Structural Insights into the DNA-Binding Mechanism of BCL11A: The Integral Role of ZnF6.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


bioRxiv (2024)


<p>The transcription factor BCL11A is a critical regulator of the switch from fetal hemoglobin (HbF: α γ ) to adult hemoglobin (HbA: α β ) during development. BCL11A binds at a cognate recognition site (TGACCA) in the γ-globin gene promoter and represses its expression. DNA-binding is mediated by a triple zinc finger domain, designated ZnF456. Here, we report comprehensive investigation of ZnF456, leveraging X-ray crystallography and NMR to determine the structures in both the presence and absence of DNA. We delve into the dynamics and mode of interaction with DNA. Moreover, we discovered that the last zinc finger of BCL11A (ZnF6) plays a special role in DNA binding and γ-globin gene repression. Our findings help account for some rare γ-globin gene promoter mutations that perturb BCL11A binding and lead to increased HbF in adults (hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin). Comprehending the DNA binding mechanism of BCL11A opens avenues for the strategic, structure-based design of novel therapeutics targeting sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia.</p>

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