The Drosophila kismet gene is related to chromatin-remodeling factors and is required for both segmentation and segment identity.
The Drosophila kismet gene was identified in a screen for dominant suppressors of Polycomb, a repressor of homeotic genes. Here we show that kismet mutations suppress the Polycomb mutant phenotype by blocking the ectopic transcription of homeotic genes. Loss of zygotic kismet function causes homeotic transformations similar to those associated with loss-of-function mutations in the homeotic genes Sex combs reduced and Abdominal-B. kismet is also required for proper larval body segmentation. Loss of maternal kismet function causes segmentation defects similar to those caused by mutations in the pair-rule gene even-skipped. The kismet gene encodes several large nuclear proteins that are ubiquitously expressed along the anterior-posterior axis. The Kismet proteins contain a domain conserved in the trithorax group protein Brahma and related chromatin-remodeling factors, providing further evidence that alterations in chromatin structure are required to maintain the spatially restricted patterns of homeotic gene transcription. (+info
A Drosophila doublesex-related gene, terra, is involved in somitogenesis in vertebrates.
The Drosophila doublesex (dsx) gene encodes a transcription factor that mediates sex determination. We describe the characterization of a novel zebrafish zinc-finger gene, terra, which contains a DNA binding domain similar to that of the Drosophila dsx gene. However, unlike dsx, terra is transiently expressed in the presomitic mesoderm and newly formed somites. Expression of terra in presomitic mesoderm is restricted to cells that lack expression of MyoD. In vivo, terra expression is reduced by hedgehog but enhanced by BMP signals. Overexpression of terra induces rapid apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that a tight regulation of terra expression is required during embryogenesis. Terra has both human and mouse homologs and is specifically expressed in mouse somites. Taken together, our findings suggest that terra is a highly conserved protein that plays specific roles in early somitogenesis of vertebrates. (+info
Telomerase reverse transcriptase gene is a direct target of c-Myc but is not functionally equivalent in cellular transformation.
The telomerase reverse transcriptase component (TERT) is not expressed in most primary somatic human cells and tissues, but is upregulated in the majority of immortalized cell lines and tumors. Here, we identify the c-Myc transcription factor as a direct mediator of telomerase activation in primary human fibroblasts through its ability to specifically induce TERT gene expression. Through the use of a hormone inducible form of c-Myc (c-Myc-ER), we demonstrate that Myc-induced activation of the hTERT promoter requires an evolutionarily conserved E-box and that c-Myc-ER-induced accumulation of hTERT mRNA takes place in the absence of de novo protein synthesis. These findings demonstrate that the TERT gene is a direct transcriptional target of c-Myc. Since telomerase activation frequently correlates with immortalization and telomerase functions to stabilize telomers in cycling cells, we tested whether Myc-induced activation of TERT gene expression represents an important mechanism through which c-Myc acts to immortalize cells. Employing the rat embryo fibroblast cooperation assay, we show that TERT is unable to substitute for c-Myc in the transformation of primary rodent fibroblasts, suggesting that the transforming activities of Myc extend beyond its ability to activate TERT gene expression and hence telomerase activity. (+info
Molecular phylogeny of the ETS gene family.
We have constructed a molecular phylogeny of the ETS gene family. By distance and parsimony analysis of the ETS conserved domains we show that the family containing so far 29 different genes in vertebrates can be divided into 13 groups of genes namely ETS, ER71, GABP, PEA3, ERG, ERF, ELK, DETS4, ELF, ESE, TEL, YAN, SPI. Since the three dimensional structure of the ETS domain has revealed a similarity with the winged-helix-turn-helix proteins, we used two of them (CAP and HSF) to root the tree. This allowed us to show that the family can be divided into five subfamilies: ETS, DETS4, ELF, TEL and SPI. The ETS subfamily comprises the ETS, ER71, GABP, PEA3, ERG, ERF and the ELK groups which appear more related to each other than to any other ETS family members. The fact that some members of these subfamilies were identified in early metazoans such as diploblasts and sponges suggests that the diversification of ETS family genes predates the diversification of metazoans. By the combined analysis of both the ETS and the PNT domains, which are conserved in some members of the family, we showed that the GABP group, and not the ERG group, is the one most closely related to the ETS group. We also observed that the speed of accumulation of mutations in the various genes of the family is highly variable. Noticeably, paralogous members of the ELK group exhibit strikingly different evolutionary speed suggesting that the evolutionary pressure they support is very different. (+info
A single membrane-embedded negative charge is critical for recognizing positively charged drugs by the Escherichia coli multidrug resistance protein MdfA.
