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J Biol Chem. 1996 Nov 29;271(48):30847-57.

Sequential phosphorylation by mitogen-activated protein kinase and glycogen synthase kinase 3 represses transcriptional activation by heat shock factor-1.

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Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Joint Center for Radiation Therapy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Mammalian heat shock genes are regulated at the transcriptional level by heat shock factor-1 (HSF-1), a sequence-specific transcription factor. We have examined the role of serine phosphorylation of HSF-1 in the regulation of heat shock gene transcription. Our experiments show that mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) of the ERK-1 family phosphorylate HSF-1 on serine residues and repress the transcriptional activation of the heat shock protein 70B (HSP70B) promoter by HSF-1 in vivo. These effects of MAPK are transmitted through a specific serine residue (Ser-303) located in a proline-rich sequence within the transcriptional regulatory domain of human HSF-1. However, despite the importance of Ser-303 in transmitting the signal from the MAPK cascade to HSP70 transcription, there was no evidence that Ser-303 could be phosphorylated by MAPK in vitro, although an adjacent residue (Ser-307) was avidly phosphorylated by MAPK. Further studies revealed that Ser-303 is phosphorylated by glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) through a mechanism dependent on primary phosphorylation of Ser-307 by MAPK. Secondary phosphorylation of Ser-303 by GSK3 may thus repress the activity of HSF-1, and its requirement for priming by MAPK phosphorylation of Ser-307 provides a potential link between the MAPK cascade and HSF-1. Our experiments thus indicate that MAPK is a potent inhibitor of HSF-1 function and may be involved in repressing the heat shock response during normal growth and development and deactivating the heat shock response during recovery from stress.

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