Octamer-binding transcription factors: genomics and functions
The Octamer-binding proteins (Oct) are a group of highly conserved transcription factors that specifically bind to the octamer motif (ATGCAAAT) and closely related sequences in promoters and enhancers of a wide variety of genes. Oct factors belong to the larger family of POU domain factors that are characterized by the presence of an amino-terminal specific subdomain (POUS) and a carboxyl-terminal homeo-subdomain (POUH). Eleven Oct proteins have been named (Oct1-11), and currently, eight genes encoding Oct proteins (Oct1, Oct2, Oct3/4, Oct6, Oct7, Oct8, Oct9, and Oct11) have been cloned. Oct1 and Oct2 are widely expressed in adult tissues, while other Oct proteins are much more restricted in their expression patterns. Oct proteins are implicated in crucial and versatile biological events, such as embryogenesis, neurogenesis, immunity, and body glucose and amino acid metabolism. The aberrant expression and null function of Oct proteins have also been linked to various diseases, including deafness, diabetes and cancer. In this review, I will report both the genomic structure and major functions of individual Oct proteins in physiological and pathological processes.