downstream targets for Notch signaling and reveal a negative autoregulatory loop whereby HRT proteins repress their own expression through interference with Notch signaling.

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