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Mol Cell Biol. 1997 Nov;17(11):6448-58.

AbdB-like Hox proteins stabilize DNA binding by the Meis1 homeodomain proteins.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California VA Medical Center, San Francisco 94121, USA.


Recent studies show that Hox homeodomain proteins from paralog groups 1 to 10 gain DNA binding specificity and affinity through cooperative binding with the divergent homeodomain protein Pbx1. However, the AbdB-like Hox proteins from paralogs 11, 12, and 13 do not interact with Pbx1a, raising the possibility of different protein partners. The Meis1 homeobox gene has 44% identity to Pbx within the homeodomain and was identified as a common site of viral integration in myeloid leukemias arising in BXH-2 mice. These integrations result in constitutive activation of Meis1. Furthermore, the Hoxa-9 gene is frequently activated by viral integration in the same BXH-2 leukemias, suggesting a biological synergy between these two distinct classes of homeodomain proteins in causing malignant transformation. We now show that the Hoxa-9 protein physically interacts with Meis1 proteins by forming heterodimeric binding complexes on a DNA target containing a Meis1 site (TGACAG) and an AbdB-like Hox site (TTTTACGAC). Hox proteins from the other AbdB-like paralogs, Hoxa-10, Hoxa-11, Hoxd-12, and Hoxb-13, also form DNA binding complexes with Meis1b, while Hox proteins from other paralogs do not appear to interact with Meis1 proteins. DNA binding complexes formed by Meis1 with Hox proteins dissociate much more slowly than DNA complexes with Meis1 alone, suggesting that Hox proteins stabilize the interactions of Meis1 proteins with their DNA targets.

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