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1.  The auxiliary protein complex SaePQ activates the phosphatase activity of sensor kinase SaeS in the SaeRS two-component system of Staphylococcus aureus 
Molecular microbiology  2012;86(2):331-348.
In bacterial two-component regulatory systems (TCSs), dephosphorylation of phosphorylated response regulators is essential for resetting the activated systems to the pre-activation state. However, in the SaeRS TCS, a major virulence TCS of Staphylococcus aureus, the mechanism for dephosphorylation of the response regulator SaeR has not been identified. Here we report that two auxiliary proteins from the sae operon, SaeP and SaeQ, form a protein complex with the sensor kinase SaeS and activate the sensor kinase’s phosphatase activity. Efficient activation of the phosphatase activity required the presence of both SaeP and SaeQ. When SaeP and SaeQ were ectopically expressed, the expression of coagulase, a sae target with low affinity for phosphorylated SaeR, was greatly reduced, while the expression of alpha-hemolysin, a sae target with high affinity for phosphorylated SaeR, was not, demonstrating a differential effect of SaePQ on sae target gene expression. When expression of SaePQ was abolished, most sae target genes were induced at an elevated level. Since the expression of SaeP and SaeQ is induced by the SaeRS TCS, these results suggest that the SaeRS TCS returns to the pre-activation state by a negative feedback mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3468659  PMID: 22882143
Bacteria; Membrane proteins; Lipoproteins; Negative-feedback; Phosphatase
2.  Identification of the P3 Promoter and Distinct Roles of the Two Promoters of the SaeRS Two-Component System in Staphylococcus aureus▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(18):4672-4684.
In Staphylococcus aureus, the SaeRS two-component system (TCS) encoded by the saePQRS operon controls expression of major virulence factors, such as coagulase and alpha-hemolysin. The saePQRS operon has two promoters: P1 and P3. The P1 promoter, a strong promoter, is autoinduced and can transcribe all four genes. Compared with P1, P3 shows fairly low but constitutive promoter activity, and it transcribes only saeR and saeS, the two genes encoding response regulator SaeR and sensor kinase SaeS. However, the role of each promoter in sae signaling has not been rigorously defined. In this study, we found that the genuine transcription start site (TSS) of P3 is located 78 nucleotides downstream of the previously reported TSS. Subsequently, the P3 promoter sequence was identified and validated by mutagenesis analyses. Deletion of the saePQ region including the P1 promoter did not significantly alter the expression patterns of coagulase and alpha-hemolysin, two well-known sae target genes. Due to its L18P substitution in a transmembrane domain, SaeS in strain Newman has a constitutive kinase activity. Interestingly, the mutation also rendered the protein unstable, but the protein stability was restored by SaeQ, suggesting a possible SaeQ-SaeS interaction. Ironically, the same mutation seems to increase mRNA stability. SaeR appears to be stabilized by SaeS, possibly by a protein-protein interaction. Chromosomal mutation of P1 did not affect the expression pattern of coagulase and alpha-hemolysin. Based on these results, we conclude that transcription of saeRS from P3 is sufficient for target gene activation and that P1 is not involved in the activation.
PMCID: PMC3165640  PMID: 21764914
3.  SDS Interferes with SaeS Signaling of Staphylococcus aureus Independently of SaePQ 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71644.
The Staphylococcus aureus regulatory saePQRS system controls the expression of numerous virulence factors, including extracellular adherence protein (Eap), which amongst others facilitates invasion of host cells. The saePQRS operon codes for 4 proteins: the histidine kinase SaeS, the response regulator SaeR, the lipoprotein SaeP and the transmembrane protein SaeQ. S. aureus strain Newman has a single amino acid substitution in the transmembrane domain of SaeS (L18P) which results in constitutive kinase activity. SDS was shown to be one of the signals interfering with SaeS activity leading to inhibition of the sae target gene eap in strains with SaeSL but causing activation in strains containing SaeSP. Here, we analyzed the possible involvement of the SaeP protein and saePQ region in SDS-mediated sae/eap expression. We found that SaePQ is not needed for SDS-mediated SaeS signaling. Furthermore, we could show that SaeS activity is closely linked to the expression of Eap and the capacity to invade host cells in a number of clinical isolates. This suggests that SaeS activity might be directly modulated by structurally non-complex environmental signals, as SDS, which possibly altering its kinase/phosphatase activity.
