The homeo box gene even-skipped (eve) encodes a 376-amino-acid protein that binds with high affinity to sequences located near the 5' termini of the eve and en genes. The 5' en sites are A + T rich and contain copies of the 10-base-pair (bp) consensus sequence T-C-A-A-T-T-A-A-A-T. In contrast, the 5' eve sites are G + C rich and contain the 9-bp sequence T-C-A-G-C-A-C-C-G. Among the five different homeo box proteins that have been tested for binding, eve is unique in that it shows virtually equal preference for the A + T-rich 5' en binding sites and the G + C-rich 5' eve sites. Most of the other proteins bind with a relatively higher affinity to the en sites than to the eve sites. In an effort to identify the regions of the eve protein that are responsible for its efficient binding to both classes of recognition sequences, we analyzed the DNA-binding properties of various mutant eve proteins. These studies suggest that the homeo domain of the eve protein is responsible for both binding activities. However, mutations in distant regions of the protein influenced the binding behavior of the eve homeo domain and caused a reduction in binding to the G + C class of recognition sites. We propose that the protein context of the homeo domain can influence its DNA-binding properties.
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