It is well documented that unliganded thyroid hormone receptor (TR) functions as a transcriptional repressor of specific cellular target genes by acting in concert with a corepressor complex harboring histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity. To fully explore the cofactors that interact with the transcriptionally repressive form of TR, we biochemically isolated a multiprotein complex that assembles on a TR.retinoid X receptor (RXR) heterodimer in HeLa nuclear extracts and identified its polypeptide components by mass spectrometry. A subset of TR.RXR-associated polypeptides included NCoR, SMRT, TBL1, and HDAC3, which represent the core components of a previously described NCoR/SMRT corepressor complex. We also identified several polypeptides that constitute a DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) enzyme complex, a regulator of DNA repair, recombination, and transcription. These polypeptides included the catalytic subunit DNA-PKcs, the regulatory subunits Ku70 and Ku86, and the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1. Density gradient fractionation and immunoprecipitation analyses provided evidence for the existence of a high molecular weight TR.RXR.corepressor holocomplex containing both NCoR/SMRT and DNA-PK complexes. Chromatin immunoprecipitation studies confirmed that unliganded TR.RXR recruits both complexes to the triiodothyronine-responsive region of growth hormone gene in vivo. Interestingly, DNA-PKcs, a member of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase family, was found to phosphorylate HDAC3 when the purified TR.RXR.corepressor holocomplex was incubated with ATP. This phosphorylation was accompanied by a significant enhancement of the HDAC activity of this complex. Collectively, our results indicated that DNA-PK promotes the establishment of a repressive chromatin at a TR target promoter by enhancing the HDAC activity of the receptor-bound NCoR/SMRT corepressor complex.
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