Characterization of the DNA-binding properties of the Mohawk homeobox transcription factor

Douglas M. Anderson, Rajani George, Marcus B. Noyes, Megan Rowton, Wenjin Liu, Rulang Jiang, Scot A. Wolfe, Jeanne Wilson-Rawls, Alan Rawls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The homeobox transcription factor Mohawk (Mkx) is a potent transcriptional repressor expressed in the embryonic precursors of skeletal muscle, cartilage, and bone. MKX has recently been shown to be a critical regulator of musculoskeletal tissue differentiation and gene expression; however, the genetic pathways through which MKX functions and its DNA-binding properties are currently unknown. Using a modified bacterial one-hybrid site selection assay, we determined the core DNA-recognition motif of the mouse monomeric Mkx homeodomain to be A-C-A. Using cell-based assays, we have identified a minimal Mkx-responsive element (MRE) located within the Mkx promoter, which is composed of a highly conserved inverted repeat of the core Mkx recognition motif. Using the minimal MRE sequence, we have further identified conserved MREs within the locus of Sox6, a transcription factor that represses slow fiber gene expression during skeletal muscle differentiation. Real-time PCR and immunostaining of in vitro differentiated muscle satellite cells isolated from Mkx-null mice revealed an increase in the expression of Sox6 and down-regulation of slow fiber structural genes. Together, these data identify the unique DNA-recognition properties of MKX and reveal a novel role for Mkx in promoting slow fiber type specification during skeletal muscle differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35351-35359
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 12 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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