Liver-enriched transcription factors in liver function and development. Part I: The hepatocyte nuclear factor network and liver-specific gene expression
Numerous studies have established the pivotal role of liver-enriched transcription factors in organ development and cellular function, and there is conclusive evidence for transcription factors to act in concert in liver-specific gene expression. During organ development and in progenitor cells the timely expression of certain transcription factors is necessary for cellular differentiation, and there is overwhelming evidence for hierarchical and cooperative principles in a networked environment of transcription factors. The search for molecular switches that control stem cell imprinting and liver-specific functions has lead to the discovery of many interactions between such different molecules as transcription factors, coactivators, corepressors, enzymes, DNA, and RNA. Many of these interactions either repress or activate liver-specific gene expression. It thus can be demonstrated that specific mutational changes in liver-enriched transcription factors lead to altered intermolecular interactions with the consequence of human disease. This review provides an overview of our current knowledge about liver-enriched transcription factors and their role in liver function and development. We review the basic principles of gene transcription, the role of liver-enriched transcription factors in liver gene regulation, and the classification of transcription factors by their DNA-binding domains.