Ikaros and Aiolos are Kruppel zinc finger proteins that play key roles in hemo-lymphoid development and homeostasis. We have previously shown that they can repress transcription through the recruitment of histone deacetylases (HDACs). Here, we provide the first functional evidence that these proteins can also repress gene function in a manner that does not require deacetylase activity. This functionality can be attributed in part to Ikaros interactions with the HDAC-independent corepressor, C-terminal binding protein (CtBP). However, mutations that block Ikaros-CtBP interactions do not abolish Ikaros's repression activity, implicating the involvement of additional corepressors. Consistent with this expectation, we show that Ikaros can interact with a CtBP-interacting protein (CtIP), which has also been linked to a deacetylase-independent strategy of repression. Despite being a CtBP interactor, CtIP's association with Ikaros does not require CtBP but instead relies upon its Rb interaction domain. Significantly, Ikaros can interact with Rb, which itself can repress gene function in a deacetylase-independent manner. A mutation in Ikaros that abrogates CtIP interactions significantly reduces repression, and a double mutation that prevents interaction with both CtIP and CtBP even further alleviates repression. Finally, we show that CtIP and CtBP can interact with the general transcription factors, TATA binding protein and transcription factor IIB, which suggests a possible mechanism for their deacetylase-independent mode of repression.
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