The microphthalmia-TFE (MiT) subfamily of basic helix-loop-helix leucine zipper (bHLH-ZIP) transcription factors, including TFE3, TFEB, TFEC, and Mitf, has been implicated in the regulation of tissue-specific gene expression in several cell lineages. In this report, we investigate the genomic organization and structural relatedness of MiT transcription factors. We characterized the gene for mTFEC, which covers a region of more than 50 kb and is composed of seven exons. Further, we cloned a cDNA for the murine TFEB homologue and characterized its genomic structure. The eight coding exons of mTFEB are distributed over a 6-kb region. A multiple alignment of amino acid sequences of known MiT subfamily members indicates undescribed, conserved N-terminal regions and common putative phosphorylation sites for TFE3, TFEB, and Mitf. Also, intron-exon borders for characterized MiT genes appear completely conserved. A new family member and closely related putative transcription factor in Caenorhabditis elegans was identified by database searches that show a similar genomic organization within the bHLH-ZIP region and the acidic domain. Evolutionary aspects and implications for structure-function relationships are discussed.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.