TCR signaling leading to thymocyte apoptosis is mediated through the expression of the Nur77 family of orphan nuclear receptors. MEF2 has been shown to be the major transcription factor responsible for calcium-dependent Nur77 transcription. Cabin1 was recently identified as a transcriptional repressor of MEF2, which can be released from MEF2 in a calcium-dependent fashion. The molecular basis of repression of MEF2 by Cabin1, however, has remained unknown. We report that Cabin1 represses MEF2 by two distinct mechanisms. Cabin1 recruits mSin3 and its associated histone deacetylases 1 and 2; Cabin1 also competes with p300 for binding to MEF2. Thus, activation of MEF2 and the consequent transcription of Nur77 are controlled by the association of MEF2 with the histone deacetylases via the calcium-dependent repressor Cabin1.
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