Human regulatory factor X 4 (RFX4) is a testis-specific dimeric DNA-binding protein that cooperates with other human RFX members.
Regulatory factor X (RFX) members are evolutionarily conserved transcription factors that share a highly conserved winged helix DNA-binding domain. Human RFX4 has been isolated from breast cancer as a partial cDNA encoding a short RFX-type DNA-binding domain fused to the estrogen receptor, but the entire structure of RFX4 has been unknown. Here, we report the molecular cloning and characterization of human RFX4. RFX4 contains evolutionarily conserved regions, including a RFX-type DNA-binding domain, a dimerization domain, and other conserved regions, and is closely related to RFX1, RFX2, and RFX3 in structure. The expression of RFX4 is restricted to testis. In vitro synthesized RFX4 protein bound to typical RFX binding sites in a sequence-dependent manner. Immunoprecipitation analyses showed that RFX4 interacts physically with RFX2, RFX3, and RFX4 itself but not with RFX1. In contrast to other mammalian RFX members that form dimers, RFX4 is revealed to have no distinct transcriptional activation domains. By using a chimeric protein of RFX1 and RFX4, the C-terminal domain of RFX4 was shown to be a possible transcriptional repression domain. Taken together, these results indicate that RFX4 is the first mammalian member of RFX family without transcriptional activation capacity and might function through selective interactions with other RFX members in transcriptional regulation.