Nuclear hormone receptors (NRs) are ligand-dependent transcription factors that regulate target gene transcription. We report the molecular cloning and characterization of a novel human cDNA encoding TRAM-1, a thyroid hormone receptor activator molecule, a approximately 160-kDa protein homologous with SRC-1/TIF2, by far-Western-based expression screening. TRAM-1 binds to thyroid hormone receptor (TR) and other NRs in a ligand-dependent manner and enhances ligand-induced transcriptional activity of TR. The AF-2 region in NRs has been thought to play a critical role in mediating ligand-dependent transactivation by the interaction with coactivators. Surprisingly, TRAM-1 retains strong ligand-dependent interaction with an AF-2 mutant of TR (E457A), while SRC-1 fails to interact with this mutant. Furthermore, we identified a critical TRAM-1 binding site in rat TRbeta1 outside of AF-2, as TRAM-1 shows weak ligand-dependent interaction with a helix 3 ligand binding domain TR mutant (K288A), compared with SRC-1. These results suggest that TRAM-1 is a coactivator that may exhibit its activity by interacting with subdomains of NRs other than the AF-2 region, in contrast to SRC-1/TIF2.
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