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Ciba Found Symp. 1990;150:128-37; discussion 137-46.

fos-jun conspiracy: implications for the cell.

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Molecular Biology and Virology Laboratory, Salk Institute, San Diego, CA 92138.


Two nuclear oncoproteins, fos and jun (AP-1), cooperate in forming a very stable heterodimeric complex that binds to the AP-1 site on DNA with high affinity. The 'leucine zipper' domain of both fos and jun is necessary for the formation of this heterodimer. Mutations of single residues within the leucine zipper domain have no effect on protein complex formation. However, results from mutagenesis of the first leucine of the heptad repeat in either fos or jun basic regions and alteration of the spacing between the basic and leucine zipper domains indicate that the basic region of fos plays a crucial role in determining the DNA binding affinity of the transcriptional complex. Mutations of the basic amino acids in fos protein prevent binding to the tumour promoter response element (TRE) in the presence of wild-type jun protein. Thus fos protein appears to be dominant in jun-fos binding to DNA, even though fos alone cannot bind to TRE. Mutants in the basic region of fos and jun can be exploited as dominant-negative mutants to ablate the normal fos cellular function.

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