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J Biol Chem. 1998 Apr 24;273(17):10506-14.

Interaction of transcription factors with serum response factor. Identification of the Elk-1 binding surface.

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Department of Biochemistry and Genetics, The Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4HH, United Kingdom.


Serum response elements (SREs) play important roles in transforming extracellular signals into specific nuclear responses. The SRE-binding protein, serum response factor (SRF), plays a pivotal role in this process. Several transcription factors have been shown to interact with SRF and thereby create distinct complexes with different regulatory potentials. The ETS domain transcription factor Elk-1 is one such protein and serves to integrate distinct mitogen-activated protein kinase cascades at SREs. Elk-1 uses a short hydrophobic surface presented on the surface of an alpha-helix to interact with SRF. In this study we have used site-directed mutagenesis to identify residues in SRF that comprise the Elk-1 binding surface. The Elk-1 binding surface is composed of residues that lie on a hydrophobic surface-exposed groove located at the junction of the MADS box and C-terminal SAM motif. Different residues are implicated in interactions between SRF and the transcription factor Fli-1, indicating that although some overlap with the Elk-1 binding surface occurs, their interaction surfaces on SRF are distinct. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that the SRF DNA-binding domain acts as docking site for multiple transcription factors that can bind to small surface-exposed patches within this domain.

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