Mutations in the MEN1 gene lead to an autosomal dominant disorder, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), which is characterized by tumors of the parathyroid, entero-pancreatic neuroendocrine, and pituitary tissues. The protein encoded by MEN1, 610-amino acid menin, resides primarily in the nucleus and binds to the transcription factor JunD, resulting in the repression of JunD-induced transcription. We report here a detailed characterization of the zebrafish men1 gene and its full-length (2551 nt) transcript, encoding a 617-amino acid protein with 67% identity and 80% similarity to human menin. Of the 81 missense mutations and in-frame deletions reported in MEN1 patients, 72 occur in residues that are identical in zebrafish, suggesting the importance of the conserved regions. The zebrafish men1 gene maps 61 cM from the top of linkage group 7 (LG7), a region that appears to show conserved synteny to the MEN1 loci at human 11q13. A 2.7-kb men1 message is detected at all stages of zebrafish development analyzed, from one-cell embryos to adult fish. Whole-mount in situ hybridization showed ubiquitous distribution of men1 message in zebrafish embryos at cleavage, blastula, gastrula, and early segmentation stages, with relatively abundant expression in blood cell progenitors (24 h post fertilization) and mesenchymal tissues (48 h post fertilization) at later stages. Zebrafish menin binds both human and mouse JunD, and represses JunD-induced transcription, indicating that the JunD-binding ability of menin is evolutionarily conserved.
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