PMCID: PMC3748130  PMID: 23977102
4.  Differential Target Gene Activation by the Staphylococcus aureus Two-Component System saeRS ▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;192(3):613-623.
The saePQRS system of Staphylococcus aureus controls the expression of major virulence factors and encodes a histidine kinase (SaeS), a response regulator (SaeR), a membrane protein (SaeQ), and a lipoprotein (SaeP). The widely used strain Newman is characterized by a single amino acid change in the sensory domain of SaeS (Pro18 in strain Newman [SaeSP], compared with Leu18 in other strains [SaeSL]). SaeSP determines activation of the class I sae target genes (coa, fnbA, eap, sib, efb, fib, sae), which are highly expressed in strain Newman. In contrast, class II target genes (hla, hlb, cap) are not sensitive to the SaeS polymorphism. The SaeSL allele (saeSL) is dominant over the SaeSP allele, as shown by single-copy integration of saePQRSL in strain Newman, which results in severe repression of class I target genes. The differential effect on target gene expression is explained by different requirements for SaeR phosphorylation. From an analysis of saeS deletion strains and strains with mutated SaeR phosphorylation sites, we concluded that a high level of SaeR phosphorylation is required for activation of class I target genes. However, a low level of SaeR phosphorylation, which can occur independent of SaeS, is sufficient to activate class II target genes. Using inducible saeRS constructs, we showed that the expression of both types of target genes is independent of the saeRS dosage and that the typical growth phase-dependent gene expression pattern is not driven by SaeRS.
PMCID: PMC2812464  PMID: 19933357
5.  The Virulence Regulator Sae of Staphylococcus aureus: Promoter Activities and Response to Phagocytosis-Related Signals▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(10):3419-3428.
The two-component system SaeRS of Staphylococcus aureus is closely involved in the regulation of major virulence factors. However, little is known about the signals leading to saeRS activation. A total of four overlapping transcripts (T1 to T4) from three different transcription starting points are expressed in the sae operon. We used a β-galactosidase reporter assay to characterize the putative promoter regions within the saeRS upstream region. The main transcript T2 is probably generated by endoribonucleolytic processing of the T1 transcript. Only two distinct promoter elements (P1 and P3) could be detected within the saeRS upstream region. The P3 promoter, upstream of saeRS, generates the T3 transcript, includes a cis-acting enhancer element and is repressed by saeRS. The most distal P1 promoter is strongly autoregulated, activated by agr, and repressed by sigma factor B. In strain Newman a mutation within the histidine kinase SaeS leads to a constitutively activated sae system. Evaluation of different external signals revealed that the P1 promoter in strain ISP479R and strain UAMS-1 is inhibited by low pH and high NaCl concentrations but activated by hydrogen peroxide. The most prominent induction of P1 was observed at subinhibitory concentrations of α-defensins in various S. aureus strains, with the exception of strain ISP479R and strain COL. P1 was not activated by the antimicrobial peptides LL37 and daptomycin. In summary, the results indicate that the sensor molecule SaeS is activated by alteration within the membrane allowing the pathogen to react to phagocytosis related effector molecules.
PMCID: PMC2395011  PMID: 18344360
6.  Sumoylation modulates transcriptional activity of MITF in a promoter-specific manner 
The microphthalmia transcription factor MITF plays important roles in several cell lineages including retinal and neural crest-derived pigment cells. Previous reports have shown that besides its regulation at the transcriptional level, MITF is also regulated post-translationally by phosphorylation and ubiquitination which affect the protein's activity and stability. Here we demonstrate that in addition, MITF is modified in melanoma cells by small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO). In vitro assays further show that sumoylation occurs at two lysine residues, K182 and K316, and depends on SUMO E1 activating enzyme (SAE I/SAE II) and E2 conjugating enzyme (Ubc9). Interestingly, MITF with double lysine 182/316 to arginine mutations, although displaying normal DNA binding, stability and nuclear localization, shows a substantial increase in the transcriptional stimulation of promoters containing multiple but not single MITF binding sites. MITF containing the double lysine-to-arginine substitution also shows enhanced cooperation with Sox10 on the Dct promoter. We conclude that SUMO modification of MITF regulates the protein's transcriptional activity especially with respect to synergistic activation. The results suggest that sumoylation plays a significant role among the multiple mechanisms that regulate MITF during development and in adulthood.
