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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Jun;16(6):2627-36.

Mutational analysis of the DNA binding, dimerization, and transcriptional activation domains of MEF2C.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Oncology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas 75235, USA.


There are four members of the myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2) family of transcription factors in vertebrates, MEF2A, -B, -C, and -D, which have homology within a MADS box at their amino termini and an adjacent motif known as the MEF2 domain. These factors activate muscle gene expression by binding as homo- and heterodimers to an A/T-rich DNA sequence in the control regions of muscle-specific genes. To understand the mechanisms of muscle gene activation of MEF2 factors, we generated a series of deletion and site-directed mutants of MEF2C. These mutants demonstrated that the MADS and MEF2 domains mediate DNA binding and dimerization, whereas the carboxyl terminus is required for transcriptional activation. Amino acids that are essential for MEF2 site-dependent transcription but which do not affect DNA binding were also identified in the MEF2 domain. This type of positive-control mutant demonstrates that the transcription activation domain of MEF2C, although separate from the MEF2 domain, is dependent on this domain for transcriptional activation through the MEF2 site. MEF2 mutants that are defective for DNA binding act as dominant negative mutants and can inhibit activation of MEF2-dependent genes by wild-type MEF2C.

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