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J Biol Chem. 2001 Sep 21;276(38):35751-60. Epub 2001 Jul 16.

Interaction of Maf transcription factors with Pax-6 results in synergistic activation of the glucagon promoter.

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  • 1CNRS-UMR 146, Institut Curie-Section de Recherche, Bât 110, Centre Universitaire, 91405 Orsay, France.


In the endocrine pancreas, alpha-cell-specific expression of the glucagon gene is mediated by DNA-binding proteins that interact with the G1 proximal promoter element. Among these proteins, the paired domain transcription factor Pax-6 has been shown to bind to G1 and to transactivate glucagon gene expression. Close to the Pax-6-binding site, we observed the presence of a binding site for a basic leucine zipper transcription factor of the Maf family. In the present study, we demonstrate the presence of Maf family members in the endocrine pancreas that bind to G1 and transactivate glucagon promoter expression. In transient transfection experiments, we found that the transactivating effect on the glucagon promoter was greatly enhanced by the simultaneous expression of Maf transcription factors and Pax-6. This enhancement on glucagon transactivation could be correlated with the ability of these proteins to interact together but does not require binding of Maf proteins to the G1 element. Furthermore, we found that Maf enhanced the Pax-6 DNA binding capacity. Our data indicate that Maf transcription factors may contribute to glucagon gene expression in the pancreas.

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