A conserved acidic patch in the Myb domain is required for activation of an endogenous target gene and for chromatin binding
Departments of Pathology and Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5324, USA
Molecular Cancer 2008, 7:77 doi:10.1186/1476-4598-7-77Published: 7 October 2008
The c-Myb protein is a transcriptional regulator initially identified by homology to the v-Myb oncoprotein, and has since been implicated in human cancer. The most highly conserved portion of the c-Myb protein is the DNA-binding domain which consists of three imperfect repeats. Many other proteins contain one or more Myb-related domains, including a number of proteins that do not bind directly to DNA. We performed a phylogenetic analysis of diverse classes of Myb-related domains and discovered a highly conserved patch of acidic residues common to all Myb-related domains. These acidic residues are positioned in the first of three alpha-helices within each of the three repeats that comprise the c-Myb DNA-binding domain. Interestingly, these conserved acidic residues are present on a surface of the protein which is distinct from that which binds to DNA. Alanine mutagenesis revealed that the acidic patch of the third c-Myb repeat is essential for transcriptional activity, but neither for nuclear localization nor DNA-binding. Instead, these acidic residues are required for efficient chromatin binding and interaction with the histone H4 N-terminal tail.