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1.  Protein Degradation of RNA Polymerase II-Association Factor 1(PAF1) Is Controlled by CNOT4 and 26S Proteasome 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0125599.
The PAF complex (PAFc) participates in various steps of the transcriptional process, from initiation to termination, by interacting with and recruiting various proteins to the proper locus for each step. PAFc is an evolutionarily conserved, multi-protein complex comprising PAF1, CDC73, CTR9, LEO1, yRTF1 and, in humans, hSKI8. These components of PAFc work together, and their protein levels are closely interrelated. In the present study, we investigated the mechanism of PAF1 protein degradation. We found that PAF1 protein levels are negatively regulated by the expression of CNOT4, an ortholog of yNOT4 and a member of the CCR4-NOT complex. CNOT4 specifically controls PAF1 but not other components of PAFc at the protein level by regulating the polyubiquitination of PAF1 and its subsequent degradation by the 26S proteasome. The degradation of PAF1 was found to require nuclear localization, as no PAF1 degradation by CNOT4 and the 26S proteasome was observed with NLS (nucleus localization signal)-deficient PAF1 mutants. However, chromatin binding by PAF1 was not necessary for 26S proteasome- or CNOT4-mediated degradation. Our results suggest that CNOT4 controls the degradation of chromatin-unbound PAF1 via the 26S proteasome.
PMCID: PMC4416890  PMID: 25933433
2.  Model-Based Simulation and Prediction of an Antiviral Strategy against Influenza A Infection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68235.
There is a strong need to develop novel strategies in using antiviral agents to efficiently treat influenza infections. Thus, we constructed a rule-based mathematical model that reflects the complicated interactions of the host immunity and viral life cycle and analyzed the key controlling steps of influenza infections. The main characteristics of the pandemic and seasonal influenza strains were estimated using parameter values derived from cells infected with Influenza A/California/04/2009 and Influenza A/NewCaledonia/20/99, respectively. The quantitative dynamics of the infected host cells revealed a more aggressive progression of the pandemic strain than the seasonal strain. The perturbation of each parameter in the model was then tested for its effects on viral production. In both the seasonal and pandemic strains, the inhibition of the viral release (kC), the reinforcement of viral attachment (kV), and an increased transition rate of infected cells into activated cells (kI) exhibited significant suppression effects on the viral production; however, these inhibitory effects were only observed when the numerical perturbations were performed at the early stages of the infection. In contrast, combinatorial perturbations of both the inhibition of viral release and either the reinforcement of the activation of infected cells or the viral attachment exhibited a significant reduction in the viral production even at a later stage of infection. These results suggest that, in addition to blocking the viral release, a combination therapy that also enhances either the viral attachment or the transition of the infected cells might provide an alternative for effectively controlling progressed influenza infection.
PMCID: PMC3706530  PMID: 23874556
3.  CTR9, a Component of PAF Complex, Controls Elongation Block at the c-Fos Locus via Signal-Dependent Regulation of Chromatin-Bound NELF Dissociation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61055.
PAF complex (PAFc) is an RNA polymerase II associated factor that controls diverse steps of transcription. Although it is generally associated with actively transcribed genes, a repressive PAFc has also been suggested. Here, we report that PAFc regulates the transition from transcription initiation to transcription elongation. PAFc repressed IL-6-induced, but not TNF-α-induced, immediate early gene expression. PAFc constitutively associated with the 5′-coding region of the c-Fos locus, then transiently dissociated upon IL-6 stimulation. When CTR9, a component of PAFc, was depleted, higher levels of serine 5-phosphorylated or serine 2-phosphorylated forms of RNA Polymerase II were associated with the unstimulated c-Fos locus. We also observed an increased association of CDK9, a kinase component of the pTEF-b elongation factor, with the c-Fos locus in the CTR9-depleted condition. Furthermore, association of negative elongation factor, NELF, which is required to proceed to the elongation phase, was significantly reduced by CTR9 depletion, whereas elongation factor SPT5 recruitment was enhanced by CTR9 depletion. Finally, the chromatin association of CTR9 was specifically controlled by IL-6-induced kinase activity, because a JAK2 kinase inhibitor, AG-490, blocked its association. In conclusion, our data suggest that PAFc controls the recruitment of NELF and SPT5 to target loci in a signal- and locus-specific manner.
