Over the last several years, significant progress has been made in identifying chromatin-regulated events that govern NF-kappaB transcription. Using either laminin attachment or tumor necrosis factor alpha as a physiological stimulus of NF-kappaB activation, we demonstrate that IkappaB kinase alpha (IKKalpha) is recruited to chromatin in distinct phases. In the initial phase, IKKalpha is responsible for derepressing the silencing mediator for retinoic acid and thyroid hormone receptor (SMRT)-histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) corepressor complex from the p50 homodimer. However, in the latter phase, chromatin-bound IKKalpha coordinates the simultaneous phosphorylation of RelA/p65(S536) and SMRT(S2410) as detected by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays. Although phosphorylated SMRT remains bound to the active p50-RelA/p65 heterodimer of NF-kappaB, derepression of SMRT is evidenced by the loss of chromatin-associated HDAC3 activity. ChIP and re-ChIP analysis demonstrates that phosphorylation of RelA/p65(S536) and SMRT(S2410) occurs prior to acetylation of RelA/p65 at K310. Moreover, IKKalpha-induced phosphorylation of RelA/p65(S536) displaces corepressor activity, allowing p300-mediated acetylation of RelA/p65. Introduction of nonphosphorylatable mutants of RelA/p65 and SMRT proteins or the inhibition of IKK activity results in active repression of NF-kappaB promoters by tethering the SMRT-HDAC3 complex. Similar to phosphorylation within the Rel homology domain of RelA/p65, which governs an exchange of HDAC1 for CBP/p300 acetyltransferases, we demonstrate that phosphorylation within the transactivation domain of RelA/p65(S536) displaces SMRT-HDAC3 repressor activity, allowing p300 to acetylate RelA/p65.
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