PMCID: PMC1351050  PMID: 16029420
melanocyte; transcription regulation; post-translational regulation; cooperation; Sox10
7.  Sumoylation Dynamics During Keratinocyte Differentiation 
Journal of cell science  2006;120(Pt 1):125-136.
SUMO modification regulates the activity of numerous transcription factors that have a direct role in cell cycle progression, apoptosis, cellular proliferation, and development, but its role in differentiation processes is less clear. Keratinocyte differentiation requires the coordinated activation of a series of transcription factors, and as several critical keratinocyte transcription factors are known to be SUMO substrates, we investigated the role of sumoylation in keratinocyte differentiation. In a human keratinocyte cell line model (HaCaT cells), calcium-induced differentiation led to the transient and coordinated transcriptional activation of the genes encoding critical sumoylation system components, including SAE1, SAE2, Ubc9, SENP1, Miz-1 (PIASxβ), SUMO2, and SUMO3. The increased gene expression resulted in higher levels of the respective proteins and changes in the pattern of sumoylated substrate proteins during the differentiation process. Similar to the HaCaT results, stratified human foreskin keratinocytes showed an upregulation of Ubc9 in the suprabasal layers. Lastly, abrogation of sumoylation by Gam1 expression severely disrupted normal HaCaT differentiation, consistent with an important role for sumoylation in the proper progression of this biological process.
PMCID: PMC3470114  PMID: 17164289
Keratinocyte; differentiation; SUMO; HaCaT; Ubc9
8.  Rot and SaeRS Cooperate To Activate Expression of the Staphylococcal Superantigen-Like Exoproteins 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(16):4355-4365.
Staphylococcus aureus is a significant human pathogen that is capable of infecting a wide range of host tissues. This bacterium is able to evade the host immune response by utilizing a repertoire of virulence factors. These factors are tightly regulated by various two-component systems (TCS) and transcription factors. Previous studies have suggested that transcriptional regulation of a subset of immunomodulators, known as the staphylococcal superantigen-like proteins (Ssls), is mediated by the master regulators accessory gene regulator (Agr) TCS, S. aureus exoprotein expression (Sae) TCS, and Rot. Here we demonstrate that Rot and SaeR, the response regulator of the Sae TCS, synergize to coordinate the activation of the ssl promoters. We have determined that both transcription factors are required, but that neither is sufficient, for promoter activation. This regulatory scheme is mediated by direct binding of both transcription factors to the ssl promoters. We also demonstrate that clinically relevant methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains respond to neutrophils via the Sae TCS to upregulate the expression of ssls. Until now, Rot and the Sae TCS have been proposed to work in opposition of one another on their target genes. This is the first example of these two regulators working in concert to activate promoters.
PMCID: PMC3416255  PMID: 22685286
9.  In the Staphylococcus aureus Two-Component System sae, the Response Regulator SaeR Binds to a Direct Repeat Sequence and DNA Binding Requires Phosphorylation by the Sensor Kinase SaeS ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(8):2111-2127.
Staphylococcus aureus uses the SaeRS two-component system to control the expression of many virulence factors such as alpha-hemolysin and coagulase; however, the molecular mechanism of this signaling has not yet been elucidated. Here, using the P1 promoter of the sae operon as a model target DNA, we demonstrated that the unphosphorylated response regulator SaeR does not bind to the P1 promoter DNA, while its C-terminal DNA binding domain alone does. The DNA binding activity of full-length SaeR could be restored by sensor kinase SaeS-induced phosphorylation. Phosphorylated SaeR is more resistant to digestion by trypsin, suggesting conformational changes. DNase I footprinting assays revealed that the SaeR protection region in the P1 promoter contains a direct repeat sequence (GTTAAN6GTTAA [where N is any nucleotide]). This sequence is critical to the binding of phosphorylated SaeR. Mutational changes in the repeat sequence greatly reduced both the in vitro binding of SaeR and the in vivo function of the P1 promoter. From these results, we concluded that SaeR recognizes the direct repeat sequence as a binding site and that binding requires phosphorylation by SaeS.
