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J Biol Chem. 2006 Jul 14;281(28):18918-26. Epub 2006 May 2.

Transcriptional activation of the SALL1 by the human SIX1 homeodomain during kidney development.

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Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


SALL1 is a member of the SAL gene family that encodes a group of putative developmental transcription factors. SALL1 plays a critical role during kidney development as mutations of the human SALL1 gene cause Townes-Brocks syndrome, which is associated with kidney malformation. Deletion of the mouse Sall1 gene results in renal agenesis or severe dysgenesis. To date, little is known about the molecular mechanisms controlling the regulation of SALL1 expression. This report describes the cloning and characterization of the human SALL1 gene promoter. Consensus binding sites were identified for several transcription factors, with multiple sites for WT1 and SIX1. In transient transfection assays, SALL1 promoter activity was higher in HEK-293 human kidney cells and COS-7 monkey kidney cells than in NIH-3T3 fibroblasts, consistent with its role in kidney development. Transcription from the SALL1 promoter was strikingly activated by the SIX1 protein. Utilizing a luciferase reporter gene assay, endogenous or exogenously added SIX1 activated the SALL1 promoter. Overexpression of SIX1 induced a significant increase in the endogenous SIX1 protein. In addition, co-expression of SIX1 and Eya1 resulted in a significant increase in the SALL1 promoter activity when compared with either SIX1 or Eya1 alone. Finally, we demonstrate that SIX1 was able to bind to the SALL1 promoter by retardation assays and that deletion of the putative element of SIX1 significantly diminishes the SALL1 promoter activity response to SIX1 stimulation. Our findings, when taken together, indicate that SALL1 is a likely target gene for SIX1 during kidney development.

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