Stress induced gene expression: a direct role for MAPKAP kinases in transcriptional activation of immediate early genes.
ABSTRACT: Immediate early gene (IEG) expression is coordinated by multiple MAP kinase signaling pathways in a signal specific manner. Stress-activated p38? MAP kinase is implicated in transcriptional regulation of IEGs via MSK-mediated CREB phosphorylation. The protein kinases downstream to p38, MAPKAP kinase (MK) 2 and MK3 have been identified to regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional levels of mRNA stability and translation. Here, we analyzed stress-induced IEG expression in MK2/3-deficient cells. Ablation of MKs causes a decrease of p38? level and p38-dependent IEG expression. Unexpectedly, restoration of p38? does not rescue the full-range IEG response. Instead, the catalytic activity of MKs is necessary for the major transcriptional activation of IEGs. By transcriptomics, we identified MK2-regulated genes and recognized the serum response element (SRE) as a common promoter element. We show that stress-induced phosphorylation of serum response factor (SRF) at serine residue 103 is significantly reduced and that induction of SRE-dependent reporter activity is impaired and can only be rescued by catalytically active MK2 in MK2/3-deficient cells. Hence, a new function of MKs in transcriptional activation of IEGs via the p38?-MK2/3-SRF-axis is proposed which probably cooperates with MKs' role in posttranscriptional gene expression in inflammation and stress response.
Project description:Myocardin-related transcription factor A (MRTF-A) is a known actin-regulated transcriptional coactivator of serum response factor (SRF). Stimulation of actin polymerization activates MRTF-A by releasing it from G-actin and thus allowing it to bind to and activate SRF. Here, we compared protein phosphorylation in MK2/3-deficient cells rescued or not by ectopic expression of MK2 in two independent phosphoproteomic approaches using anisomycin-treated MEF cells and LPS-stimulated mouse macrophages, respectively. Two MRTF-A sites, Ser(351) (corresponding to Ser(312) in human) and Ser(371) (Ser(333) in human), showed significantly stronger phosphorylation (12-fold and 6-fold increase) in the cells expressing MK2. MRTF-A is phosphorylated at these sites in a stress-, but not in a mitogen-induced manner, and p38(MAPK)/MK2 catalytic activities are indispensable for this phosphorylation. MK2-mediated phosphorylation of MRTF-A at Ser(312) and Ser(333) was further confirmed in an in vitro kinase assay and using the phospho-protein kinase-D (PKD)-consensus motif antibody (anti-LXRXXpS/pT), the p38(MAPK) inhibitor BIRB-796, MK2/3-deficient cells and MRTF-A phospho-site mutants. Unexpectedly, dimerization, subcellular localization and translocation, interaction with actin, SRF or SMAD3 and transactivating potential of MRTF-A seem to be unaffected by manipulating the p38(MAPK)/MK2-dependent phosphorylations. Hence, MRTF-A is stress-dependently phosphorylated by MK2 at Ser(312) and Ser(333) with so far undetected functional and physiological consequences.
Project description:In the mammalian hippocampus, changes in the expression of immediate early genes (IEGs) is thought to contribute to long term plastic changes in neurons brought about by learning tasks and high frequency stimulation of synapses. The phosphatase calcineurin has emerged as an important negative regulator of hippocampus-dependent learning and long term potentiation. Here we investigated the possibility that the constraining action of calcineurin on hippocampal plasticity is mediated in part by regulation of gene expression through negative control of transcription factors, such as cAMP-response element (CRE)-binding protein (CREB). We assessed the effect of calcineurin inhibitors on CREB activation by neuronal activity and show that calcineurin activity is in fact required for CREB-mediated gene expression. However, inhibition of calcineurin had disparate effects on the transcriptional induction of CREB-dependent IEGs. We find that the IEG c-fos is unaffected by suppression of calcineurin activity, the plasticity-related genes Egr1/Zif268 and Egr2/Krox-20 are up-regulated, and genes encoding the orphan nuclear hormone receptors Nor1 and Nur77 are down-regulated. We further show that the up-regulation of particular IEGs is probably due to the presence of serum response elements (SREs) in their promoters, because SRE-mediated gene expression is enhanced by calcineurin blockers. Moreover, expression of the c-fos gene, which is unaffected by calcineurin inhibitors, could be down-regulated by mutating the SRE. Conversely, SRE-mediated c-fos induction in the absence of a functional CRE was enhanced by calcineurin inhibitors. Our experiments thus implicate calcineurin as a negative regulator of SRE-dependent neuronal genes.
