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Neuroreport. 1997 May 27;8(8):2041-5.

A single residue within the homeodomain of the Brn-3 POU family transcription factors determines whether they activate or repress the SNAP-25 promoter.

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Department of Molecular Pathology, University College London Medical School, UK.


The closely related POU family transcription factors Brn-3a and Brn-3b differ in their effect on a number of different neuronally expressed promoters such as that of the gene encoding the synaptic vesicle component SNAP-25. Thus Brn-3a activates these promoters whilst Brn-3b represses both their basal activity and their activation by Brn-3a. We show here that alterations of a single amino acid at position 22 in the POU-homeodomain from the isoleucine found in Brn-3b to the valine found at the equivalent position in Brn-3a converts Brn-3b from a repressor to an activator of the SNAP-25 gene promoter. The converse mutation in Brn-3a abolishes its ability to activate the SNAP-25 gene promoter and allows it to repress the basal activity of the promoter and its activation by wild type Brn-3a. This is the first time that a single amino acid change has been shown to convert an activator of a naturally occurring promoter to a repressor and vice versa. These results are discussed in terms of the critical role of position 22 in the POU homeodomain in the protein-protein interactions of POU proteins.

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