The nature of the broad substrate specificity phenomenon, as manifested by multidrug resistance proteins, is not yet understood. In the Escherichia coli multidrug transporter, MdfA, the hydrophobicity profile and PhoA fusion analysis have so far identified only one membrane-embedded charged amino acid residue (E26). In order to determine whether this negatively charged residue may play a role in multidrug recognition, we evaluated the expression and function of MdfA constructs mutated at this position. Replacing E26 with the positively charged residue lysine abolished the multidrug resistance activity against positively charged drugs, but retained chloramphenicol efflux and resistance. In contrast, when the negative charge was preserved in a mutant with aspartate instead of E26, chloramphenicol recognition and transport were drastically inhibited; however, the mutant exhibited almost wild-type multidrug resistance activity against lipophilic cations. These results suggest that although the negative charge at position 26 is not essential for active transport, it dictates the multidrug resistance character of MdfA. We show that such a negative charge is also found in other drug resistance transporters, and its possible significance regarding multidrug resistance is discussed. (+info
A novel genetic screen for snRNP assembly factors in yeast identifies a conserved protein, Sad1p, also required for pre-mRNA splicing.
The assembly pathway of spliceosomal snRNPs in yeast is poorly understood. We devised a screen to identify mutations blocking the assembly of newly synthesized U4 snRNA into a functional snRNP. Fifteen mutant strains failing either to accumulate the newly synthesized U4 snRNA or to assemble a U4/U6 particle were identified and categorized into 13 complementation groups. Thirteen previously identified splicing-defective prp mutants were also assayed for U4 snRNP assembly defects. Mutations in the U4/U6 snRNP components Prp3p, Prp4p, and Prp24p led to disassembly of the U4/U6 snRNP particle and degradation of the U6 snRNA, while prp17-1 and prp19-1 strains accumulated free U4 and U6 snRNA. A detailed analysis of a newly identified mutant, the sad1-1 mutant, is presented. In addition to having the snRNP assembly defect, the sad1-1 mutant is severely impaired in splicing at the restrictive temperature: the RP29 pre-mRNA strongly accumulates and splicing-dependent production of beta-galactosidase from reporter constructs is abolished, while extracts prepared from sad1-1 strains fail to splice pre-mRNA substrates in vitro. The sad1-1 mutant is the only splicing-defective mutant analyzed whose mutation preferentially affects assembly of newly synthesized U4 snRNA into the U4/U6 particle. SAD1 encodes a novel protein of 52 kDa which is essential for cell viability. Sad1p localizes to the nucleus and is not stably associated with any of the U snRNAs. Sad1p contains a putative zinc finger and is phylogenetically highly conserved, with homologues identified in human, Caenorhabditis elegans, Arabidospis, and Drosophila. (+info
The highly conserved beta-hairpin of the paired DNA-binding domain is required for assembly of Pax-Ets ternary complexes.
Pax family transcription factors bind DNA through the paired domain. This domain, which is comprised of two helix-turn-helix motifs and a beta-hairpin structure, is a target of mutations in congenital disorders of mice and humans. Previously, we showed that Pax-5 (B-cell-specific activator protein) recruits proteins of the Ets proto-oncogene family to bind a composite DNA site that is essential for efficient transcription of the early-B-cell-specific mb-1 promoter. Here, evidence is provided for specific interactions between Ets-1 and the amino-terminal subdomains of Pax proteins. By tethering deletion fragments of Pax-5 to a heterologous DNA-binding domain, we show that 73 amino acids (amino acids 12 to 84) of its amino-terminal subdomain can recruit the ETS domain of Ets-1 to bind the composite site. Furthermore, an amino acid (Gln22) within the highly conserved beta-hairpin motif of Pax-5 is essential for efficient recruitment of Ets-1. The ability to recruit Ets proteins to bind DNA is a shared property of Pax proteins, as demonstrated by cooperative DNA binding of Ets-1 with sequences derived from the paired domains of Pax-2 and Pax-3. The strict conservation of sequences required for recruitment of Ets proteins suggests that Pax-Ets interactions are important for regulating transcription in diverse tissues during cellular differentiation. (+info
Analysis of a ubiquitous promoter element in a primitive eukaryote: early evolution of the initiator element.
Typical metazoan core promoter elements, such as TATA boxes and Inr motifs, have yet to be identified in early-evolving eukaryotes, underscoring the extensive divergence of these organisms. Towards the identification of core promoters in protists, we have studied transcription of protein-encoding genes in one of the earliest-diverging lineages of Eukaryota, that represented by the parasitic protist Trichomonas vaginalis. A highly conserved element, comprised of a motif similar to a metazoan initiator (Inr) element, surrounds the start site of transcription in all examined T. vaginalis genes. In contrast, a metazoan-like TATA element appears to be absent in trichomonad promoters. We demonstrate that the conserved motif found in T. vaginalis protein-encoding genes is an Inr promoter element. This trichomonad Inr is essential for transcription, responsible for accurate start site selection, and interchangeable between genes, demonstrating its role as a core promoter element. The sequence requirements of the trichomonad Inr are similar to metazoan Inrs and can be replaced by a mammalian Inr. These studies show that the Inr is a ubiquitous, core promoter element for protein-encoding genes in an early-evolving eukaryote. Functional and structural similarities between this protist Inr and the metazoan Inr strongly indicate that the Inr promoter element evolved early in eukaryotic evolution. (+info