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PLoS Genet. 2013;9(2):e1003315. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003315. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

The Caenorhabditis elegans JNK signaling pathway activates expression of stress response genes by derepressing the Fos/HDAC repressor complex.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan.


MAP kinases are integral to the mechanisms by which cells respond to a wide variety of environmental stresses. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the KGB-1 JNK signaling pathway regulates the response to heavy metal stress. In this study, we identified FOS-1, a bZIP transcription factor, as a target of KGB-1-mediated phosphorylation. We further identified two transcriptional targets of the KGB-1 pathway, kreg-1 and kreg-2/lys-3, which are required for the defense against heavy metal stress. FOS-1 plays a critical role in the transcriptional repression of the kreg-1 gene by recruiting histone deacetylase (HDAC) to its promoter. KGB-1 phosphorylation prevents FOS-1 dimerization and promoter binding, resulting in promoter derepression. Thus, HDAC behaves as a co-repressor modulating FOS-1-mediated transcriptional regulation. This study describes the direct link from JNK signaling, Fos phosphorylation, and regulation of kreg gene transcription, which modulates the stress response in C. elegans.

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