LIM domains are required for both inhibitory effects on LIM homeodomain transcription factors and synergistic transcriptional activation events. The inhibitory actions of the LIM domain can often be overcome by the LIM co-regulator known as CLIM2, LDB1 and NLI (referred to hereafter as CLIM2; refs 2-4). The association of the CLIM cofactors with LIM domains does not, however, improve the DNA-binding ability of LIM homeodomain proteins, suggesting the action of a LIM-associated inhibitor factor. Here we present evidence that LIM domains are capable of binding a novel RING-H2 zinc-finger protein, Rlim (for RING finger LIM domain-binding protein), which acts as a negative co-regulator via the recruitment of the Sin3A/histone deacetylase corepressor complex. A corepressor function of RLIM is also suggested by in vivo studies of chick wing development. Overexpression of the gene Rnf12, encoding Rlim, results in phenotypes similar to those observed after inhibition of the LIM homeodomain factor LHX2, which is required for the formation of distal structures along the proximodistal axis, or by overexpression of dominant-negative CLIM1. We conclude that Rlim is a novel corepressor that recruits histone deacetylase-containing complexes to the LIM domain.
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