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Biochem Cell Biol. 2012 Feb;90(1):39-54. doi: 10.1139/o11-092. Epub 2012 Jan 17.

Histone H3 phosphorylation, immediate-early gene expression, and the nucleosomal response: a historical perspective.

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MB Institute of Cell Biology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3E 0V9, Canada.


Histone H3 is modified at serines 10 and 28 in interphase cells following activation of the RAS-MAPK or p38-MAPK pathways by growth factors or stress. These modifications are involved in the regulation of immediate-early genes, including Jun and Fos, whose increased expression is a trademark of various cancers. This review outlines the series of discoveries that led to the characterization of these modifications, the kinase, MSK1/2, which is activated by both MAPK pathways and directs phosphorylation of H3, and the mechanistic function of these modifications in transcriptional activation. Research examining the effect of deregulated MSK1/2 in human disorders, namely cancer, is evaluated. Recently, a number of reports proposed novel, intervening pathways leading to enrichment of phosphorylated serine 10 and 28 and the activation of MSK1/2. These novel pathways predict an even more complicated signalling mechanism for cell growth, apoptosis, and the immune response, suggesting that MSK1/2 is intrinsically responsible for an even greater number of biological processes. This review proposes that MSK1/2 is an optimal target for cancer therapy, based on its fundamental role in transmitting external signals into varied responses involved in cancer development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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