In this article we describe the molecular cloning of Pirin, a novel highly conserved 32-kDa protein consisting of 290 amino acids. Pirin was isolated by a yeast two-hybrid screen as an interactor of nuclear factor I/CCAAT box transcription factor (NFI/CTF1), which is known to stimulate adenovirus DNA replication and RNA polymerase II-driven transcription. Pirin mRNA is expressed weakly in all human tissues tested. About 15% of all Pirin cDNAs contain a short 34-base pair insertion in their 5'-untranslated regions, indicative of alternative splicing processes. Multiple Pirin transcripts are expressed in skeletal muscle and heart. Western blots and immunoprecipitations employing monoclonal anti-Pirin antibodies reveal that Pirin is a nuclear protein. Moreover, confocal immunofluorescence experiments demonstrate a predominant localization of Pirin within dot-like subnuclear structures. Homology searches using the BLAST algorithm indicate the existence of Pirin homologues in mouse and rat. The N-terminal half of Pirin is significantly conserved between mammals, plants, fungi, and even prokaryotic organisms. Genomic Southern and Western blots demonstrate the presence of Pirin genes and their expression, respectively, in all mammalian cell lines tested. The expression pattern, the concentrated localization in subnuclear structures, and its interaction with NFI/CTF1 in the two-hybrid system classify Pirin as a putative NFI/CTF1 cofactor, which might help to gain new insights in NFI/CTF1 functions.
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