Project description:A hallmark of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is hippocampal neuronal demise and aberrant mossy fiber sprouting. In addition, unrestrained neuronal activity in TLE patients induces gene expression including immediate early genes (IEGs) such as Fos and Egr1.We employed the mouse pilocarpine model to analyze the transcription factor (TF) serum response factor (SRF) in epileptogenesis, seizure induced histopathology and IEG induction. SRF is a neuronal activity regulated TF stimulating IEG expression as well as nerve fiber growth and guidance. Adult conditional SRF deficient mice (Srf CaMKCreERT2 ) were more refractory to initial status epilepticus (SE) acquisition. Further, SRF deficient mice developed more spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRS). Genome-wide transcriptomic analysis uncovered a requirement of SRF for SE and SRS induced IEG induction (e.g. Fos, Egr1, Arc, Npas4, Btg2, Atf3). SRF was required for epilepsy associated neurodegeneration, mossy fiber sprouting and inflammation. We uncovered MAP kinase signaling as SRF target during epilepsy. Upon SRF ablation, seizure evoked induction of dual specific phosphatases (Dusp5 and Dusp6) was reduced. Lower expression of these negative ERK kinase regulators correlated with altered P-ERK levels in epileptic Srf mutant animals.Overall, this study uncovered an SRF contribution to several processes of epileptogenesis in the pilocarpine model.
Project description:Following genotoxic stress, cells activate a complex kinase-based signaling network to arrest the cell cycle and initiate DNA repair. p53-defective tumor cells rewire their checkpoint response and become dependent on the p38/MK2 pathway for survival after DNA damage, despite a functional ATR-Chk1 pathway. We used functional genetics to dissect the contributions of Chk1 and MK2 to checkpoint control. We show that nuclear Chk1 activity is essential to establish a G(2)/M checkpoint, while cytoplasmic MK2 activity is critical for prolonged checkpoint maintenance through a process of posttranscriptional mRNA stabilization. Following DNA damage, the p38/MK2 complex relocalizes from nucleus to cytoplasm where MK2 phosphorylates hnRNPA0, to stabilize Gadd45? mRNA, while p38 phosphorylates and releases the translational inhibitor TIAR. In addition, MK2 phosphorylates PARN, blocking Gadd45? mRNA degradation. Gadd45? functions within a positive feedback loop, sustaining the MK2-dependent cytoplasmic sequestration of Cdc25B/C to block mitotic entry in the presence of unrepaired DNA damage. Our findings demonstrate a critical role for the MK2 pathway in the posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression as part of the DNA damage response in cancer cells.
Project description:Profound induction of immediate early genes (IEGs) by neural activation is a critical determinant for plasticity in the brain, but intervening molecular signals are not well characterized. We demonstrate that inositol polyphosphate multikinase (IPMK) acts noncatalytically as a transcriptional coactivator to mediate induction of numerous IEGs. IEG induction by electroconvulsive stimulation is virtually abolished in the brains of IPMK-deleted mice, which also display deficits in spatial memory. Neural activity stimulates binding of IPMK to the histone acetyltransferase CBP and enhances its recruitment to IEG promoters. Interestingly, IPMK regulation of CBP recruitment and IEG induction does not require its catalytic activities. Dominant-negative constructs, which prevent IPMK-CBP binding, substantially decrease IEG induction. As IPMK is ubiquitously expressed, its epigenetic regulation of IEGs may influence diverse nonneural and neural biologic processes.
Project description:The induction of immediate-early gene (IEG) expression in brain nuclei in response to an experience is necessary for the formation of long-term memories. Additionally, the rapid dynamics of IEG induction and decay motivates the common use of IEG expression as markers for identification of neuronal assemblies ("ensembles") encoding recent experience. However, major gaps remain in understanding the rules governing the distribution of IEGs within neuronal assemblies. Thus, the extent of correlation between coexpressed IEGs, the cell specificity of IEG expression, and the spatial distribution of IEG expression have not been comprehensively studied. To address these gaps, we utilized quantitative multiplexed single-molecule fluorescence in situ hybridization (smFISH) and measured the expression of IEGs (<i>Arc</i>, <i>Egr2</i>, and <i>Nr4a1</i>) within spiny projection neurons (SPNs) in the dorsal striatum of mice following acute exposure to cocaine. Exploring the relevance of our observations to other brain structures and stimuli, we also analyzed data from a study of single-cell RNA sequencing of mouse cortical neurons. We found that while IEG expression is graded, the expression of multiple IEGs is tightly correlated at the level of individual neurons. Interestingly, we observed that region-specific rules govern the induction of IEGs in SPN subtypes within striatal subdomains. We further observed that IEG-expressing assemblies form spatially defined clusters within which the extent of IEG expression correlates with cluster size. Together, our results suggest the existence of IEG-expressing neuronal "superensembles," which are associated in spatial clusters and characterized by coherent and robust expression of multiple IEGs.
