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1.  A Cytoplasmic Negative Regulator Isoform of ATF7 Impairs ATF7 and ATF2 Phosphorylation and Transcriptional Activity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23351.
Alternative splicing and post-translational modifications are processes that give rise to the complexity of the proteome. The nuclear ATF7 and ATF2 (activating transcription factor) are structurally homologous leucine zipper transcription factors encoded by distinct genes. Stress and growth factors activate ATF2 and ATF7 mainly via sequential phosphorylation of two conserved threonine residues in their activation domain. Distinct protein kinases, among which mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK), phosphorylate ATF2 and ATF7 first on Thr71/Thr53 and next on Thr69/Thr51 residues respectively, resulting in transcriptional activation. Here, we identify and characterize a cytoplasmic alternatively spliced isoform of ATF7. This variant, named ATF7-4, inhibits both ATF2 and ATF7 transcriptional activities by impairing the first phosphorylation event on Thr71/Thr53 residues. ATF7-4 indeed sequesters the Thr53-phosphorylating kinase in the cytoplasm. Upon stimulus-induced phosphorylation, ATF7-4 is poly-ubiquitinated and degraded, enabling the release of the kinase and ATF7/ATF2 activation. Our data therefore conclusively establish that ATF7-4 is an important cytoplasmic negative regulator of ATF7 and ATF2 transcription factors.
PMCID: PMC3156760  PMID: 21858082
2.  Sumoylation delays the ATF7 transcription factor subcellular localization and inhibits its transcriptional activity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(4):1134-1144.
Over the past few years, small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) modification has emerged as an important regulator of diverse pathways and activities including protein localization and transcriptional regulation. We identified a consensus sumoylation motif (IKEE), located within the N-terminal activation domain of the ATF7 transcription factor and thus investigated the role of this modification. ATF7 is a ubiquitously expressed transcription factor, homologous to ATF2, that binds to CRE elements within specific promoters. This protein is able to heterodimerize with Jun or Fos proteins and its transcriptional activity is mediated by interaction with TAF12, a subunit of the general transcription factor TFIID. In the present article, we demonstrate that ATF7 is sumoylated in vitro (using RanBP2 as a E3-specific ligase) and in vivo. Moreover, we show that ATF7 sumoylation affects its intranuclear localization by delaying its entry into the nucleus. Furthermore, SUMO conjugation inhibits ATF7 transactivation activity by (i) impairing its association with TAF12 and (ii) blocking its binding-to-specific sequences within target promoters.
PMCID: PMC1851647  PMID: 17264123
3.  Distinct regions of RPB11 are required for heterodimerization with RPB3 in human and yeast RNA polymerase II 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(11):3582-3590.
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, RNA polymerase II assembly is probably initiated by the formation of the RPB3–RPB11 heterodimer. RPB3 is encoded by a single copy gene in the yeast, mouse and human genomes. The RPB11 gene is also unique in yeast and mouse, but in humans a gene family has been identified that potentially encodes several RPB11 proteins differing mainly in their C-terminal regions. We compared the abilities of both yeast and human proteins to heterodimerize. We show that the yeast RPB3/RPB11 heterodimer critically depends on the presence of the C-terminal region of RPB11. In contrast, the human heterodimer tolerates significant changes in RPB11 C-terminus, allowing two human RPB11 variants to heterodimerize with the same efficiency with RPB3. In keeping with this observation, the interactions between the conserved N-terminal ‘α-motifs’ is much more important for heterodimerization of the human subunits than for those in yeast. These data indicate that the heterodimerization interfaces have been modified during the course of evolution to allow a recent diversification of the human RPB11 subunits that remains compatible with heterodimerization with RPB3.
PMCID: PMC1159119  PMID: 15987790
4.  A human RNA polymerase II subunit is encoded by a recently generated multigene family 
The sequences encoding the yeast RNA polymerase II (RPB) subunits are single copy genes.
While those characterized so far for the human (h) RPB are also unique, we show that hRPB subunit 11 (hRPB11) is encoded by a multigene family, mapping on chromosome 7 at loci p12, q11.23 and q22. We focused on two members of this family, hRPB11a and hRPB11b: the first encodes subunit hRPB11a, which represents the major RPB11 component of the mammalian RPB complex ; the second generates polypeptides hRPB11bα and hRPB11bβ through differential splicing of its transcript and shares homologies with components of the hPMS2L multigene family related to genes involved in mismatch-repair functions (MMR). Both hRPB11a and b genes are transcribed in all human tissues tested. Using an inter-species complementation assay, we show that only hRPB11bα is functional in yeast. In marked contrast, we found that the unique murine homolog of RPB11 gene maps on chromosome 5 (band G), and encodes a single polypeptide which is identical to subunit hRPB11a.
