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J Biol Chem. 1997 Mar 28;272(13):8515-24.

GATA-4 activates transcription via two novel domains that are conserved within the GATA-4/5/6 subfamily.

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Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


GATA-4 is one of the earliest developmental markers of the precardiac mesoderm, heart, and gut and has been shown to activate regulatory elements controlling transcription of genes encoding cardiac-specific proteins. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying the transcriptional activity of the GATA-4 protein, structure-function analyses were performed. These analyses revealed that the C-terminal zinc finger and adjacent basic domain of GATA-4 is bifunctional, modulating both DNA-binding and nuclear localization activities. The N terminus of the protein encodes two independent transcriptional Activation Domains (amino acids 1-74 and amino acids 130-177). Amino acid residues were identified within each domain that are required for transcriptional activation. Finally, we have shown that regions of Xenopus GATA-5 and -6 corresponding to Activation Domains I and II, respectively, function as potent transcriptional activators. The identification and functional characterization of two evolutionarily conserved transcriptional Activation Domains within the GATA-4/5/6 subfamily suggests that each of these domains modulates critical functions in the transcriptional regulatory program(s) encoded by GATA-4, -5, and -6 during vertebrate development. As such these data provide novel insights into the molecular mechanisms that control development of the heart.

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