PMCID: PMC2849438  PMID: 20172998
10.  Organizational Requirements of the SaeR Binding Sites for a Functional P1 Promoter of the sae Operon in Staphylococcus aureus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(11):2865-2876.
In Staphylococcus aureus, the SaeRS two-component system controls the expression of multiple virulence factors. Of the two promoters in the sae operon, P1 is autoinduced and has two binding sites for the response regulator SaeR. In this study, we examined the organizational requirements of the SaeR binding sites in P1 for transcription activation. Mutational studies showed that both binding sites are essential for binding to phosphorylated SaeR (P-SaeR) and transcription activation. When the 21-bp distance between the centers of the two SaeR binding sites was altered to 26 bp, 31 bp, 36 bp, or 41 bp, only the 31-bp mutant retained approximately 40% of the original promoter activity. When the −1-bp spacing (i.e.,1-bp overlap) between the primary SaeR binding site and the −35 promoter region was altered, all mutant P1 promoters failed to initiate transcription; however, when the first nucleotide of the −35 region was changed from A to T, the mutants with 0-bp or 22-bp spacing showed detectable promoter activity. Although P-SaeR was essential for the binding of RNA polymerase to P1, it was not essential for the binding of the enzyme to the alpha-hemolysin promoter. When the nonoptimal spacing between promoter elements in P1 or the coagulase promoter was altered to the optimal spacing of 17 bp, both promoters failed to initiate transcription. These results suggest that SaeR binding sites are under rather strict organizational restrictions and provide clues for understanding the molecular mechanism of sae-mediated transcription activation.
PMCID: PMC3370622  PMID: 22447906
11.  Role of Staphylococcus aureus Global Regulators sae and σB in Virulence Gene Expression during Device-Related Infection  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(6):3415-3421.
The ability of Staphylococcus aureus to adapt to different environments is due to a regulatory network comprising several loci. Here we present a detailed study of the interaction between the two global regulators sae and σB of S. aureus and their influence on virulence gene expression in vitro, as well as during device-related infection. The expression of sae, asp23, hla, clfA, coa, and fnbA was determined in strain Newman and its isogenic saeS/R and sigB mutants by Northern analysis and LightCycler reverse transcription-PCR. There was no indication of direct cross talk between the two regulators. sae had a dominant effect on target gene expression during device-related infection. σB seemed to be less active throughout the infection than under induced conditions in vitro.
PMCID: PMC1111833  PMID: 15908369
12.  Influence of the Two-Component System SaeRS on Global Gene Expression in Two Different Staphylococcus aureus Strains†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(22):7742-7758.
The two-component system SaeRS consisting of the histidin kinase SaeS and the response regulator SaeR is known to act on virulence gene expression in Staphylococcus aureus. In order to get a more comprehensive picture on SaeR-regulated genes, we studied the contribution of the two-component system on global gene expression by using both the proteomic and transcriptomic approach. Altogether, a loss of SaeRS resulted in a decreased amount of at least 17 extracellular proteins and two cell surface-associated proteins, among them several important virulence factors such as HlgA, HlgB, HlgC, LukF, and LukM. SaeRS activates the expression of these genes at the transcriptional level. The amount of the five proteins Aur, SspA, SsaA, Plc, and GlpQ was negatively influenced by SaeRS. However, the transcription of the corresponding genes was not affected by the two-component system. SaeRS had also no measurable influence on the transcription of the regulatory genes agr, sarA, arlRS, and sigB that contribute to the regulation of SaeRS-dependent virulence factors identified in this investigation. Our results clearly show that SaeRS is strongly involved in the tight temporal control of virulence factor expression in S. aureus. Its precise role within the regulatory network remains to be determined.
PMCID: PMC1636327  PMID: 17079681
13.  Repression of hla by rot Is Dependent on sae in Staphylococcus aureus▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(3):1068-1075.
