Myocardin is a SAP (SAF-A/B, Acinus, PIAS) domain transcription factor that associates with serum response factor (SRF) to potently enhance SRF-dependent transcription. Here we describe two myocardin-related transcription factors (MRTFs), A and B, that also interact with SRF and stimulate its transcriptional activity. Whereas myocardin is expressed specifically in cardiac and smooth muscle cells, MRTF-A and -B are expressed in numerous embryonic and adult tissues. In SRF-deficient embryonic stem cells, myocardin and MRTFs are unable to activate SRF-dependent reporter genes, confirming their dependence on SRF. Myocardin and MRTFs comprise a previously uncharacterized family of SRF cofactors with the potential to modulate SRF target genes in a wide range of tissues.
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