The SLTM [SAF (scaffold attachment factor)-like transcription modulator] protein contains a SAF-box DNA-binding motif and an RNA-binding domain, and shares an overall identity of 34% with SAFB1 {scaffold attachment factor-B1; also known as SAF-B (scaffold attachment factor B), HET [heat-shock protein 27 ERE (oestrogen response element) and TATA-box-binding protein] or HAP (heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1-interacting protein)}. Here, we show that SLTM is localized to the cell nucleus, but excluded from nucleoli, and to a large extent it co-localizes with SAFB1. In the nucleus, SLTM has a punctate distribution and it does not co-localize with SR (serine/arginine) proteins. Overexpression of SAFB1 has been shown to exert a number of inhibitory effects, including suppression of oestrogen signalling. Although SLTM also suppressed the ability of oestrogen to activate a reporter gene in MCF-7 breast-cancer cells, inhibition of a constitutively active β-galactosidase gene suggested that this was primarily the consequence of a generalized inhibitory effect on transcription. Measurement of RNA synthesis, which showed a particularly marked inhibition of [3H]uridine incorporation into mRNA, supported this conclusion. In addition, analysis of cell-cycle parameters, chromatin condensation and cytochrome c release showed that SLTM induced apoptosis in a range of cultured cell lines. Thus the inhibitory effects of SLTM on gene expression appear to result from generalized down-regulation of mRNA synthesis and initiation of apoptosis consequent upon overexpressing the protein. While indicating a crucial role for SLTM in cellular function, these results also emphasize the need for caution when interpreting phenotypic changes associated with manipulation of protein expression levels.

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