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Nuclear cGMP-dependent kinase regulates gene expression via activity-dependent recruitment of a conserved histone deacetylase complex.

Elevation of the second messenger cGMP by nitric oxide (NO) activates the cGMP-dependent protein kinase PKG, which is key in regulating cardiovascular, intestinal, and neuronal functions in mammals. The NO-cGMP-PKG signaling pathway is also a major therapeutic target for cardiovascular and male reproductive diseases. Despite widespread effects of PKG activation, few molecular targets of PKG are known. We study how EGL-4, the Caenorhabditis elegans PKG ortholog, modulates foraging behavior and egg-laying and seeks the downstream effectors of EGL-4 activity. Using a combination of unbiased forward genetic screen and proteomic analysis, we have identified a conserved SAEG-1/SAEG-2/HDA-2 histone deacetylase complex that is specifically recruited by activated nuclear EGL-4. Gene expression profiling by microarrays revealed >40 genes that are sensitive to EGL-4 activity in a SAEG-1-dependent manner. We present evidence that EGL-4 controls egg laying via one of these genes, Y45F10C.2, which encodes a novel protein that is expressed exclusively in the uterine epithelium. Our results indicate that, in addition to cytoplasmic functions, active EGL-4/PKG acts in the nucleus via a conserved Class I histone deacetylase complex to regulate gene expression pertinent to behavioral and physiological responses to cGMP. We also identify transcriptional targets of EGL-4 that carry out discrete components of the physiological response.

Pubmed ID: 21573134


  • Hao Y
  • Xu N
  • Box AC
  • Schaefer L
  • Kannan K
  • Zhang Y
  • Florens L
  • Seidel C
  • Washburn MP
  • Wiegraebe W
  • Mak HY


PLoS genetics

Publication Data

May 16, 2011

Associated Grants


Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Cell Nucleus
  • Cyclic GMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Histone Deacetylases
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Protein Binding
  • Reproduction