PMCID: PMC3623864  PMID: 23593388
4.  IL-1β–specific recruitment of GCN5 histone acetyltransferase induces the release of PAF1 from chromatin for the de-repression of inflammatory response genes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(8):4495-4506.
To determine the functional specificity of inflammation, it is critical to orchestrate the timely activation and repression of inflammatory responses. Here, we explored the PAF1 (RNA polymerase II associated factor)-mediated signal- and locus-specific repression of genes induced through the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-1β. Using microarray analysis, we identified the PAF1 target genes whose expression was further enhanced by PAF1 knockdown in IL-1β–stimulated HepG2 hepatocarcinomas. PAF1 bound near the transcription start sites of target genes and dissociated on stimulation. In PAF1-deficient cells, more elongating RNA polymerase II and acetylated histones were observed, although IL-1β–mediated activation and recruitment of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) were not altered. Under basal conditions, PAF1 blocked histone acetyltransferase general control non-depressible 5 (GCN5)-mediated acetylation on H3K9 and H4K5 residues. On IL-1β stimulation, activated GCN5 discharged PAF1 from chromatin, allowing productive transcription to occur. PAF1 bound to histones but not to acetylated histones, and the chromatin-binding domain of PAF1 was essential for target gene repression. Moreover, IL-1β–induced cell migration was similarly controlled through counteraction between PAF1 and GCN5. These results suggest that the IL-1β signal-specific exchange of PAF1 and GCN5 on the target locus limits inappropriate gene induction and facilitates the timely activation of inflammatory responses.
PMCID: PMC3632138  PMID: 23502002
5.  Acetyl salicylic acid inhibits Th17 airway inflammation via blockade of IL-6 and IL-17 positive feedback 
T-helper (Th)17 cell responses are important for the development of neutrophilic inflammatory disease. Recently, we found that acetyl salicylic acid (ASA) inhibited Th17 airway inflammation in an asthma mouse model induced by sensitization with lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-containing allergens. To investigate the mechanism(s) of the inhibitory effect of ASA on the development of Th17 airway inflammation, a neutrophilic asthma mouse model was generated by intranasal sensitization with LPS plus ovalbumin (OVA) and then challenged with OVA alone. Immunologic parameters and airway inflammation were evaluated 6 and 48 h after the last OVA challenge. ASA inhibited the production of interleukin (IL)-17 from lung T cells as well as in vitro Th17 polarization induced by IL-6. Additionally, ASA, but not salicylic acid, suppressed Th17 airway inflammation, which was associated with decreased expression of acetyl-STAT3 (downstream signaling of IL-6) in the lung. Moreover, the production of IL-6 from inflammatory cells, induced by IL-17, was abolished by treatment with ASA, whereas that induced by LPS was not. Altogether, ASA, likely via its acetyl moiety, inhibits Th17 airway inflammation by blockade of IL-6 and IL-17 positive feedback.
PMCID: PMC3584657  PMID: 23306703
Acetyl salicylic acid; IL-6; IL-17A; STAT3; Th17
6.  Identification of co-occurring transcription factor binding sites from DNA sequence using clustered position weight matrices 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(5):e38.
Accurate prediction of transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) is a prerequisite for identifying cis-regulatory modules that underlie transcriptional regulatory circuits encoded in the genome. Here, we present a computational framework for detecting TFBSs, when multiple position weight matrices (PWMs) for a transcription factor are available. Grouping multiple PWMs of a transcription factor (TF) based on their sequence similarity improves the specificity of TFBS prediction, which was evaluated using multiple genome-wide ChIP-Seq data sets from 26 TFs. The Z-scores of the area under a receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) values of 368 TFs were calculated and used to statistically identify co-occurring regulatory motifs in the TF bound ChIP loci. Motifs that are co-occurring along with the empirical bindings of E2F, JUN or MYC have been evaluated, in the basal or stimulated condition. Results prove our method can be useful to systematically identify the co-occurring motifs of the TF for the given conditions.
