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Mol Cell. 2001 Oct;8(4):807-16.

C/EBPbeta phosphorylation by RSK creates a functional XEXD caspase inhibitory box critical for cell survival.

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Molecular Biology and Virology Laboratory, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Upon activation by liver injury, hepatic stellate cells produce excessive fibrous tissue leading to cirrhosis. The hepatotoxin CCl(4) induced activation of RSK, phosphorylation of C/EBPbeta on Thr(217), and proliferation of stellate cells in normal mice, but caused apoptosis of these cells in C/EBPbeta-/- or C/EBPbeta-Ala(217) (a dominant-negative nonphosphorylatable mutant) transgenic mice. Both C/EBPbeta-PThr(217) and the phosphorylation mimic C/EBPbeta-Glu(217), but not C/EBPbeta-Ala(217), were associated with procaspases 1 and 8 in vivo and in vitro and inhibited their activation. Our data suggest that C/EBPbeta phosphorylation on Thr(217) creates a functional XEXD caspase substrate/inhibitor box (K-Phospho-T(217)VD) that is mimicked by C/EBPbeta-Glu(217) (KE(217)VD). C/EBPbeta-/- and C/EBPbeta-Ala(217) stellate cells were rescued from apoptosis by the cell permeant KE(217)VD tetrapeptide or C/EBPbeta-Glu(217).

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