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Mol Vis January 1, 2019; 25 165-173.
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The C-terminus of the retinal homeobox (rax) gene product modulates transcription in a context-dependent manner.

Buescher JL , El-Hodiri HM .

Purpose: The evolutionarily conserved retinal homeobox (Rax) transcription factor is essential for normal eye development in all vertebrates. Despite Rax''s biologic significance, the molecular mechanisms underlying Rax molecular function as a transcriptional regulator are poorly defined. The rax gene encodes a conserved octapeptide motif (OP) near the N-terminus and several conserved regions in the C-terminus of unknown function, including the orthopedia, aristaless, rax (OAR) domain and the RX domain. The purpose of this study is to investigate the contribution of these conserved domains in Rax function. Methods: N-and C-terminal deletion and point mutations were generated in Xenopus laevis rax.L (previously known as Rx1A) using PCR-based methods. We examined the ability of mutated Rax to transactivate a reporter gene consisting of a portion of a rax target gene promoter (from the Xenopus rhodopsin gene) fused to a firefly luciferase coding region and transfected into human embryonic kidney 293T (HEK293T) cells. Portions of the Rax C-terminal region were also assayed for transactivation activity in the context of a heterologous DNA binding domain with an appropriate reporter gene. Results: Full-length Rax weakly activated the reporter. Deletion of the Rax C-terminus increased Rax activity, suggesting that the C-terminus functions to repress Rax activity. Further deletion eventually resulted in a decrease in activity, suggesting that the C-terminal region also can function to enhance Rax activity. Deletion or mutation of the OP motif resulted in a slight decrease in Rax activity. Mutation or deletion of the N-terminal OP motif resulted in a mild decrease in activity and dampened the activity levels of the C-terminal deletions. Further, fusion of the C-terminus of Rax to a heterologous DNA binding domain enhanced transactivation. Conclusions: The present data indicate that the C-terminus of Rax can function to repress or activate transcription in a context-dependent manner. These data support our hypothesis that the highly conserved OAR domain, in combination with other regulatory elements in the Rax C-terminus, coordinates Rax activity, perhaps through functional interaction with the N-terminal OP motif. Taken together, these data provide insight into the structural features that regulate Rax activity.

PubMed ID: 30820152
PMC ID: PMC6386513
Article link:
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: arx crx lgals4.2 otx2 rax rax2 rho yap1

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References [+] :
Amen, Chromatin-associated HMG-17 is a major regulator of homeodomain transcription factor activity modulated by Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. 2008, Pubmed