Project description:Developing male germ cells are exquisitely sensitive to environmental insults such as heat and oxidative stress. An additional characteristic of these cells is their unique dependence on RNA-binding proteins for regulating posttranscriptional gene expression and translational control. Here we provide a mechanistic link unifying these two features. We show that the germ cell-specific RNA-binding protein deleted in azoospermia-like (Dazl) is phosphorylated by MAPKAP kinase 2 (MK2), a stress-induced protein kinase activated downstream of p38 MAPK. We demonstrate that phosphorylation of Dazl by MK2 on an evolutionarily conserved serine residue inhibits its interaction with poly(A)-binding protein, resulting in reduced translation of Dazl-regulated target RNAs. We further show that transgenic expression of wild-type human Dazl but not a phosphomimetic form in the Drosophila male germline can restore fertility to flies deficient in boule, the Drosophila orthologue of human Dazl. These results illuminate a novel role for MK2 in spermatogenesis, expand the repertoire of RNA-binding proteins phosphorylated by this kinase, and suggest that signaling by the p38-MK2 pathway is a negative regulator of spermatogenesis via phosphorylation of Dazl.
Project description:Three Homer genes regulate the activity of metabotropic glutamate receptors mGluR1a and mGluR5 and their coupling to releasable intracellular Ca2+ pools and ion channels. Only the Homer 1 gene evolved bimodal expression of constitutive (Homer 1b and c) and immediate early gene (IEG) products (Homer 1a and Ania 3). The IEG forms compete functionally with the constitutive Homer proteins. The complex expression of the Homer 1 gene, unique for IEGs, focused our attention on the gene organization. In contrast to most IEGs, which have genes that are <5 kb, the Homer 1 gene was found to span approximately 100 kb. The constitutive Homer 1b/c forms are encoded by exons 1-10, whereas the IEG forms are encoded by exons 1-5 and parts of intron 5. RNase protection demonstrated a >10-fold activity-dependent increase in mRNA levels exclusively for the IEG forms. Moreover, fluorescent in situ hybridization documented that new primary Homer 1 transcripts are induced in neuronal nuclei within a few minutes after seizure, typical of IEGs, and that Homer 1b-specific exons are excluded from the activity-induced transcripts. Thus, at the resting state of the neurons, the entire gene is constitutively transcribed at low levels to yield Homer 1b/c transcripts. Neuronal activity sharply increases the rate of transcription initiation, with most transcripts now ending within the central intron. These coordinate transcriptional events rapidly convert a constitutive gene to an IEG and regulate the expression of functionally different Homer 1 proteins.
Project description:How cells convert the duration of signals into differential adaptation of gene expression is a poorly understood issue. Signal-induced immediate-early gene (IEG) expression couples early signals to late expression of downstream <target> genes. Here we study how kinetic features of the IEG-<target> system allow temporal integration of stimuli in a pancreatic beta cell model of metabolic stimulation. Gene expression profiling revealed that beta cells produce drastically different transcriptional outputs in response to different stimuli durations. Noteworthy, most genes (87%) regulated by a sustained stimulation (4 h) were not regulated by a transient stimulation (1 h followed by 3 h without stimulus). We analyzed the induction kinetics of several previously identified IEGs and <targets>. IEG expression persisted as long as stimulation was maintained, but was rapidly lost upon stimuli removal, abolishing the delayed <target> induction. The molecular mechanisms coupling the duration of stimuli to quantitative <target> transcription were demonstrated for the AP-1 transcription factor. In conclusion, we propose that the network composed of IEGs and their <targets> dynamically functions to convert signal inputs of different durations into quantitative differences in global transcriptional adaptation. These findings provide a novel and more comprehensive view of dynamic gene regulation.
Project description:Cell signaling networks coordinate specific patterns of protein expression in response to external cues, yet the logic by which signaling pathway activity determines the eventual abundance of target proteins is complex and poorly understood. Here, we describe an approach for simultaneously controlling the Ras/Erk pathway and monitoring a target gene's transcription and protein accumulation in single live cells. We apply our approach to dissect how Erk activity is decoded by immediate early genes (IEGs). We find that IEG transcription decodes Erk dynamics through a shared band-pass filtering circuit; repeated Erk pulses transcribe IEGs more efficiently than sustained Erk inputs. However, despite highly similar transcriptional responses, each IEG exhibits dramatically different protein-level accumulation, demonstrating a high degree of post-transcriptional regulation by combinations of multiple pathways. Our results demonstrate that the Ras/Erk pathway is decoded by both dynamic filters and logic gates to shape target gene responses in a context-specific manner.