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Dev Biol. 1997 Jan 15;181(2):144-55.

GATA-2 is a maternal transcription factor present in Xenopus oocytes as a nuclear complex which is maintained throughout early development.

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Developmental Biology Research Centre, Division of Biomedical Sciences, The Randall Institute, King's College London, United Kingdom.


We show that Xenopus oocytes and embryos contain GATA-2, stored in nuclei as a non-chromatin-bound complex. Its binding site specificity is different from that of GATA-1, having a much higher affinity for the motif with a core GATC sequence. This binding site preference was markedly reduced by either release of the factor with deoxycholate or purification on a DNA affinity column, suggesting a role for a cofactor(s). The identity of the maternal GATA factor was established as GATA-2 in two ways: (1) binding to an oligonucleotide probe was abolished by inclusion of either of two GATA-2 monoclonal antibodies, and (2) a protein of correct molecular weight for GATA-2 was detected by immunoblotting with a polyclonal antibody raised against a Xenopus GATA-2-specific peptide. Although predominantly complexed, some of the oocyte GATA-2 is functional as a transcription factor because the transcriptional activity of the chicken betaH-globin promoter injected into oocytes was reduced by mutation of either of two GATA binding sites. This effect was more pronounced when the stronger of the two sites was mutated. Butyrate treatment of oocytes stimulated cap-site initiation by up to 17-fold with both normal promoter and GATA site mutant constructs, showing that the mechanism of butyrate stimulation is not via GATA-2. The possible significance of regulating the availability of maternal GATA-2 during early development is discussed.

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