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Mol Cell Biol. 1997 Jan;17(1):154-62.

The carboxy-terminal transactivation domain of Oct-4 acquires cell specificity through the POU domain.

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Gene Expression Programme, EMBL, Heidelberg, Germany.


The POU transcription factor Oct-4 is expressed in totipotent and pluripotent cells of the early mouse embryo and the germ cell lineage. Transactivation capacities of regions flanking the DNA binding domain of Oct-4 were analyzed in undifferentiated and differentiated cell lines. The amino- and carboxy-terminal regions (N domain and C domain) fused to the Gal4 DNA binding domain both functioned as transactivation domains in all cell lines tested. However, the C domain failed to activate transcription in some cell lines in the context of the native protein. The underlying regulatory mechanism appears to involve the POU domain of Oct-4 and can discriminate between different POU domains, since constructs in which the C domain was instead fused to the POU domain of Pit-1 were again equally active in all cell lines. These results indicate that the C domain is subject to cell-type-specific regulation mediated by the Oct-4 POU domain. Phosphopeptide analysis revealed that the cell-type-specific difference of C-domain activity correlates with a difference in Oct-4 phosphorylation status. Since Oct-4 is expressed in a variety of distinct cell types during murine embryogenesis, these results suggest an additional regulatory mechanism for determining Oct-4 function in rapidly changing cell types during development.

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