The EH1 motif in metazoan transcription factors

Copley, Richard R
January 2005
BMC Genomics;2005, Vol. 6, p169
Academic Journal
Background: The Engrailed Homology 1 (EH1) motif is a small region, believed to have evolved convergently in homeobox and forkhead containing proteins, that interacts with the Drosophila protein groucho (C. elegans unc-37, Human Transducin-like Enhancers of Split). The small size of the motif makes its reliable identification by computational means difficult. I have systematically searched the predicted proteomes of Drosophila, C. elegans and human for further instances of the motif. Results: Using motif identification methods and database searching techniques, I delimit which homeobox and forkhead domain containing proteins also have likely EH1 motifs. I show that despite low database search scores, there is a significant association of the motif with transcription factor function. I further show that likely EH1 motifs are found in combination with T-Box, Zinc Finger and Doublesex domains as well as discussing other plausible candidate associations. I identify strong candidate EH1 motifs in basal metazoan phyla. Conclusion: Candidate EH1 motifs exist in combination with a variety of transcription factor domains, suggesting that these proteins have repressor functions. The distribution of the EH1 motif is suggestive of convergent evolution, although in many cases, the motif has been conserved throughout bilaterian orthologs. Groucho mediated repression was established prior to the evolution of bilateria.


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