PMCID: PMC3300004  PMID: 22187154
7.  5′-Triphosphate-RNA-independent activation of RIG-I via RNA aptamer with enhanced antiviral activity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(6):2724-2733.
RIG-I is a cytosolic receptor for non-self RNA that mediates immune responses against viral infections through IFNα/β production. In an attempt to identify novel tools that modulate IFNα/β production, we used SELEX technology to screen RNA aptamers that specifically target RIG-I protein. Most of the selected RIG-I aptamers contained polyU motifs in the second half regions that played critical roles in the activation of RIG-I-mediated IFNβ production. Unlike other known ligands, RIG-I aptamer bound and activated RIG-I in a 5′-triphosphate-independent manner. The helicase and RD domain of RIG-I were used for aptamer binding, but intact RIG-I protein was required to exert aptamer-mediated signaling activation. Furthermore, replication of NDV, VSV and influenza virus in infected host cells was efficiently blocked by pre- or post-treatment with RIG-I aptamer. Based on these data, we propose that RIG-I aptamer has strong potential to be an antiviral agent that specifically boosts the RIG-I-dependent signaling cascade.
PMCID: PMC3315321  PMID: 22127865
8.  Prediction and Experimental Validation of Novel STAT3 Target Genes in Human Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e6911.
The comprehensive identification of functional transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) is an important step in understanding complex transcriptional regulatory networks. This study presents a motif-based comparative approach, STAT-Finder, for identifying functional DNA binding sites of STAT3 transcription factor. STAT-Finder combines STAT-Scanner, which was designed to predict functional STAT TFBSs with improved sensitivity, and a motif-based alignment to minimize false positive prediction rates. Using two reference sets containing promoter sequences of known STAT3 target genes, STAT-Finder identified functional STAT3 TFBSs with enhanced prediction efficiency and sensitivity relative to other conventional TFBS prediction tools. In addition, STAT-Finder identified novel STAT3 target genes among a group of genes that are over-expressed in human cancer cells. The binding of STAT3 to the predicted TFBSs was also experimentally confirmed through chromatin immunoprecipitation. Our proposed method provides a systematic approach to the prediction of functional TFBSs that can be applied to other TFs.
PMCID: PMC2731854  PMID: 19730699
9.  Negative Feedback Regulation of RIG-I-Mediated Antiviral Signaling by Interferon-Induced ISG15 Conjugation▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;82(3):1474-1483.
RIG-I senses intracellular virus-specific nucleic acid structures and initiates an antiviral response that induces interferon (IFN) production, which, in turn, activates the transcription of RIG-I to increase RIG-I protein levels. Upon intracellular poly(I:C) stimulation, however, the levels of RIG-I protein did not correlate with the expression patterns of RIG-I transcripts. When the ISG15 conjugation system was overexpressed, ISG15 was conjugated to RIG-I and cellular levels of the unconjugated form of RIG-I decreased. The ISGylation of RIG-I reduced levels of both basal and virus-induced IFN promoter activity. Levels of unconjugated RIG-I also decreased when 26S proteasome activity was blocked by treatment with MG132, ALLN, or Lactacystin. In the presence of MG132, ISG15 conjugation to RIG-I increased, and hence, the unconjugated form of RIG-I was reduced. In Ube1L−/− cells, which lack the ability to conjugate ISG15, basal levels of both RIG-I protein and transcripts were increased compared to those in wild-type cells. As a result, enhanced production of ISGs and enhanced IFN promoter activity in Ube1L−/− cells were observed, and the phenotype was restored to that of wild-type cells by the overexpression of Ube1L. Based on these results, we propose a novel negative feedback loop which adjusts the strength of the RIG-I-mediated antiviral response and IFN production through the regulation of RIG-I protein by IFN-induced ISG15 conjugation.
PMCID: PMC2224411  PMID: 18057259

Results 1-9 (9)