The HNF3/fork head family includes a large number of transcription factors that share a structurally related DNA binding domain. Fork head factors have been shown to play important roles both during development and in the adult. We now describe the cloning of a novel mammalian fork head factor that we have named FHX (fork head homologous X (FHX), which is expressed in many adult tissues. In the embryo, FHX expression showed a very early onset during the cleavage stages of preimplantation development. Polymerase chain reaction-assisted site selection experiments showed that FHX bound DNA with a dual sequence specificity. Sites recognized by FHX could be classified into two different types according to their sequences. Binding of FHX to sequences of each type appeared to occur independently. Our data suggest that either different regions of the fork head domain or different molecular forms of this domain could be involved in binding of FHX to each type of site. In transfection assays, FHX was capable of activating transcription from promoters containing FHX sites of either type.
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