The regulatory locus sae is a two-component system in Staphylococcus aureus that regulates many important virulence factors, including alpha-toxin (encoded by hla) at the transcriptional level. The SarA homologs Rot and SarT were previously shown to be repressors of hla in selected S. aureus backgrounds. To delineate the interaction of rot and sae and the contribution of sarT to hla expression, an assortment of rot and sae isogenic single mutants, a rot sae double mutant, and a rot sae sarT markerless triple mutant were constructed from wild-type strain COL. Using Northern blot analysis and transcriptional reporter gene green fluorescent protein, fusion, and phenotypic assays, we found that the repression of hla by rot is dependent on sae. A rot sae sarT triple mutant was not able to rescue the hla defect of the rot sae double mutant. Among the three sae promoters, the distal sae P3 promoter is the strongest in vitro. Interestingly, the sae P3 promoter activities correlate with hla expression in rot, rot sae, and rot sae sarT mutants of COL. Transcriptional study has also shown that rot repressed sae, especially at the sae P3 promoter. Collectively, our data implicated the importance of sae in the rot-mediated repression of hla in S. aureus.
PMCID: PMC2258807  PMID: 18174341
14.  Stimulation of Myc transactivation by the TATA binding protein in promoter-reporter assays 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:7.
The c-Myc oncogenic transcription factor heterodimerizes with Max, binds specific DNA sites and regulates transcription. The role of Myc in transcriptional activation involves its binding to TRRAP and histone acetylases; however, Myc's ability to activate transcription in transient transfection assays is remarkably weak (2 to 5 fold) when compared to other transcription factors. Since a deletion Myc mutant D106-143 and a substitution mutant W135E that weakly binds TRRAP are still fully active in transient transfection reporter assays and the TATA binding protein (TBP) has been reported to directly bind Myc, we sought to determine the effect of TBP on Myc transactivation.
We report here a potent stimulation of Myc transactivation by TBP, allowing up to 35-fold transactivation of reporter constructs. Although promoters with an initiator (InR) element briskly responded to Myc transactivation, the presence of an InR significantly diminished the response to increasing amounts of TBP. We surmise from these findings that promoters containing both TATA and InR elements may control Myc responsive genes that require brisk increased expression within a narrow window of Myc levels, independent of TBP. In contrast, promoters driven by the TATA element only, may also respond to modulation of TBP activity or levels.
Our observations not only demonstrate that TBP is limiting for Myc transactivation in transient transfection experiments, but they also suggest that the inclusion of TBP in Myc transactivation assays may further improve the characterization of c-Myc target genes.
PMCID: PMC1145180  PMID: 15876353
15.  Importin α/β mediates nuclear import of individual SUMO E1 subunits and of the holo-enzyme 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(5):652-660.
SUMOylation is an essential modification that regulates predominantly nuclear proteins. Here we describe two pathways for the generation of nuclear SUMO E1 enzyme, import of individual subunits, and transport of the holo-enzyme. The NLS in Uba2 is required for transport of the complex; the c-Myc–like NLS in Aos1 functions only in the free subunit.
SUMOylation, reversible attachment of small ubiquitin-related modifier (SUMO), serves to regulate hundreds of proteins. Consistent with predominantly nuclear targets, enzymes required for attachment and removal of SUMO are highly enriched in this compartment. This is true also for the first enzyme of the SUMOylation cascade, the SUMO E1 enzyme heterodimer, Aos1/Uba2 (SAE1/SAE2). This essential enzyme serves to activate SUMO and to transfer it to the E2-conjugating enzyme Ubc9. Although the last 40 amino acids in yeast Uba2 have been implicated in its nuclear localization, little was known about the import pathways of Aos1, Uba2, and/or of the assembled E1 heterodimer. Here we show that the mammalian E1 subunits can be imported separately, identify nuclear localization signals (NLSs) in Aos1 and in Uba2, and demonstrate that their import is mediated by importin α/β in vitro and in intact cells. Once assembled into a stable heterodimer, the E1 enzyme can still be efficiently imported by importin α/β, due to the Uba2 NLS that is still accessible. These pathways may serve distinct purposes: import of nascent subunits prior to assembly and reimport of stable E1 enzyme complex after mitosis.
