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A general method to design dominant negatives to B-HLHZip proteins that abolish DNA binding

  • Dmitry Krylov
  • Kenji Kasai
  • Deborah R. Echlin
  • Elizabeth J. Taparowsky
  • Heinz Arnheiter
  • Charles Vinson
The National Academy of Sciences of the USA
Publication Date
Nov 11, 1997
  • Biology
  • Design


We describe a method to design dominant-negative proteins (D-N) to the basic helix–loop–helix–leucine zipper (B-HLHZip) family of sequence-specific DNA binding transcription factors. The D-Ns specifically heterodimerize with the B-HLHZip dimerization domain of the transcription factors and abolish DNA binding in an equimolar competition. Thermal denaturation studies indicate that a heterodimer between a Myc B-HLHZip domain and a D-N consisting of a 12-amino acid sequence appended onto the Max dimerization domain (A-Max) is −6.3 kcal⋅mol−1 more stable than the Myc:Max heterodimer. One molar equivalent of A-Max can totally abolish the DNA binding activity of a Myc:Max heterodimer. This acidic extension also has been appended onto the dimerization domain of the B-HLHZip protein Mitf, a member of the transcription factor enhancer binding subfamily, to produce A-Mitf. The heterodimer between A-Mitf and the B-HLHZip domain of Mitf is −3.7 kcal⋅mol−1 more stable than the Mitf homodimer. Cell culture studies show that A-Mitf can inhibit Mitf-dependent transactivation both in acidic extension and in a dimerization-dependent manner. A-Max can inhibit Myc-dependent foci formation twice as well as the Max dimerization domain (HLHZip). This strategy of producing D-Ns may be applicable to other B-HLHZip or B-HLH proteins because it provides a method to inhibit the DNA binding of these transcription factors in a dimerization-specific manner.

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