Small Maf proteins (MafF, MafG, MafK): History, structure and function.
ABSTRACT: The small Maf proteins (sMafs) are basic region leucine zipper (bZIP)-type transcription factors. The basic region of the Maf family is unique among the bZIP factors, and it contributes to the distinct DNA-binding mode of this class of proteins. MafF, MafG and MafK are the three vertebrate sMafs, and no functional differences have been observed among them in terms of their bZIP structures. sMafs form homodimers by themselves, and they form heterodimers with cap 'n' collar (CNC) proteins (p45 NF-E2, Nrf1, Nrf2, and Nrf3) and also with Bach proteins (Bach1 and Bach2). Because CNC and Bach proteins cannot bind to DNA as monomers, sMafs are indispensable partners that are required by CNC and Bach proteins to exert their functions. sMafs lack the transcriptional activation domain; hence, their homodimers act as transcriptional repressors. In contrast, sMafs participate in transcriptional activation or repression depending on their heterodimeric partner molecules and context. Mouse genetic analyses have revealed that various biological pathways are under the regulation of CNC-sMaf heterodimers. In this review, we summarize the history and current progress of sMaf studies in relation to their partners.
Project description:A group of cytoprotective genes is regulated by heterodimers composed of the cap'n'collar (CNC) family member Nrf2 and one of the small Maf (sMaf) proteins (MafF, MafG, or MafK) through the antioxidant response element (ARE, also referred to as the CNC-sMaf binding element [CsMBE]). Many lines of evidence support this model; however, a direct and specific evaluation of the Nrf2-sMaf heterodimer remains to be executed. To address this issue, we constructed a tethered Nrf2-MafG (T-N2G) heterodimer using a flexible linker peptide. We then introduced the T-N2G construct into cells lacking all three sMaf proteins to specifically evaluate the function of the tethered heterodimer without interference from other endogenous CNC-sMaf heterodimers or sMaf homodimers. In response to an Nrf2 activator, diethyl maleate, the T-N2G protein can widely activate the target genes of Nrf2 but not those of Nrf1, such as proteasome subunit genes. Genome-wide binding analysis showed that the T-N2G protein preferentially bound to the CsMBE motifs in the regulatory regions of the Nrf2 target genes. These results provide direct evidence that the Nrf2-MafG heterodimer acts as a transcriptional activator of Nrf2-dependent genes and show that this assay system will be a powerful tool to specifically examine the function of other CNC-sMaf heterodimers.
Project description:Members of the small Maf family (MafK, MafF, and MafG) are basic region leucine zipper (bZip) proteins that can function as transcriptional activators or repressors. The dimer compositions of their DNA binding forms determine whether the small Maf family proteins activate or repress transcription. Using a yeast two-hybrid screen with a GAL4-MafK fusion protein, we have identified two novel bZip transcription factors, Bach1 and Bach2, as heterodimerization partners of MafK. In addition to a Cap'n'collar-type bZip domain, these Bach proteins possess a BTB domain which is a protein interaction motif; Bach1 and Bach2 show significant similarity to each other in these regions but are otherwise divergent. Whereas expression of Bach1 appears ubiquitous, that of Bach2 is restricted to monocytes and neuronal cells. Bach proteins bind in vitro to NF-E2 binding sites, recognition elements for the hematopoietic transcription factor NF-E2, by forming heterodimers with MafK. Furthermore, a DNA binding complex that contained MafK as well as Bach2 or a protein related closely to Bach2 was found to be present in mouse brain cells. Bach1 and Bach2 function as transcription repressors in transfection assays using fibroblast cells, but they function as a transcriptional activator and repressor, respectively, in cultured erythroid cells. The results suggest that members of the Bach family play important roles in coordinating transcription activation and repression by MafK.
Project description:The maf oncogene encodes a bZip nuclear protein which recognizes sequences related to an AP-1 site either as a homodimer or as heterodimers with Fos and Jun. We describe here a novel maf-related gene, mafG, which shows extensive homology with two other maf-related genes, mafK and mafF. These three maf-related genes encode small basic-leucine zipper proteins lacking the trans-activator domain of v-Maf. Bacterially expressed small Maf proteins bind to DNA as homodimers with a sequence recognition profile that is virtually identical to that of v-Maf. As we have previously described, the three small Maf proteins also dimerize with the large subunit of NF-E2 (p45) to form an erythroid cell-specific transcription factor, NF-E2, which has distinct DNA-binding specificity. This study shows that the small Maf proteins can also dimerize among themselves and with Fos and a newly identified p45-related molecule (Ech) but not with v-Maf or Jun. Although the small Maf proteins preferentially recognize the consensus NF-E2 sequence as heterodimers with either NF-E2 p45, Ech, or Fos, these heterodimers seemed to be different in their transactivation potentials. Coexpression of Fos and small Mafs could not activate a promoter with tandem repeats of the NF-E2 site. These results raise the possibility that tissue-specific gene expression and differentiation of erythroid cells are regulated by competition among Fos, NF-E2 p45, and Ech for small Maf proteins and for binding sites.
