[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding and controlling the mechanism by which stem cells balance self-renewal versus differentiation is of great importance for stem cell therapeutics. Klf4 promotes the self-renewal of embryonic stem cells, but the precise mechanism regulating this role of Klf4 is unclear. We found that ERK1 or ERK2 binds the activation domain of Klf4 and directly phosphorylates Klf4 at Ser123. This phosphorylation suppresses Klf4 activity, inducing embryonic stem cell differentiation. Conversely, inhibition of Klf4 phosphorylation enhances Klf4 activity and suppresses embryonic stem cell differentiation. Notably, phosphorylation of Klf4 by ERKs causes recruitment and binding of the F-box proteins βTrCP1 or βTrCP2 (components of an ubiquitin E3 ligase) to the Klf4 N-terminal domain, which results in Klf4 ubiquitination and degradation. Overall, our data provide a molecular basis for the role of ERK1 and ERK2 in regulating Klf4-mediated mouse embryonic stem cell self-renewal.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Somatic cells can be reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by transduction of reprogramming factors, including Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc. A coordinated network of these factors was suggested to confer a pluripotency of iPSCs. Together with Oct4, Sox2 plays a major role as a master regulator in ESCs. However, the underlying mechanisms by which Sox2 contributes to self-renewal or reprogramming processes remain to be determined. Here, we provide new evidence for a phosphorylation-based regulation of Sox2 activity. Akt directly interacts with Sox2 and promotes its stabilization through phosphorylation at Thr118, which enhances the transcriptional activity of Sox2 in ESCs. Moreover, phosphorylation of Sox2 cooperates in the reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblasts by enabling more efficient induction of iPSCs. Overall, our studies provide new insights into the regulatory mechanism of Sox2 in ESCs and also provide a direct link between phosphorylation events and somatic cell reprogramming.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MST1 (mammalian STE20-like kinase 1) is a serine/threonine kinase that is cleaved and activated by caspases during apoptosis. Overexpression of MST1 induces apoptotic morphological changes such as chromatin condensation, but the mechanism is not clear. Here we show that MST1 induces apoptotic chromatin condensation through its phosphorylation of histone H2AX at Ser-139. During etoposide-induced apoptosis in Jurkat cells, the cleavage of MST1 directly corresponded with strong H2AX phosphorylation. In vitro kinase assay results showed that MST1 strongly phosphorylates histone H2AX. Western blot and kinase assay results with a mutant S139A H2AX confirmed that MST1 phosphorylates H2AX at Ser-139. Direct binding of MST1 and H2AX can be detected when co-expressed in HEK293 cells and was also confirmed by an endogenous immunoprecipitation study. When overexpressed in HeLa cells, both the MST1 full-length protein and the MST1 kinase domain (MST1-NT), but not the kinase-negative mutant (MST1-NT-KN), could induce obvious endogenous histone H2AX phosphorylation. The caspase-3 inhibitor benzyloxycarbonyl-DEVD-fluoromethyl ketone (Z-DEVD-fmk) attenuates phosphorylation of H2AX by MST1 but cannot inhibit MST1-NT-induced histone H2AX phosphorylation, indicating that cleaved MST1 is responsible for H2AX phosphorylation during apoptosis. Histone H2AX phosphorylation and DNA fragmentation were suppressed in MST1 knockdown Jurkat cells after etoposide treatment. Taken together, our data indicated that H2AX is a substrate of MST1, which functions to induce apoptotic chromatin condensation and DNA fragmentation.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 10/2010; 285(50):39108-16. · 4.65 Impact Factor