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Genes Dev. 2008 Apr 15;22(8):998-1010. doi: 10.1101/gad.1632208.

Daxx represses RelB target promoters via DNA methyltransferase recruitment and DNA hypermethylation.

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Program in Apoptosis and Cell Death Research, Burnham Institute for Medical Research, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The apoptosis-modulating protein Daxx functions as a transcriptional repressor that binds to and suppresses the activity of nuclear factor-kappaB member RelB, among other transcription factors. The mechanism by which Daxx represses RelB target genes remains elusive. In this report, we demonstrate that Daxx controls epigenetic silencing of RelB target genes by DNA methylation. Daxx potently represses the RelB target genes dapk1, dapk3, c-flip, and birc3 (ciap2) at both the mRNA and protein levels. Recruitment of Daxx to target gene promoters, and its ability to repress them, is RelB-dependent, as shown by experiments using relB(-/-) cells. Importantly, methylation of target promoters is decreased in daxx(-/-) cells compared with daxx(+/+) cells, and stable transfection of daxx(-/-) cells with Daxx restores DNA methylation. Furthermore, Daxx recruits DNA methyl transferase 1 (Dnmt1) to target promoters, resulting in synergistic repression. The observation that Daxx functions to target DNA methyltransferases onto RelB target sites in the genome provides a rare example of a gene-specific mechanism for epigenetic silencing. Given the documented role of several of the RelB-regulated genes in diseases, particularly cancer, the findings have implications for developing therapeutic strategies based on epigenetic-modifying drugs.

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