Project description:The cap'n'collar (CNC) family serves as cellular sensors of oxidative and electrophilic stresses and shares structural similarities including basic leucine zipper (bZIP) and CNC domains. They form heterodimers with small MAF proteins to regulate antioxidant and phase II enzymes through antioxidant response element (ARE)-mediated transactivation. Among the CNC family members, NRF2 is required for systemic protection against redox-mediated injury and carcinogenesis. On the other hand, NRF2 is activated by oncogenic pathways, metabolism, and hypoxia. Constitutive NRF2 activation is observed in a variety of human cancers and it is highly correlated with tumor progression and aggressiveness. In this review, we will discuss how NRF2 plays dual roles in cancer prevention and progression depending on the cellular context and environment. Therefore, a better understanding of NRF2 will be necessary to exploit this complex network of balancing antioxidant pathways to inhibit tumor progression.
Project description:The basic-region leucine zipper (BR-LZ or bZIP) transcription factors dimerize via their LZ domains to position the adjacent BRs for DNA binding. Members of the C/EBP, AP-1 and CREB/ATF bZIP subfamilies form homodimeric or heterodimeric complexes with other members of the same subset and bind-specific DNA motifs. Here we demonstrate that C/EBPalpha also zippers with AP-1 proteins and that this interaction allows contact with novel DNA elements and induction of monocyte lineage commitment in myeloid progenitors. A leucine zipper swap:gel shift assay demonstrates that C/EBPalpha zippers with c-Jun, JunB or c-Fos, but not with c-Maf or MafB. To evaluate activities of specific homodimers or heterodimers we utilized LZs with acid (LZE) or basic (LZK) residues in their salt bridge positions. C/EBPalphaLZE:C/EBPalphaLZK preferentially binds a C/EBP site, c-JunLZE:c-FosLZK an AP-1 site and C/EBPalphaLZE:c-JunLZK a hybrid element identified as TTGCGTCAT by oligonucleotide selection. In murine myeloid progenitors, C/EBPalpha:c-Jun or C/EBPalpha:c-Fos LZE:LZK heterodimers induce monocyte lineage commitment with markedly increased potency compared with C/EBPalpha or c-Jun homodimers or c-Jun:c-Fos heterodimers, demonstrating a positive functional consequence of C/EBP:AP-1 bZIP subfamily interaction. C/EBPalpha:cJun binds and activates the endogenous PU.1 promoter, providing one mechanism for induction of monopoiesis by this complex.
Project description:We have identified a new member of the maf oncogene family and named it mafB. This gene is expressed in a wide variety of tissues and encodes a protein of 311 amino acids containing a typical bZip motif in its carboxy-terminal region. In the bZip domain, MafB shares extensive homology not only with v-Maf but also with other Maf-related proteins. As expected from its structure, MafB forms a homodimer through its leucine repeat structure and specifically binds Maf-recognition elements (MAREs). In addition, MafB forms heterodimers with v-Maf and Fos through its zipper structure. However, unlike v-Maf, MafB fails to associate with Jun. Transient cotransfection assays revealed that both v-Maf and MafB act as transactivators for a promoter linked to MAREs, although MafB is less potent than v-Maf. As is the case for the c-maf gene, overexpression of the mafB gene induces transformation of chicken embryo fibroblasts in vitro. Through formation of numerous bZip dimers, the Maf family proteins along with the AP-1 components should provide great diversity in transcriptional regulation for a wide variety of genes.
