The myocardin-related transcription factors (MRTF-A and MRTF-B) regulate cytoskeletal genes through their partner transcription factor SRF. The MRTFs bind G-actin, and signal-regulated changes in cellular G-actin concentration control their nuclear accumulation. The MRTFs also undergo Rho- and ERK-dependent phosphorylation, but the function of MRTF phosphorylation, and the elements and signals involved in MRTF-A nuclear export are largely unexplored. We show that Rho-dependent MRTF-A phosphorylation reflects relief from an inhibitory function of nuclear actin. We map multiple sites of serum-induced phosphorylation, most of which are S/T-P motifs, and show that S/T-P phosphorylation is required for transcriptional activation. ERK-mediated S98 phosphorylation inhibits assembly of G-actin complexes on the MRTF-A regulatory RPEL domain, promoting nuclear import. In contrast, S33 phosphorylation potentiates the activity of an autonomous Crm1-dependent N-terminal NES, which cooperates with five other NES elements to exclude MRTF-A from the nucleus. Phosphorylation thus plays positive and negative roles in regulation of MRTF-A.
- Roger J Davis, University of Massachusetts Medical School, United States
© 2016, Panayiotou et al.
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