Article

Cdk9 T-loop phosphorylation is regulated by the calcium signaling pathway

Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.
Journal of Cellular Physiology (Impact Factor: 3.87). 02/2012; 227(2):609-17. DOI: 10.1002/jcp.22760
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Eukaryotic RNA polymerase II transcriptional elongation is a tightly regulated process and is dependent upon positive transcription elongation factor-b (P-TEFb). The core P-TEFb complex is composed of Cdk9 and Cyclin T and is essential for the expression of most protein coding genes. Cdk9 kinase function is dependent upon phosphorylation of Thr186 in its T-loop. In this study, we examined kinases and signaling pathways that influence Cdk9 T-loop phosphorylation. Using an RNAi screen in HeLa cells, we found that Cdk9 T-loop phosphorylation is regulated by Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent kinase 1D (CaMK1D). Using small molecules inhibitors in HeLa cells and primary CD4(+) T lymphocytes, we found that the Ca(2+) signaling pathway is required for Cdk9 T-loop phosphorylation. Inhibition of Ca(2+) signaling led to dephosphorylation of Thr186 on Cdk9. In reporter plasmid assays, inhibition of the Ca(2+) signaling pathway repressed the PCNA promoter and HIV-1 Tat transactivation of the HIV-1 LTR, but not HTLV-1 Tax transactivation of the HTLV-1 LTR, suggesting that perturbation of the Ca(2+) pathway and reduction of Cdk9 T-loop phosphorylation inhibits transcription units that have a rigorous requirement for P-TEFb function.

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