TIF1 (transcriptional intermediary factor 1) proteins are encoded by an expanding family of developmental and physiological control genes that are conserved from flies to man. These proteins are characterized by an N-terminal RING-B box-coiled-coil (RBCC) motif and a C-terminal PHD finger/bromodomain unit, and have been implicated in epigenetic mechanisms of transcriptional repression involving histone modifiers and heterochromatin-binding proteins. We describe here the isolation and functional characterization of a fourth murine TIF1 gene, TIF1delta. The predicted TIF1delta protein displays all the structural hallmarks of a bona fide TIF1 family member and resembles the other TIF1s in that it can exert a deacetylase-dependent silencing effect when tethered to a promoter region. Moreover, like TIF1alpha and TIF1beta, TIF1delta can homodimerize and contains a PXVXL motif necessary and sufficient for HP1 (heterochromatin protein 1) binding. Although TIF1alpha and TIF1beta also bind nuclear receptors and Kruppel-associated boxes specifically and respectively, TIF1delta appears to lack nuclear receptor- and Kruppel-associated box binding activity. Furthermore, TIF1delta is unique among the TIF1 family proteins in that its expression is largely restricted to the testis and confined to haploid elongating spermatids, where it associates preferentially with HP1 isotype gamma (HP1gamma) and forms discrete foci dispersed within the centromeric chromocenter and the surrounding nucleoplasm. Collectively, these data are consistent with specific, nonredundant functions for the TIF1 family members in vivo and suggest a role for TIF1delta in heterochromatin-mediated gene silencing during postmeiotic phases of spermatogenesis.
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