Regulatory role for a conserved motif adjacent to the homeodomain of Hox10 proteins

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Development of the vertebrate axial skeleton requires the concerted activity of several Hox genes. Among them, Hox genes belonging to the paralog group 10 are essential for the formation of the lumbar region of the vertebral column, owing to their capacity to block rib formation. In this work, we explored the basis for the rib-repressing activity of Hox10 proteins. Because genetic experiments in mice demonstrated that Hox10 proteins are strongly redundant in this function, we first searched for common motifs among the group members. We identified the presence of two small sequences flanking the homeodomain that are phylogenetically conserved among Hox10 proteins and that seem to be specific for this group. We show here that one of these motifs is required but not sufficient for the rib-repressing activity of Hox10 proteins. This motif includes two potential phosphorylation sites, which are essential for protein activity as their mutation to alanines resulted in a total loss of rib-repressing properties. Our data indicates that this motif has a significant regulatory function, modulating interactions with more N-terminal parts of the Hox protein, eventually triggering the rib-repressing program. In addition, this motif might also regulate protein activity by alteration of the protein's DNA-binding affinity through changes in the phosphorylation state of two conserved tyrosine residues within the homeodomain.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)2703-2710
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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