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Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Dec;27(23):8152-63. Epub 2007 Aug 27.

Thioredoxin and TRAF family proteins regulate reactive oxygen species-dependent activation of ASK1 through reciprocal modulation of the N-terminal homophilic interaction of ASK1.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cell Signaling, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


Apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1), a member of the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase family, plays pivotal roles in reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced cellular responses. In resting cells, endogenous ASK1 constitutively forms a homo-oligomerized but still inactive high-molecular-mass complex including thioredoxin (Trx), which we designated the ASK1 signalosome. Upon ROS stimulation, the ASK1 signalosome unbinds from Trx and forms a fully activated higher-molecular-mass complex, in part by recruitment of tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 2 (TRAF2) and TRAF6. However, the precise mechanisms by which Trx inhibits and TRAF2 and TRAF6 activate ASK1 have not been elucidated fully. Here we demonstrate that the N-terminal homophilic interaction of ASK1 through the N-terminal coiled-coil domain is required for ROS-dependent activation of ASK1. Trx inhibited this interaction of ASK1, which was, however, enhanced by expression of TRAF2 or TRAF6 or by treatment of cells with H2O2. Furthermore, the H2O2-induced interaction was reduced by double knockdown of TRAF2 and TRAF6. These findings demonstrate that Trx, TRAF2, and TRAF6 regulate ASK1 activity by modulating N-terminal homophilic interaction of ASK1.

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