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J Biol Chem. 2002 Feb 22;277(8):6469-77. Epub 2001 Nov 27.

Enhancer-specific modulation of E protein activity.

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Cell Biology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Homodimeric complexes of members of the E protein family of basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors are important for tissue-specific activation of genes in B lymphocytes (Bain, G., Gruenwald, S., and Murre, C. (1993) Mol. Cell Biol. 13, 3522-3529; Shen, C. P., and Kadesch, T. (1995) Mol. Cell Biol. 15, 4518-4524; Jacobs, Y., et al. (1994) Mol. Cell Biol. 14, 4087-4096; Wilson, R. B., et al. (1991) Mol. Cell Biol. 11, 6185-6191). These homodimers, however, have little activity on myogenic enhancers (Weintraub, H., Genetta, T., and Kadesch, T. (1994) Genes Dev. 8, 2203-2211). We report here the identification of a novel cis-acting transcriptional repression domain in the E protein family of bHLH transcription factors. This domain, the Rep domain, is present in each of the known vertebrate E proteins. Extensive mapping analysis demonstrates that this domain is an acidic region of 30 amino acids with a predicted loop structure. Fusion studies indicate that the Rep domain can repress both of the E protein transactivation domains (AD1 and AD2). Physiologically, the Rep domain plays a key role in maintaining E protein homodimers in an inactive state on myogenic enhancers. In addition, we demonstrate that Rep domain mediated repression of AD1 is a necessary for the function of MyoD-E protein heterodimeric complexes. These studies demonstrate that the Rep domain is important for modulating the transcriptional activity of E proteins and provide key insights into both the selectivity and mechanism of action of E protein containing bHLH protein complexes.

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