Drosophila homologs of the proto-oncogene product PEBP2/CBFβ regulate the DNA-binding properties of runt

Greg Golling, Ling Hui Li, Melissa Pepling, Michael Stebbins, J. Peter Gergen

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87 Scopus citations


The Drosophila runt gene is the founding member of the Runt domain family of transcriptional regulators. Mammalian Runt domain genes encode the α subunit of the heteromeric DNA-binding factor PEBP2/CBF. The unrelated PEBP2/CBFβ protein interacts with the Runt domain to increase its affinity for DNA. The conserved ability of the Drosophila Runt protein to respond to the stimulating effect of mammalian PEBP2/CBFβ indicated that flies were likely to have a homologous β protein. Using the yeast two-hybrid system to isolate cDNAs for Runt-interacting proteins, we identified two Drosophila genes, referred to as Brother and Big-brother, that have substantial sequence homology with PEBP2/CBFβ. Yeast two-hybrid experiments as well as in vitro DNA-binding studies confirmed the functional homology of the Brother, Big- brother, and PEBP2/CBFβ proteins and demonstrated that the conserved regions of the Runt and Brother proteins are required for their heterodimeric interaction. The DNA-bending properties of Runt domain proteins in the presence and absence of their partners were also examined. Our results show that Runt domain proteins bend DNA and that this bending is influenced by Brother protein family members, supporting the idea that heterodimerization is associated with a conformational change in the Runt domain. Analysis of expression patterns in Drosophila embryos revealed that Brother and Big- brother are likely to interact with runt in vivo and further suggested that the activity of these proteins is not restricted to their interaction with Runt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)932-942
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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