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EMBO J. 1996 Nov 1;15(21):5849-65.

Net (ERP/SAP2) one of the Ras-inducible TCFs, has a novel inhibitory domain with resemblance to the helix-loop-helix motif.

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Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, CNRS, INSERM, ULP, Illkirch, France.


The three ternary complex factors (TCFs), Net (ERP/ SAP-2), ELK-1 and SAP-1, are highly related ets oncogene family members that participate in the response of the cell to Ras and growth signals. Understanding the different roles of these factors will provide insights into how the signals result in coordinate regulation of the cell. We show that Net inhibits transcription under basal conditions, in which SAP-1a is inactive and ELK-1 stimulates. Repression is mediated by the NID, the Net Inhibitory Domain of about 50 amino acids, which autoregulates the Net protein and also inhibits when it is isolated in a heterologous fusion protein. Net is particularly sensitive to Ras activation. Ras activates Net through the C-domain, which is conserved between the three TCFs, and the NID is an efficient inhibitor of Ras activation. The NID, as well as more C-terminal sequences, inhibit DNA binding. Net is more refractory to DNA binding than the other TCFs, possibly due to the presence of multiple inhibitory elements. The NID may adopt a helix-loop-helix (HLH) structure, as evidenced by homology to other HLH motifs, structure predictions, model building and mutagenesis of critical residues. The sequence resemblance with myogenic factors suggested that Net may form complexes with the same partners. Indeed, we found that Net can interact in vivo with the basic HLH factor, E47. We propose that Net is regulated at the level of its latent DNA-binding activity by protein interactions and/or phosphorylation. Net may form complexes with HLH proteins as well as SRF on specific promotor sequences. The identification of the novel inhibitory domain provides a new inroad into exploring the different roles of the ternary complex factors in growth control and transformation.

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