The Hairy-related bHLH proteins function as transcriptional repressors in most cases and play important roles in diverse aspects of metazoan development. Recently, it was shown that the Drosophila bHLH repressor proteins, Hairy and Deadpan, bind to and function with the NAD(+)-dependent histone deacetylase, Sir2. Here we demonstrate that the human Sir2 homologue, SIRT1, also physically associates with the human bHLH repressor proteins, hHES1 and hHEY2, both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, using the reporter assay, we show that both SIRT1-dependent and -independent deacetylase pathways are involved in the transcriptional repressions mediated by these bHLH repressors. These results indicate that the molecular association between bHLH proteins and Sir2-related proteins is conserved among metazoans, from Drosophila to human, and suggest that the Sir2-bHLH interaction also plays important roles in human cells.
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