We have identified a novel zinc-finger protein whose mRNA is expressed at high levels in the epidermal layer of the skin and in epithelial cells in the tongue, palate, esophagus, stomach, and colon of newborn mice. Expression in epithelial cells is first detected at the time of their differentiation during embryonic development. In addition, during early embryonic development there is expression in mesenchymal cells of the skeletal primordia and the metanephric kidney which is later down-regulated. The expression pattern suggests that the protein could be involved in terminal differentiation of several epithelial cell types and could also be involved in early differentiation of the skeleton and kidney. The carboxyl terminus of the protein contains three zinc fingers with a high degree of homology to erythroid kruppel-like factor and binds to DNA fragments containing CACCC motifs. The amino-terminal portion of the protein is proline and serine-rich and can function as a transcriptional activator. The chromosomal location of the gene was mapped using mouse interspecific backcrosses and was shown to localize to mouse chromosome 4 and to cosegregate with the thioredoxin gene.
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