The type hRPB11b gene appears to result from recent genomic recombination events in the evolution of primates, involving sequence elements related to the MMR apparatus.
PMCID: PMC61041  PMID: 11747469
5.  Functional Analysis of Adenovirus Protein IX Identifies Domains Involved in Capsid Stability, Transcriptional Activity, and Nuclear Reorganization 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(15):7131-7141.
The product of adenovirus (Ad) type 5 gene IX (pIX) is known to actively participate in the stability of the viral icosahedron, acting as a capsid cement. We have previously demonstrated that pIX is also a transcriptional activator of several viral and cellular TATA-containing promoters, likely contributing to the transactivation of the Ad expression program. By extensive mutagenesis, we have now delineated the functional domains involved in each of the pIX properties: residues 22 to 26 of the highly conserved N-terminal domain are crucial for incorporation of the protein into the virion; specific residues of the C-terminal leucine repeat are responsible for pIX interactions with itself and possibly other proteins, a property that is critical for pIX transcriptional activity. We also show that pIX takes part in the virus-induced nuclear reorganization of late infected cells: the protein induces, most likely through self-assembly, the formation of specific nuclear structures which appear as dispersed nuclear globules by immunofluorescence staining and as clear amorphous spherical inclusions by electron microscopy. The integrity of the leucine repeat appears to be essential for the formation and nuclear retention of these inclusions. Together, our results demonstrate the multifunctional nature of pIX and provide new insights into Ad biology.
PMCID: PMC114442  PMID: 11435594
6.  Leukemia Inhibitory Factor–dependent Transcriptional Activation in Embryonic Stem Cells  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1997;138(6):1207-1217.
STAT transcription factors are induced by a number of growth factors and cytokines. Within minutes of induction, the STAT proteins are phosphorylated on tyrosine and serine residues and translocated to the nucleus, where they bind to their DNA targets. The leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) mediates pleiotropic and sometimes opposite effects both in vivo and in cultured cells. It is known, for example, to prevent differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells in vitro. To get insights into LIF-regulated signaling in ES cells, we have analyzed protein-binding and transcriptional properties of STAT recognition sites in ES cells cultivated in the presence and in the absence of LIF. We have detected a specific LIF-regulated DNA-binding activity implicating the STAT3 protein. We show that STAT3 phosphorylation is essential for this LIF-dependent DNA-binding activity. The possibility that ERK2 or a closely related protein kinase, whose activity is modulated in a LIF-dependent manner, contributes to this phosphorylation is discussed. Finally, we show that the multimerized STAT3-binding DNA element confers LIF responsiveness to a minimal thymidine kinase promoter. This, together with our observation that overexpression of STAT3 dominant-negative mutants abrogates this LIF responsiveness, clearly indicates that STAT3 is involved in LIF-regulated transcriptional events in ES cells. Finally, stable expression of such a dominant negative mutant of STAT3 induces morphological differentiation of ES cells despite continuous LIF supply. Our results suggest that STAT3 is a critical target of the LIF signaling pathway, which maintains pluripotent cell proliferation.
PMCID: PMC2132559  PMID: 9298977
The Journal of Cell Biology  1974;63(3):831-842.
α-Amanitin acts in vitro as a selective inhibitor of the nucleoplasmic form B RNA polymerases. Treatment of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells with this drug leads principally to a severe fragmentation of the nucleoli. While the ultrastructural lesions induced by α-amanitin in CHO cells and in rat or mouse liver are quite similar, the results diverge concerning the effect on RNA synthesis. It has been shown that in rat or mouse liver α-amanitin blocks both extranucleolar and nucleolar RNA synthesis. Our autoradiographic and biochemical evidence indicates that in CHO cells high molecular weight extranucleolar RNA synthesis (HnRNA) is blocked by the α-amanitin treatment, whereas nucleolar RNA (preribosomal RNA) synthesis remains unaffected even several hours after the inhibition of extranucleolar RNA synthesis. Furthermore, the processing of this RNA as well as its transport to the cytoplasm seem only slightly affected by the treatment. Finally, under these conditions, the synthesis of the low molecular RNA species (4–5S) still occurs, though less actively. The results are interpreted as evidence for a selective impairment of HnRNA synthesis by α-amanitin in CHO cells.
PMCID: PMC2109362  PMID: 4474178

Results 1-7 (7)