Mouse DFA is a repressor of TATA-box promoters and interacts with the Abt1 activator of basal transcription
Our study of the mouse Ate1 arginyltransferase, a component of the N-end rule pathway, has shown that Ate1 pre-mRNA is produced from a bidirectional promoter that also expresses, in the opposite direction, a previously uncharacterized gene (Hu, R. G., Brower, C. S., Wang, H., Davydov, I. V., Sheng, J., Zhou, J., Kwon, Y. T., and Varshavsky, A. (2006) J. Biol. Chem. 281, 32559–32573). In this work, we began analyzing this gene, termed Dfa (divergent from Ate1). Mouse Dfa was found to be transcribed from both the bidirectional PAte1/Dfa promoter and other nearby promoters. The resulting transcripts are alternatively spliced, yielding a complex set of Dfa mRNAs that are present largely, although not exclusively, in the testis. A specific Dfa mRNA encodes, via its 3′-terminal exon, a 217-residue protein termed DfaA. Other Dfa mRNAs also contain this exon. DfaA is sequelogous (similar in sequence) to a region of the human/mouse HTEX4 protein, whose physiological function is unknown. We produced an affinity-purified antibody to recombinant mouse DfaA that detected a 35-kDa protein in the mouse testis and in several cell lines. Experiments in which RNA interference was used to down-regulate Dfa indicated that the 35-kDa protein was indeed DfaA. Furthermore, DfaA was present in the interchromatin granule clusters and was also found to bind to the Ggnbp1 gametogenetin-binding protein-1 and to the Abt1 activator of basal transcription that interacts with the TATA-binding protein. Given these results, RNA interference was used to probe the influence of Dfa levels in luciferase reporter assays. We found that DfaA acts as a repressor of TATA-box transcriptional promoters.