Phosphorylation of the RelA (p65) NF-kappaB (nuclear factor kappaB) subunit has been previously shown to modulate its ability to induce or repress transcription. In the present study we have investigated the consequences of Thr435 phosphorylation within the C-terminal transactivation domain of RelA. We confirm that Thr435 is phosphorylated in cells and is induced by TNFalpha (tumour necrosis factor alpha) treatment. Mutational analysis of this site revealed gene-specific effects on transcription, with a T435D phosphomimetic mutant significantly enhancing Cxcl2 (CXC chemokine ligand 2) mRNA levels in reconstituted Rela-/- mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that this mutation results in enhanced levels of histone acetylation associated with decreased recruitment of HDAC1 (histone deacetylase 1). Moreover, mutation of this site disrupted RelA interaction with HDAC1 in vitro. Thr435 phosphorylation of promoter-bound RelA was also detected at NF-kappaB target genes following TNFalpha treatment in wild-type mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Phosphorylation at this site therefore provides an additional mechanism through which the specificity of NF-kappaB transcriptional activity can be modulated in cells.
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