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Genes Dev. 1996 Nov 1;10(21):2782-93.

Repression of human heat shock factor 1 activity at control temperature by phosphorylation.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston 02114, USA.


Human heat shock transcription factor 1 (HSF1) is responsible for stress-induced transcription of heat shock protein genes. The activity of the HSF1 transcriptional activation domains is modulated by a separate regulatory domain, which confers repression at control temperature and heat inducibility. We show here that two specific proline-directed serine motifs are important for function of the regulatory domain: Mutation of these serines to alanine derepresses HSF1 activity at control temperature, and mutation to glutamic acid, mimicking a phosphorylated serine, results in normal repression at control temperature and normal heat shock inducibility. Tryptic mapping shows that these serines are the major phosphorylation sites of HSF1 at control temperature in vivo. Stimulation of the Raf/ERK pathway in vivo results in an increased level of phosphorylation of these major sites and the regulatory domain is an excellent substrate in vitro for the mitogen-activated MAPK/ERK. We conclude that phosphorylation of the regulatory domain of HSF1 decreases the activity of HSF1 at control temperature, and propose a mechanism for modification of HSF1 activity by growth control signals.

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