X-linked Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (X-EDMD) is inherited through mutations in emerin, a nuclear membrane protein. Emerin has proposed roles in nuclear architecture and gene regulation, but direct molecular links to disease were unknown. We report that Lim-domain only 7 (Lmo7) binds emerin directly with 125 nM affinity; the C-terminal half of human Lmo7 (hLmo7C) was sufficient to bind emerin in vitro. Lmo7 appeared relevant to EDMD because a deletion that removes Lmo7 (plus eight exons of a neighboring gene) in mice causes dystrophic muscles [Semenova, E., Wang, X., Jablonski, M.M., Levorse, J. and Tilghman, S.M. (2003) An engineered 800 kilobase deletion of Uchl3 and Lmo7 on mouse chromosome 14 causes defects in viability, postnatal growth and degeneration of muscle and retina. Hum. Mol. Genet., 12, 1301-1312]. Lmo7 localizes in the nucleus, cytoplasm and cell surface, particularly adhesion junctions [Ooshio, T., Irie, K., Morimoto, K., Fukuhara, A., Imai, T. and Takai, Y. (2004) Involvement of LMO7 in the association of two cell-cell adhesion molecules, nectin and E-cadherin, through afadin and alpha-actinin in epithelial cells. J. Biol. Chem., 279, 31365-31373]. Our data suggest endogenous Lmo7 is a nucleocytoplasmic shuttling protein, and might also localize at focal adhesions in HeLa cells. Two key results show that Lmo7 regulates emerin gene expression: rat Lmo7 isoforms directly activated a luciferase reporter gene in vivo, and emerin mRNA expression decreased 93% in Lmo7-downregulated HeLa cells. Thus, Lmo7 not only binds emerin protein but is also required for emerin gene transcription. Microarray analysis of Lmo7-downregulated HeLa cells identified over 4200 misregulated genes, including 46 genes important for muscle or heart. Misregulation of 11 genes, including four (CREBBP, NAP1L1, LAP2, RBL2) known to be misregulated in X-EDMD patients and emerin-null mice [Bakay, M., Wang, Z., Melcon, G., Schiltz, L., Xuan, J., Zhao, P., Sartorelli, V., Seo, J., Pegoraro, E., Angelini, C. et al. (2006) Nuclear envelope dystrophies show a transcriptional fingerprint suggesting disruption of Rb-MyoD pathways in muscle regeneration. Brain, 129, 996-1013; Melcon, G., Kozlov, S., Cutler, D.A., Sullivan, T., Hernandez, L., Zhao, P., Mitchell, S., Nader, G., Bakay, M., Rottman, J.N. et al. (2006) Loss of emerin at the nuclear envelope disrupts the Rb1/E2F and MyoD pathways during muscle regeneration. Hum. Mol. Genet., 15, 637-651] was confirmed by real-time PCR. Overexpression of wild-type emerin, but not emerin mutant P183H (which causes EDMD and selectively disrupts binding to Lmo7), decreased the expression of CREBBP, NAP1L1 and LAP2, suggesting Lmo7 activity is both EDMD-relevant and inhibited by direct binding to emerin. We conclude that Lmo7 positively regulates many EDMD-relevant genes (including emerin), and is feedback-regulated by binding to emerin. © 2006 Oxford University Press.