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J Biol Chem. 2006 Mar 17;281(11):7489-97. Epub 2006 Jan 9.

Phosphorylation and transactivation of Pax6 by homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 2.

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Department of Biological Science, Sungkyunkwan University, 300 Chunchundong, Jangangu, Suwon 440-746, South Korea.


Pax6 is a transcriptional activator that contains two DNA binding domains and a potent transcription activation domain in the C terminus, which regulates organogenesis of the eye, nose, pancreas, and central nervous system. Homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 2 (HIPK2) interacts with transcription factors, including homeoproteins, and regulates activities of transcription factors. Here we show that HIPK2 phosphorylates the activation domain of Pax6, which augments Pax6 transactivation by enhancing its interaction with p300. Mass spectrometric analysis identified three Pax6 phosphorylation sites as threonines 281, 304, and 373. The substitutions of these threonines with alanines decreased Pax6 transactivation, whereas substitutions to glutamic acids increased transactivation in mimicry of phosphorylation. Furthermore, the knock-down of either endogenous or exogenous HIPK2 expression with HIPK2 shRNA markedly inhibited Pax6 phosphorylation and its transactivating function on proglucagon promoter in cultured cells. These results strongly indicate that HIPK2 is an upstream protein kinase for Pax6 and suggest that it modulates Pax6-mediated transcriptional regulation.

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