Project description:Maf transcription factors constitute a family of the basic region-leucine zipper (bZip) factors and recognize unusually long DNA motifs (13 or 14 bp), termed the Maf recognition element (MARE). The MARE harbors extended GC sequences on each side of its core motif, which is similar to TRE or CRE (7 or 8 bp) recognized by the AP1 and CREB/ATF families, respectively. To ascertain the structural basis governing the acquirement of such unique DNA recognition, we determined the crystal structure of the MafG-DNA complex. Each MafG monomer consists of three helices in which the carboxyl-terminal long helix organizes one DNA-contacting element and one coiled-coil dimer formation element. To our surprise, two well-conserved residues, Arg57 and Asn61 in the basic region, play critical roles in Maf-specific DNA recognition. These two residues show unique side-chain orientations and interact directly with the extended GC bases. Maf-specific residues in the amino-terminal and basic regions appear to indirectly stabilize MARE recognition through DNA backbone phosphate interactions. This study revealed an alternative DNA recognition mechanism of the bZip factors that bestows specific target gene profiles upon Maf homodimers or Maf-containing heterodimers.
Project description:NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a key transcription factor that is critical for cellular defense against oxidative and xenobiotic insults. Nrf2 heterodimerizes with small Maf (sMaf) proteins and binds to antioxidant response elements (AREs) to activate a battery of cytoprotective genes. However, it remains unclear to what extent the Nrf2-sMaf heterodimers contribute to ARE-dependent gene regulation on a genome-wide scale. We performed chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with high-throughput sequencing and identified the binding sites of Nrf2 and MafG throughout the genome. Compared to sites occupied by Nrf2 alone, many sites co-occupied by Nrf2 and MafG exhibit high enrichment and are located in species-conserved genomic regions. The ARE motifs were significantly enriched among the recovered Nrf2-MafG-binding sites but not among the Nrf2-binding sites that did not display MafG binding. The majority of the Nrf2-regulated cytoprotective genes were found in the vicinity of Nrf2-MafG-binding sites. Additionally, sequences that regulate glucose metabolism and several amino acid transporters were identified as Nrf2-MafG target genes, suggesting diverse roles for the Nrf2-MafG heterodimer in stress response. These data clearly support the notion that Nrf2-sMaf heterodimers are complexes that regulate batteries of genes involved in various aspects of cytoprotective and metabolic functions through associated AREs.
Project description:Normal growth and development, as well as adaptive responses to various intracellular and environmental stresses, are tightly controlled by transcriptional networks. The evolutionarily conserved genomic sequences across species highlights the architecture of such certain regulatory elements. Among them, one of the most conserved transcription factors is the basic-region leucine zipper (bZIP) family. Herein, we have performed phylogenetic analysis of these bZIP proteins and found, to our surprise, that there exist a few homologous proteins of the family members Jun, Fos, ATF2, BATF, C/EBP and CNC (cap'n'collar) in either viruses or bacteria, albeit expansion and diversification of this bZIP superfamily have occurred in vertebrates from metazoan. Interestingly, a specific group of bZIP proteins is identified, designated Nach (Nrf and CNC homology), because of their strong conservation with all the known CNC and NF-E2 p45 subunit-related factors Nrf1 and Nrf2. Further experimental evidence has also been provided, revealing that Nach1 and Nach2 from the marine bacteria exert distinctive functions, when compared with human Nrf1 and Nrf2, in the transcriptional regulation of antioxidant response element (ARE)-battery genes. Collectively, further insights into these Nach/CNC-bZIP subfamily transcription factors provide a novel better understanding of distinct biological functions of these factors expressed in distinct species from the marine bacteria to humans.
Project description:Embryogenesis is a period during which cells are exposed to dynamic changes of various intracellular and extracellular stresses. Oxidative stress response genes are regulated by heterodimers composed of Cap'n'Collar (CNC) and small Maf proteins (small Mafs) that bind to antioxidant response elements (ARE). Whereas CNC factors have been shown to contribute to the expression of ARE-dependent cytoprotective genes during embryogenesis, the specific contribution of small Maf proteins to such gene regulation remains to be fully examined. To delineate the small Maf function in vivo, in this study we examined mice lacking all three small Mafs (MafF, MafG, and MafK). The small Maf triple-knockout mice developed normally until embryonic day 9.5 (E9.5). Thereafter, however, the triple-knockout embryos showed severe growth retardation and liver hypoplasia, and the embryos died around E13.5. ARE-dependent cytoprotective genes were expressed normally in E10.5 triple-knockout embryos, but the expression was significantly reduced in the livers of E13.5 mutant embryos. Importantly, the embryonic lethality could be completely rescued by transgenic expression of exogenous MafG under MafG gene regulatory control. These results thus demonstrate that small Maf proteins are indispensable for embryonic development after E9.5, especially for liver development, but early embryonic development does not require small Mafs.