ABSTRACT: Classical C2H2 zinc finger proteins are among the most abundant transcription factors found in eukaryotes, and the mechanisms through which they recognize their target genes have been extensively investigated. In general, a tandem array of three fingers separated by characteristic TGERP links is required for sequence-specific DNA recognition. Nevertheless, a significant number of zinc finger proteins do not contain a hallmark three-finger array of this type, raising the question of whether and how they contact DNA. We have examined the multi-finger protein ZNF217, which contains eight classical zinc fingers. ZNF217 is implicated as an oncogene and in repressing the E-cadherin gene. We show that two of its zinc fingers, 6 and 7, can mediate contacts with DNA. We examine its putative recognition site in the E-cadherin promoter and demonstrate that this is a suboptimal site. NMR analysis and mutagenesis is used to define the DNA binding surface of ZNF217, and we examine the specificity of the DNA binding activity using fluorescence anisotropy titrations. Finally, sequence analysis reveals that a variety of multi-finger proteins also contain two-finger units, and our data support the idea that these may constitute a distinct subclass of DNA recognition motif.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2011; 286(44):38190-201. · 4.77 Impact Factor