Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 1994 Sep 29;371(6496):429-32.

Interaction between two homeodomain proteins is specified by a short C-terminal tail.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0502.

Erratum in

  • Nature 1994 Nov 17;372(6503):279.


Two yeast homeodomain proteins, a1 and alpha 2, interact and cooperatively bind the haploid-specific gene (hsg) operator, resulting in the repression of a set of genes involved in the determination of cell type. The cooperative binding of a1 and alpha 2 to DNA can be reconstituted in vitro using purified fragments of a1 and alpha 2. Only the homeodomain is needed for a1, but for alpha 2 a C-terminal 22-amino-acid tail is required as well. As most of the specificity of DNA binding appears to derive from a1, we proposed that alpha 2 functions in the a1/alpha 2 heterodimer to contact a1 with its tail. By construction and analysis of several chimaeric proteins, we investigate how two DNA-binding proteins, one with low intrinsic specificity (alpha 2) and one with no apparent intrinsic DNA-binding ability (a1), can together create a highly specific DNA-binding activity. We show that the 22-amino-acid region of alpha 2 immediately C-terminal to the homeodomain, when grafted onto the a1 homeodomain, converts a1 to a strong DNA-binding protein. This alpha 2 tail can also be attached to the Drosophila engrailed homeodomain, and the chimaeric protein now binds cooperatively to DNA with a1, showing how a simple change can create a new homeodomain combination that specifically recognizes a new DNA operator.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center