Groucho/TLE family proteins and transcriptional repression

Gene. 2000 May 16;249(1-2):1-16. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1119(00)00161-x.


The Drosophila Groucho (Gro) protein is the prototype for a large family of corepressors, examples of which are found in most metazoans. This family includes the human transducin-like Enhancer of split (TLE) proteins. As corepressors, Gro/TLE family proteins do not bind to DNA directly, but rather are recruited to the template by DNA-bound repressor proteins. Gro/TLE family proteins are required for many developmental processes, including lateral inhibition, segmentation, sex determination, dorsal/ventral pattern formation, terminal pattern formation, and eye development. These proteins are characterized by a conserved N-terminal glutamine-rich domain and a conserved C-terminal WD-repeat domain. The primary role of the glutamine-rich domain is apparently to mediate tetramerization, while the WD-repeat domain may mediate interactions with DNA-bound repressors. The glutamine rich and WD-repeat domains are separated by a less conserved region containing domains that have been implicated in transcriptional repression and nuclear localization. In addition to encoding full-length Gro/TLE family proteins, most metazoan genomes encode truncated family members that contain the N-terminal oligomerization domain, but lack the C-terminal WD-repeat domain. These truncated proteins may negatively regulate full-length Gro/TLE proteins, perhaps by sequestering them in non-productive complexes. Gro/TLE family proteins probably repress transcription by multiple mechanisms. For example, a glycine/proline-rich domain in the central variable region functions to recruit the histone deacetylase Rpd3 to the template. This histone deacetylase then presumably silences transcription by altering local chromatin structure. Other repression domains in Gro may function in a histone deacetylase-independent manner. Many aspects of Gro/TLE protein function remain to be explored, including the possible post-translational regulation of Gro/TLE activity as well as the mechanisms by which Gro/TLE proteins direct repression at a distance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • gro protein, Drosophila