The members of the TCF/LEF family of DNA-binding proteins are components of diverse gene regulatory networks. As nuclear effectors of Wnt/?-catenin signaling they act as assembly platforms for multimeric transcription complexes that either repress or activate gene expression. Previously, it was shown that several aspects of TCF/LEF protein function are regulated by post-translational modification. The association of TCF/LEF family members with acetyltransferases and deacetylases prompted us to investigate whether vertebrate TCF/LEF proteins are subject to acetylation. Through co-expression with p300 and CBP and subsequent analyses using mass spectrometry and immunodetection with anti-acetyl-lysine antibodies we show that TCF4 can be acetylated at lysine K??? by CBP. K??? acetylation is restricted to TCF4E splice variants and requires the simultaneous presence of ?-catenin and the unique TCF4E C-terminus. To examine the functional consequences of K??? acetylation we substituted K??? with amino acids representing the non-acetylated and acetylated states. Reporter gene assays based on Wnt/?-catenin-responsive promoter regions did not indicate a general role of K??? acetylation in transactivation by TCF4E. However, in the presence of CBP, non-acetylatable TCF4E with a K???R substitution was more susceptible to inhibition by the HBP-1 repressor protein compared to wild-type TCF4E. Acetylation of K??? using a bacterial expression system or amino acid substitutions at K??? alter the electrophoretic properties of TCF4E::DNA complexes. This result suggests that K??? acetylation leads to a conformational change that may also represent the mechanism whereby acetylated TCF4E acquires resistance against HBP1. In summary, TCF4 not only recruits acetyltransferases but is also a substrate for these enzymes. The fact that acetylation affects only a subset of TCF4 splice variants and is mediated preferentially by CBP suggests that the conditional acetylation of TCF4E is a novel regulatory mechanism that diversifies the transcriptional output of Wnt/?-catenin signaling in response to changing intracellular signaling milieus.
Alternative splicing can produce multiple protein products with variable domain composition from a single gene. The mouse Tcf7l2 gene is subject to alternative splicing. It encodes TCF4, a member of the T-cell factor (TCF) family of DNA-binding proteins and a nuclear interaction partner of beta-catenin which performs essential functions in Wnt growth factor signalling. Multiple TCF4 isoforms, potentially exhibiting cell-type-specific distribution and differing in gene regulatory properties, could strongly influence tissue-specific Wnt responses. Therefore, we have examined mouse Tcf7l2 splice variants in neonatal tissues, embryonic stem cells and neural progenitors. By polymerase chain reaction amplification, cloning and sequencing, we identify a large number of alternatively spliced transcripts and report a highly flexible combinatorial repertoire of alternative exons. Many, but not all of the variants exhibit a broad tissue distribution. Moreover, two functionally equivalent versions of the C-clamp, thought to represent an auxiliary DNA-binding domain, were identified. Depending upon promoter context and precise domain composition, TCF4 isoforms exhibit strikingly different transactivation potentials at natural Wnt/beta-catenin target promoters. However, differences in C-clamp-mediated DNA binding can only partially explain functional differences among TCF4 variants. Still, the cell-type-specific complement of TCF4 isoforms is likely to be a major determinant for the context-dependent transcriptional output of Wnt/beta-catenin signalling.
Dominant-negative interference by glycine substitution mutations in the COL7A1 gene causes dominant dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DDEB), a skin fragility disorder with mechanically induced blistering. Although qualitative and quantitative alterations of the COL7A1 gene product, collagen VII, underlie DDEB, the lack of direct correlation between mutations and the clinical phenotype has rendered DDEB less amenable to therapeutic targeting. To delineate the molecular mechanisms of DDEB, we used recombinant expression of wild-type (WT) and mutant collagen VII, which contained a naturally occurring COL7A1 mutation, G1776R, G2006D, or G2015E, for characterization of the triple helical molecules. The mutants were co-expressed with WT in equal amounts and could form heterotrimeric hybrid triple helices, as demonstrated by affinity purification and mass spectrometry. The thermal stability of the mutant molecules was strongly decreased, as evident in their sensitivity to trypsin digestion. The helix-to-coil transition, T(m), of the mutant molecules was 31-34 degrees C, and of WT collagen VII 41 degrees C. Co-expression of WT with G1776R- or G2006D-collagen VII resulted in partial intracellular retention of the collagen, and mutant collagen VII had reduced ability to support cell adhesion. Intriguingly, controlled overexpression of WT collagen VII gradually improved the thermal stability of the collective of collagen VII molecules. Co-expression in a ratio of 90% WT:10% mutant increased the T(m) to 41 degrees C for G1776R-collagen VII and to 39 degrees C for G2006D- and G2015E-collagen VII. Therefore, increasing the expression of WT collagen VII in the skin of patients with DDEB can be considered a valid therapeutic approach.
Brunsting-Perry pemphigoid is a rare subepidermal blistering disease characterized by scarring blisters on the head and neck. However, the identity of the responsible autoantigens is still unresolved.
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