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Nucleic Acids Res. 2018 Sep 28;46(17):9220-9235. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky680.

TGIF1 homeodomain interacts with Smad MH1 domain and represses TGF-β signaling.

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Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, Baldiri Reixac, 10, Barcelona 08028, Spain.
Departament de Química Inorgànica i Orgànica, Secció de Química Orgànica, Universitat de Barcelona, Martí i Franquès 1-11, 08028, Barcelona, Spain.
ICREA, Passeig Lluís Companys 23, 08010-Barcelona, Spain.


TGIF1 is a multifunctional protein that represses TGF-β-activated transcription by interacting with Smad2-Smad4 complexes. We found that the complex structure of TGIF1-HD bound to the TGACA motif revealed a combined binding mode that involves the HD core and the major groove, on the one hand, and the amino-terminal (N-term) arm and the minor groove of the DNA, on the other. We also show that TGIF1-HD interacts with the MH1 domain of Smad proteins, thereby indicating that TGIF1-HD is also a protein-binding domain. Moreover, the formation of the HD-MH1 complex partially hinders the DNA-binding site of the complex, preventing the efficient interaction of TGIF1-HD with DNA. We propose that the binding of the TGIF1 C-term to the Smad2-MH2 domain brings both the HD and MH1 domain into close proximity. This local proximity facilitates the interaction of these DNA-binding domains, thus strengthening the formation of the protein complex versus DNA binding. Once the protein complex has been formed, the TGIF1-Smad system would be released from promoters/enhancers, thereby illustrating one of the mechanisms used by TGIF1 to exert its function as an active repressor of Smad-induced TGF-β signaling.

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