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Leukemia. 2006 Dec;20(12):2137-46. Epub 2006 Nov 2.

Proteomic discovery of Max as a novel interacting partner of C/EBPalpha: a Myc/Max/Mad link.

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  • 1Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit, State Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, Clinic Internal Medicine IV, Martin-Luther-University, Halle, Germany.


The transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer binding protein a (C/EBPalpha) is important in the regulation of granulopoiesis and is disrupted in human acute myeloid leukemia. In the present study, we sought to identify novel C/EBPalpha interacting proteins in vivo through immunoprecipitation using mass spectrometry-based proteomic techniques. We identified Max, a heterodimeric partner of Myc, as one of the interacting proteins of C/EBPalpha in our screen. We confirmed the in vivo interaction of C/EBPalpha with Max and showed that this interaction involves the basic region of C/EBPalpha. Endogenous C/EBPalpha and Max, but not Myc and Max, colocalize in intranuclear structures during granulocytic differentiation of myeloid U937 cells. Max enhanced the transactivation capacity of C/EBPalpha on a minimal promoter. A chromatin immunoprecipitation assay revealed occupancy of the human C/EBPalpha promoter in vivo by Max and Myc under cellular settings and by C/EBPalpha and Max under retinoic acid induced granulocytic differentiation. Interestingly, enforced expression of Max and C/EBPalpha results in granulocytic differentiation of the human hematopoietic CD34(+) cells, as evidenced by CD11b, CD15 and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor receptor expression. Silencing of Max by short hairpin RNA in CD34(+) and U937 cells strongly reduced the differentiation-inducing potential of C/EBPalpha, indicating the importance of C/EBPalpha-Max in myeloid progenitor differentiation. Taken together, our data reveal Max as a novel co-activator of C/EBPalpha functions, thereby suggesting a possible link between C/EBPalpha and Myc-Max-Mad network.

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