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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Jan;1783(1):74-83. Epub 2007 Oct 4.

DNA-PK contributes to the phosphorylation of AIRE: importance in transcriptional activity.

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Molecular Pathology, University of Tartu, Tartu 50411, Estonia.


The autoimmune regulator (AIRE) protein is a key mediator of the central tolerance for tissue specific antigens and is involved in transcriptional control of many antigens in thymic medullary epithelial cells (mTEC). Mutations in the AIRE gene cause a rare disease named autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy (APECED). Here we report using GST pull-down assay, mass-spectrometry and co-immunoprecipitation that a heterotrimeric complex of DNA-Dependent Protein Kinase (DNA-PK), consisting of Ku70, Ku80 and DNA-PK catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs), is a novel interaction partner for AIRE. In vitro phosphorylation assays show that the residues Thr68 and Ser156 are DNA-PK phosphorylation sites in AIRE. In addition, we demonstrate that DNA-PKcs is expressed in AIRE positive mTEC cell population and that introduction of mutations into the AIRE phosphorylation sites decrease the capacity of AIRE to activate transcription from reporter promoters. In conclusion, our results suggest that phosphorylation of the AIRE protein at Thr68 and Ser156 by DNA-PK influences AIRE transactivation ability and might have impact on other aspects of the functional regulation of the AIRE protein.

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