Gene and Protein
In humans, the gene RUNX1 is 260 kilobases (kb) in length, and is located on chromosome 21 (21q22.12). The gene can be transcribed from 2 alternative promoters, promoter 1 (distal) or promoter 2 (proximal). As a result, various isoforms of RUNX1 can be synthesized, facilitated by alternative splicing. The full-length RUNX1 protein is encoded by 12 exons. Among the exons, contain two defined domains, namely the runt homology domain (RHD) or the runt domain (exons 2, 3 and 4), and the transactivation domain (TAD) (exon 6). These domains are necessary for RUNX1 to mediate DNA binding and protein-protein interactions respectively. The transcription of RUNX1 is regulated by 2 enhancers (regulatory element 1 and regulatory element 2), and these tissue specific enhancers enable the binding of lymphoid or erythroid regulatory proteins, therefore the gene activity of RUNX1 is highly active in the haematopoietic system.
The protein RUNX1 is composed of 453 amino acids. As a transcription factor (TF), its DNA binding ability is encoded by the runt domain (residues 50 – 177), which is homologous to the p53 family. The runt domain of RUNX1 binds to the core consensus sequence TGTGNNN, whereby NNN can stand for TTT or TCA. DNA recognition is achieved by loops of the 12-stranded β-barrel and the C-terminus “tail” (residues 170 – 177), which clamp around the sugar phosphate backbone and fits into the major and minor grooves of DNA. Specificity is achieved by making direct or water-mediated contacts with the bases. RUNX1 can bind DNA as a monomer, but its DNA binding affinity is enhanced by 10 fold if it heterodimerises with the core binding factor β (CBFβ), also via the runt domain. In fact, the RUNX family is often referred to as α-subunits, together with binding of a common β-subunit CBFβ, RUNX can behave as heterodimeric transcription factors collectively called the core binding factors (CBFs).
The consensus binding site for CBF has been identified to be a 7 bp sequence PyGPyGGTPy. Py denotes pyrimidine which can be either cytosine or thymine.
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