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Mol Cell Biol. 1995 Jan;15(1):102-11.

Four structurally distinct, non-DNA-binding subunits of human nuclear respiratory factor 2 share a conserved transcriptional activation domain.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois 60611.


Nuclear respiratory factor 2 (NRF-2) was previously purified to near homogeneity from HeLa cells on the basis of its ability to bind tandem recognition sites in the rat cytochrome oxidase subunit IV (RCO4) promoter. It consisted of five subunits, alpha, beta 1, beta 2, gamma 1, and gamma 2. Sequencing of tryptic peptides from alpha and from mixtures of the two beta or two gamma subunits revealed sequence identities with subunits of the mouse GA-binding protein (GABP), a ubiquitously expressed ETS domain activator composed of three subunits, alpha, beta 1, and beta 2. To understand the precise relationship between NRF-2 and GABP, cDNAs for all five NRF-2 subunits have now been cloned and their products have been overexpressed. The results establish that the two additional NRF-2 subunits are molecular variants that differ from GABP beta 1 and beta 2 by having a 12-amino-acid insertion containing two serine doublets. PCR and RNase protection assays show that mRNAs for these variants are expressed in the human but not the rodent cells and tissues examined. The insertion did not alter the ability of the beta and gamma subunits to associate with alpha, the DNA-binding subunit, nor did it affect the ability of NRF-2 beta 1 or beta 2 to direct high-affinity binding of alpha to tandem sites in the RCO4 promoter. In addition, the four NRF-2 beta and gamma subunits were equally proficient in activating transcription in transfected cells when fused to a GAL4 DNA-binding domain. The domain responsible for this transcriptional activation was localized by deletion mapping to a region of approximately 70 amino acids that is conserved in all four NRF-2 beta and gamma subunits. The repeated glutamine-containing hydrophobic clusters within this region bear a strong resemblance to those recently implicated in protein-protein interactions within the transcriptional apparatus.

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