PMCID: PMC3046061  PMID: 21209321
16.  Molecular Architecture of the Regulatory Locus sae of Staphylococcus aureus and Its Impact on Expression of Virulence Factors 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(21):6278-6286.
We characterized the sae operon, a global regulator for virulence gene expression in Staphylococcus aureus. A Tn917 sae mutant was obtained by screening a Tn917 library of the agr mutant ISP479Mu for clones with altered hemolytic activity. Sequence analysis of the sae operon revealed two additional open reading frames (ORFs) (ORF3 and ORF4) upstream of the two-component regulatory genes saeR and saeS. Four overlapping sae-specific transcripts (T1 to T4) were detected by Northern blot analysis, and the transcriptional initiation points were mapped by primer extension analysis. The T1, T2, and T3 mRNAs are probably terminated at the same stem-loop sequence downstream of saeS. The T1 message (3.1 kb) initiates upstream of ORF4, T2 (2.4 kb) initiates upstream of ORF3, and T3 (2.0 kb) initiates in front of saeR. T4 (0.7 kb) represents a monocistronic mRNA encompassing ORF4 only. sae-specific transcripts were detectable in all of the 40 different clinical S. aureus isolates investigated. Transcript levels were at maximum during the post-exponential growth phase. The sae mutant showed a significantly reduced rate of invasion of human endothelial cells, consistent with diminished transcription and expression of fnbA. The expression of type 5 capsular polysaccharide is activated in the sae mutant of strain Newman, as shown by immunofluorescence and promoter-reporter fusion experiments. In summary, the sae operon constitutes a four-component regulator system which acts on virulence gene expression in S. aureus.
PMCID: PMC219404  PMID: 14563862
17.  The budding yeast Mei5-Sae3 complex interacts with Rad51 and preferentially binds a DNA fork structure 
DNA repair  2011;10(6):586-594.
Meiotic homologous recombination in Saccharomyces cerevisiae involves formation of nucleoprotein filaments of Rad51 and Dmc1 that mediate DNA strand exchange between homologous chromosomes. The Mei5-Sae3 protein complex functions as a recombination mediator to promote nucleation of the Dmc1 recombinase onto replication protein A-coated single-stranded DNA. Here, we have expressed and purified the Mei5 protein, Sae3 protein and the Mei5-Sae3 complex for biochemical studies. We show the Mei5-Sae3 complex preferentially binds a fork-like DNA substrate to 3′ overhanging DNA, single-stranded DNA or double-stranded DNA. We demonstrate that Mei5 confers DNA binding activity to the Mei5-Sae3 complex. We determined Mei5-Sae3 interacts with the Rad51 recombinase through the N-terminal domain of Mei5. Unlike Rad52, Mei5-Sae3 lacks recombination mediator activity for Rad51. Importantly, we find that the Mei5-Sae3 complex does not harbor single-strand DNA annealing activity. These properties of the Mei5-Sae3 complex distinguishes it from the Rad52 protein, which serves as the mediator of Rad51 and is involved in the single-strand DNA annealing pathway of homologous recombination.
PMCID: PMC3119066  PMID: 21543267
Mei5-Sae3; meiotic recombination; recombination mediator; Rad51
18.  Mre11–Rad50–Xrs2 and Sae2 promote 5’ strand resection of DNA double-strand breaks 
Nature structural & molecular biology  2010;17(12):1478-1485.
The repair of DNA double-strand breaks by homologous recombination is essential for genomic stability. The first step in this process is resection of 5’ strands to generate 3’ single-stranded DNA intermediates. Efficient resection in budding yeast requires the Mre11–Rad50–Xrs2 (MRX) complex and the Sae2 protein, although the role of MRX has been unclear since Mre11 paradoxically exhibits 3’ to 5’ exonuclease activity in vitro. Here we reconstitute resection with purified MRX, Sae2, and Exo1 proteins and show that degradation of the 5’ strand is catalyzed by Exo1 yet completely dependent on MRX and Sae2 when Exo1 levels are limiting. This stimulation is largely the result of cooperative binding of DNA substrates by Exo1, MRX, and Sae2. This work establishes the direct role of MRX and Sae2 in promoting the resection of 5’ strands in DNA double-strand break repair.
