We have previously shown that Nkx3.2, a member of the NK class of homeoproteins, functions as a transcriptional repressor to promote somitic chondrogenesis. However, it has not been addressed whether Nkx3.2 can bind to DNA in a sequence-specific manner and whether DNA binding by Nkx3.2 is required for its biological activity. In this work, we employed a DNA binding site selection assay, which identified TAAGTG as a high affinity Nkx3.2 binding sequence. Sequence-specific binding of Nkx3.2 to the TAAGTG motif in vitro was confirmed by electrophoretic mobility shift assays, and mutagenesis of this sequence revealed that HRAGTG (where H represents A, C, or T, and R represents A or G) comprises the consensus DNA binding site for Nkx3.2. Consistent with these findings, the expression of a reporter gene containing reiterated Nkx3.2 binding sites was repressed in vivo by Nkx3.2 co-expression. In addition, we have generated a DNA nonbinding point mutant of Nkx3.2 (Nkx3.2-N200Q), which contains an asparagine to glutamine missense mutation in the homeodomain. Interestingly, despite being defective in DNA binding, Nkx3.2-N200Q still retains its intrinsic transcriptional repressor function. Finally, we demonstrate that unlike wild-type Nkx3.2, Nkx3.2-N200Q is unable to activate the chondrocyte differentiation program in somitic mesoderm, indicating that DNA binding by Nkx3.2 is critical for this factor to induce somitic chondrogenesis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology