Zinc-finger protein-targeted gene regulation: genomewide single-gene specificity

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Oct 14;100(21):11997-2002. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2035056100. Epub 2003 Sep 26.


Zinc-finger protein transcription factors (ZFP TFs) can be designed to control the expression of any desired target gene, and thus provide potential therapeutic tools for the study and treatment of disease. Here we report that a ZFP TF can repress target gene expression with single-gene specificity within the human genome. A ZFP TF repressor that binds an 18-bp recognition sequence within the promoter of the endogenous CHK2 gene gives a >10-fold reduction in CHK2 mRNA and protein. This level of repression was sufficient to generate a functional phenotype, as demonstrated by the loss of DNA damage-induced CHK2-dependent p53 phosphorylation. We determined the specificity of repression by using DNA microarrays and found that the ZFP TF repressed a single gene (CHK2) within the monitored genome in two different cell types. These data demonstrate the utility of ZFP TFs as precise tools for target validation, and highlight their potential as clinical therapeutics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Checkpoint Kinase 2
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Engineering
  • Protein Kinases / genetics*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Zinc Fingers / genetics*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • DNA
  • Protein Kinases
  • Checkpoint Kinase 2
  • CHEK2 protein, human
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases