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J Biol Chem. 2012 Mar 2;287(10):7324-34. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.306936. Epub 2012 Jan 17.

Role of runt-related transcription factor 3 (RUNX3) in transcription regulation of natural cytotoxicity receptor 1 (NCR1/NKp46), an activating natural killer (NK) cell receptor.

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Terry Fox Laboratory, British Columbia Cancer Agency and Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z1L3, Canada.


Natural cytotoxicity receptor 1 (NCR1), also known as NKp46, is a natural killer (NK) lymphocyte-activating receptor. It is involved in major aspects of NK immune function and shows a high degree of lineage specificity in blood and bone marrow. The nature of its NK-restricted expression is not well understood. In this study, we confirm that human NCR1 NK-specific expression is achieved at the mRNA level. We found two key cis-regulatory elements in the immediate vicinity upstream of the gene. One element acts as an essential promoter, whereas the other acts as a tissue-dependent enhancer/repressor. This latter regulatory element contains a runt related-transcription factor (RUNX) recognition motif that preferentially binds RUNX3. Interfering with RUNX proteins using a dominant negative form results in decreased Ncr1 expression. RUNX3 overexpression had the opposite effect. These findings shed light on the role of RUNX3 in the control of an important NK-activating receptor.

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