PMCID: PMC3059534  PMID: 21102445
19.  Epigenetic reprogramming of Myc target genes 
Myc protein plays a fundamental role in regulation of cell cycle, proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis by modulating the expression of a large number of targets. Myc binding to its targets depends on the presence of the E-box binding sequence and by a chromatin context in which histone H3K4me3 lysine methylation favors Myc binding. Myc role in transcription is still an open question since Myc is able to either activate or repress target genes and the molecular mechanisms by which it exerts these functions span from chromatin remodeling to processive RNAPII elongation. Since the types and number of enzymes able to reversibly modify histones is recently growing, some of the acquisitions regarding Myc chromatin remodeling properties are being revaluated. Here, we summarize recent findings regarding the function of Myc in epigenetic reprogramming of its targets in transcription of differentiated as well as pluripotent cells.
PMCID: PMC3180057  PMID: 21969221
Myc; transcription; histones acetylation; histones methylation; epigenome
20.  Crystal Structure of UBA2ufd-Ubc9: Insights into E1-E2 Interactions in Sumo Pathways 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15805.
Canonical ubiquitin-like proteins (UBLs) such as ubiquitin, Sumo, NEDD8, and ISG15 are ligated to targets by E1-E2-E3 multienzyme cascades. The Sumo cascade, conserved among all eukaryotes, regulates numerous biological processes including protein localization, transcription, DNA replication, and mitosis. Sumo conjugation is initiated by the heterodimeric Aos1-Uba2 E1 enzyme (in humans called Sae1-Uba2), which activates Sumo's C-terminus, binds the dedicated E2 enzyme Ubc9, and promotes Sumo C-terminal transfer between the Uba2 and Ubc9 catalytic cysteines. To gain insights into details of E1-E2 interactions in the Sumo pathway, we determined crystal structures of the C-terminal ubiquitin fold domain (ufd) from yeast Uba2 (Uba2ufd), alone and in complex with Ubc9. The overall structures of both yeast Uba2ufd and Ubc9 superimpose well on their individual human counterparts, suggesting conservation of fundamental features of Sumo conjugation. Docking the Uba2ufd-Ubc9 and prior full-length human Uba2 structures allows generation of models for steps in Sumo transfer from Uba2 to Ubc9, and supports the notion that Uba2 undergoes remarkable conformational changes during the reaction. Comparisons to previous structures from the NEDD8 cascade demonstrate that UBL cascades generally utilize some parallel E1-E2 interaction surfaces. In addition, the structure of the Uba2ufd-Ubc9 complex reveals interactions unique to Sumo E1 and E2. Comparison with a previous Ubc9-E3 complex structure demonstrates overlap between Uba2 and E3 binding sites on Ubc9, indicating that loading with Sumo and E3-catalyzed transfer to substrates are strictly separate steps. The results suggest mechanisms establishing specificity and order in Sumo conjugation cascades.
PMCID: PMC3012696  PMID: 21209884
21.  The Myc Transactivation Domain Promotes Global Phosphorylation of the RNA Polymerase II Carboxy-Terminal Domain Independently of Direct DNA Binding▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(6):2059-2073.
Myc is a transcription factor which is dependent on its DNA binding domain for transcriptional regulation of target genes. Here, we report the surprising finding that Myc mutants devoid of direct DNA binding activity and Myc target gene regulation can rescue a substantial fraction of the growth defect in myc−/− fibroblasts. Expression of the Myc transactivation domain alone induces a transcription-independent elevation of the RNA polymerase II (Pol II) C-terminal domain (CTD) kinases cyclin-dependent kinase 7 (CDK7) and CDK9 and a global increase in CTD phosphorylation. The Myc transactivation domain binds to the transcription initiation sites of these promoters and stimulates TFIIH binding in an MBII-dependent manner. Expression of the Myc transactivation domain increases CDK mRNA cap methylation, polysome loading, and the rate of translation. We find that some traditional Myc transcriptional target genes are also regulated by this Myc-driven translation mechanism. We propose that Myc transactivation domain-driven RNA Pol II CTD phosphorylation has broad effects on both transcription and mRNA metabolism.
