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Mol Cell Biol. 1998 Dec;18(12):7259-68.

A role for Groucho tetramerization in transcriptional repression.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095-1569, USA.


The Drosophila Groucho (Gro) protein is a corepressor required by a number of DNA-binding transcriptional repressors. Comparison of Gro with its homologues in other eukaryotic organisms reveals that Gro contains, in addition to a conserved C-terminal WD repeat domain, a conserved N-terminal domain, which has previously been implicated in transcriptional repression. We determined, via a variety of hydrodynamic measurements as well as protein cross-linking, that native Gro is a tetramer in solution and that tetramerization is mediated by two putative amphipathic alpha-helices (termed leucine zipper-like motifs) found in the N-terminal region. Point mutations in the leucine zipper-like motifs that block tetramerization also block repression by Gro, as assayed in cultured Drosophila cells with Gal4-Gro fusion proteins. Furthermore, the heterologous tetramerization domain from p53 fully substitutes for the Gro tetramerization domain in transcriptional repression. These findings suggest that oligomerization is essential for Gro-mediated repression and that the primary function of the conserved N-terminal domain is to mediate this oligomerization.

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