Small maf proteins heterodimerize with Fos and may act as competitive repressors of the NF-E2 transcription factor

Kohsuke Kataoka, Kazuhiko Igarashi, Ken Itoh, Kosaku T. Fujiwara, Makoto Noda, Masayuki Yamamoto, Makoto Nishizawa

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200 Citations (Scopus)


The maf oncogene encodes a bZip nuclear protein which recognizes sequences related to an AP-1 site either as a homodimer or as heterodimers with Fos and Jun. We describe here a novel maf-related gene, mafG, which shows extensive homology with two other maf-related genes, mafK and mafF. These three maf- related genes encode small basic-leucine zipper proteins lacking the trans- activator domain of v-Maf. Bacterially expressed small Maf proteins bind to DNA as homodimers with a sequence recognition profile that is virtually identical to that of v-Maf. As we have previously described, the three small Maf proteins also dimerize with the large subunit of NF-E2 (p45) to form an erythroid cell-specific transcription factor, NF-E2, which has distinct DNA- binding specificity. This study shows that the small Maf proteins can also dimerize among themselves and with Fos and a newly identified p45-related molecule (Ech) but not with v-Maf or Jun. Although the small Maf proteins preferentially recognize the consensus NF-E2 sequence as heterodimers with either NF-E2 p45, Ech, or Fos, these heterodimers seemed to be different in their transactivation potentials. Coexpression of Fos and small Mafs could not activate a promoter with tandem repeats of the NF-E2 site. These results raise the possibility that tissue-specific gene expression and differentiation of erythroid cells are regulated by competition among Fos, NF-E2 p45, and Ech for small Maf proteins and for binding sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2180-2190
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1995 Apr


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