Research article

B-Myb acts as a repressor of human COL1A1 collagen gene expression by interacting with Sp1 and CBF factors in scleroderma fibroblasts



We investigated the role of B-Myb, a cell-cycle-regulated transcription factor, in the expression of the α1 (I) pro-collagen gene (COL1A1) in scleroderma fibroblasts. Scleroderma or SSc (systemic sclerosis) is a fibrotic disease characterized by excessive production of extracellular matrix components, especially type I collagen. Northern-blot analysis showed an inverse relationship between COL1A1 mRNA expression and that of B-Myb during exponential cell growth and during quiescence in human SSc fibroblasts. Overexpression of B-Myb in SSc fibroblasts was correlated with decreased COL1A1 mRNA expression. Transient transfections localized the down-regulatory effect of B-Myb to a region containing the proximal 174 bp of the COL1A1 promoter that does not contain B-Myb consensus binding sites. Gel-shift analysis, using nuclear extracts from normal and SSc fibroblasts transfected with B-Myb, showed no differences in DNA–protein complex formation when compared with the nuclear extracts from mock-transfected cells. However, we found that B-Myb decreases Sp1 (specificity protein 1) and CBF (CCAAT-binding factor) binding for their specific sites localized in the 174 bp COL1A1 proximal promoter. These results were also confirmed using B-Myb-immunodepleted nuclear extracts. Furthermore, immunoprecipitation assays using SSc nuclear extracts demonstrated a physical interaction of B-Myb with Sp1 and CBF transcription factors, and also an interaction between Sp1 and CBF. In addition, by employing full-length or deleted B-Myb cDNA construct, we found that B-Myb down-regulates the COL1A1 proximal promoter through its C-terminal domain. Thus these results suggest that B-Myb may be an important factor in the pathway(s) regulating collagen production in SSc fibroblasts.

  • collagen
  • Myb
  • promoter
  • regulation
  • scleroderma
  • transcription factor


  • 1 Present address: Sigma-tau, Industrie Farmaceutiche Riunite, S.p.A., Pomezia, Rome, Italy.

  • Abbreviations used: CAT, chloramphenicol acetyltransferase; CBF, CCAAT-binding factor; CMV, cytomegalovirus; DMEM, Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium; EMSA, electrophoretic mobility-shift assay; HA, haemagglutinin; MBS, Myb-binding site; SMC, smooth-muscle cell; Sp1, specificity protein 1; SSc, systemic sclerosis.