Necdin is a potent growth suppressor that is expressed predominantly in postmitotic cells such as neurons and skeletal muscle cells. Necdin shows a significant homology to MAGE (melanoma antigen) family proteins, all of which contain a large homology domain. MAGE-D1 (NRAGE, Dlxin-1) interacts with the Dlx/Msx family homeodomain proteins via an interspersed hexapeptide repeat domain distinct from the homology domain. Here we report that necdin associates with the Msx homeodomain proteins via MAGE-D1 to modulate their function. In vitro binding and co-immunoprecipitation analyses revealed that MAGE-D1 directly interacted with necdin via the homology domain and Msx1 (or Msx2) via the repeat domain. A ternary complex of necdin, MAGE-D1, and Msx2 was formed in vitro, and an endogenous complex containing these three proteins was detected in differentiating embryonal carcinoma cells. Co-expression of necdin and MAGE-D1 released Msx-dependent transcriptional repression. C2C12 myoblast cells that were stably transfected with Msx2 cDNA showed a marked reduction in myogenic differentiation, and co-expression of necdin and MAGE-D1 canceled the Msx2-dependent repression. These results suggest that necdin and MAGE-D1 cooperate to modulate the function of Dlx/Msx homeodomain proteins in cellular differentiation.
Copyright 2004 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.