PMCID: PMC1820498  PMID: 17242204
22.  c-Myc modulates microRNA processing via the transcriptional regulation of Drosha 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1942.
The c-Myc oncogenic transcription factor is known to regulate microRNA (miRNA) expression at the transcriptional level. However, little is known about the function of c-Myc in miRNA processing. Here, we report that Drosha, one of the most important components of the miRNA processing machinery, is a c-Myc target gene. c-Myc transactivates drosha mRNA expression, thus upregulating the Drosha protein level. A chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiment revealed that c-Myc binds directly to the E-box of the drosha promoter. Both in vitro and in vivo microRNA processing assays demonstrated that c-Myc promotes miRNA processing by upregulating the Drosha expression level. Overall, our study reveals a previously unrecognised function of c-Myc in miRNA processing and provides valuable insight into a new aspect of how c-Myc regulates microRNA expression.
PMCID: PMC3672885  PMID: 23735886
23.  myc Boxes, Which Are Conserved in myc Family Proteins, Are Signals for Protein Degradation via the Proteasome 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(10):5961-5969.
Cellular levels of the rapidly degraded c-myc protein play an important role in determining the proliferation status of cells. Increased levels of c-myc are frequently associated with rapidly proliferating tumor cells. We show here that myc boxes I and II, found in the N termini of all members of the myc protein family, function to direct the degradation of the c-myc protein. Both myc boxes I and II contain sufficient information to independently direct the degradation of otherwise stably expressed proteins to which they are fused. At least part of the myc box-directed degradation occurs via the proteasome. The mechanism of myc box-directed degradation appears to be conserved between yeast and mammalian cells. Our results suggest that the myc boxes may play an important role in regulating the level and activity of the c-myc protein.
PMCID: PMC109182  PMID: 9742113
Cell reports  2012;1(2):110-117.
The SR protein splicing factor SRSF1 is a potent proto-oncogene that is frequently upregulated in cancer. Here we show that SRSF1 is a direct target of the transcription-factor oncoprotein MYC. These two oncogenes are significantly co-expressed in lung carcinomas, and MYC knockdown downregulates SRSF1 expression in lung-cancer cell lines. MYC directly activates transcription of SRSF1 through two non-canonical E-boxes in its promoter. The resulting increase in SRSF1 protein is sufficient to modulate alternative splicing of a subset of transcripts. In particular, MYC induction leads to SRSF1-mediated alternative splicing of the signaling kinase MKNK2 and the transcription factor TEAD1. SRSF1 knockdown reduces MYC’s oncogenic activity, decreasing proliferation and anchorage-independent growth. These results suggest a mechanism for SRSF1 upregulation in tumors with elevated MYC, and identify SRSF1 as a critical MYC target that contributes to its oncogenic potential by enabling MYC to regulate the expression of specific protein isoforms through alternative splicing.
PMCID: PMC3334311  PMID: 22545246
25.  Pin1 Regulates the Dynamics of c-Myc DNA Binding To Facilitate Target Gene Regulation and Oncogenesis 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(15):2930-2949.
The Myc oncoprotein is considered a master regulator of gene transcription by virtue of its ability to modulate the expression of a large percentage of all genes. However, mechanisms that direct Myc's recruitment to DNA and target gene selection to elicit specific cellular functions have not been well elucidated. Here, we report that the Pin1 prolyl isomerase enhances recruitment of serine 62-phosphorylated Myc and its coactivators to select promoters during gene activation, followed by promoting Myc's release associated with its degradation. This facilitates Myc's activation of genes involved in cell growth and metabolism, resulting in enhanced proproliferative activity, even while controlling Myc levels. In cancer cells with impaired Myc degradation, Pin1 still enhances Myc DNA binding, although it no longer facilitates Myc degradation. Thus, we find that Pin1 and Myc are cooverexpressed in cancer, and this drives a gene expression pattern that we show is enriched in poor-outcome breast cancer subtypes. This study provides new insight into mechanisms regulating Myc DNA binding and oncogenic activity, it reveals a novel role for Pin1 in the regulation of transcription factors, and it elucidates a mechanism that can contribute to oncogenic cooperation between Pin1 and Myc.
PMCID: PMC3719674  PMID: 23716601

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