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Keywords:

  • Mohawk;
  • Mkx;
  • Iroquois;
  • Irx;
  • Sin3A;
  • HDAC;
  • Sap18;
  • Tbp;
  • repressor;
  • MRD;
  • myogenesis

Abstract

Mohawk is an atypical homeobox gene expressed in embryonic progenitor cells of skeletal muscle, tendon, and cartilage. We demonstrate that Mohawk functions as a transcriptional repressor capable of blocking the myogenic conversion of 10T1/2 fibroblasts. The repressor activity is located in three small, evolutionarily conserved domains (MRD1–3) in the carboxy-terminal half of the protein. Point mutation analysis revealed six residues in MRD1 are sufficient for repressor function. The carboxy-terminal half of Mohawk is able to recruit components of the Sin3A/HDAC co-repressor complex (Sin3A, Hdac1, and Sap18) and a subset of Polymerase II general transcription factors (Tbp, TFIIA1 and TFIIB). Furthermore, Sap18, a protein that bridges the Sin3A/HDAC complex to DNA-bound transcription factors, is co-immunoprecipitated by MRD1. These data predict that Mohawk can repress transcription through recruitment of the Sin3A/HDAC co-repressor complex, and as a result, repress target genes required for the differentiation of cells to the myogenic lineage. Developmental Dynamics 238:572–580, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.