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Genes Cells. 2007 Feb;12(2):171-82.

Mouse homolog of SALL1, a causative gene for Townes-Brocks syndrome, binds to A/T-rich sequences in pericentric heterochromatin via its C-terminal zinc finger domains.

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Division of Integrative Cell Biology, Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto 860-0811, Japan.


The Spalt (sal) gene family is conserved from Drosophila to humans. Mutations of human SALL1 cause Townes-Brocks syndrome, with features of ear, limb, anal, renal and heart anomalies. Sall1, a murine homolog of SALL1, is essential for kidney formation, and both Sall1 and SALL1 localize to heterochromatin in the nucleus. Here, we present a molecular mechanism for the heterochromatin localization of Sall1. Mutation analyses revealed that the 7th-10th C-terminal double zinc finger motifs were required for the localization. A recombinant protein of the most C-terminal double zinc finger (9th-10th) bound to specific A/T-rich sequences. Furthermore, Sall1 associated with A/T-rich sequences of the major satellite DNA in heterochromatin. Thus Sall1 may bind to A/T-rich sequences of the major satellite DNA via its C-terminal double zinc fingers, thereby mediating its localization to heterochromatin.

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