The Rel family of transcription factors participate in a diverse array of processes, including acute responses to injury and infection, lymphocyte differentiation, and embryonic patterning. These proteins show homology in an extended region spanning about 300 amino acids (the Rel homology domain [RHD]). The RHD mediates both DNA binding and interactions with a family of inhibitor proteins, including IκBα and cactus. Previous studies have shown that an N-terminal region of the RHD (containing the sequence motif RXXRXRXXC) is important for DNA binding, while the C-terminal nuclear localization sequence is important for inhibitor interactions. Here we present a structure-function analysis of the Drosophila dorsal RHD. These studies identify another sequence within the RHD (region I) that is essential for inhibitor interactions. There is a tight correlation between the conservation of region I sequences and the specificity of Rel-inhibitor interactions in both flies and mammals. Point mutations in the region I sequence can uncouple DNA binding and inhibitor interactions in vitro. The phenotypes associated with the expression of a modified dorsal protein in transgenic Drosophila embryos suggest a similar uncoupling in vivo. Recent crystallographic studies suggest that the region I sequence and the nuclear localization sequence might form a composite surface which interacts with inhibitor proteins.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology