MAGE-A1 belongs to a family of 12 genes that are active in various types of tumors and silent in normal tissues except in male germ-line cells. The MAGE-encoded antigens recognized by T cells are highly tumor-specific targets for T cell-oriented cancer immunotherapy. The function of MAGE-A1 is currently unknown. To analyze it, we attempted to identify protein partners of MAGE-A1. Using yeast two-hybrid screening, we detected an interaction between MAGE-A1 and Ski Interacting Protein (SKIP). SKIP is a transcriptional regulator that connects DNA-binding proteins to proteins that either activate or repress transcription. We show that MAGE-A1 inhibits the activity of a SKIP-interacting transactivator, namely the intracellular part of Notch1. Deletion analysis indicated that this inhibition requires the binding of MAGE-A1 to SKIP. Moreover, MAGE-A1 was found to actively repress transcription by binding and recruiting histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1). Our results indicate that by binding to SKIP and by recruiting HDACs, MAGE-A1 can act as a potent transcriptional repressor. MAGE-A1 could therefore participate in the setting of specific gene expression patterns for tumor cell growth or spermatogenesis.
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