Priority Research Papers:

Phosphorylation of Tip60 by p38α regulates p53-mediated PUMA induction and apoptosis in response to DNA damage

Yingxi Xu _, Rong Liao, Na Li, Rong Xiang and Peiqing Sun

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:12555-12572. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2717

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Yingxi Xu1,2, Rong Liao2, Na Li1, Rong Xiang1, Peiqing Sun2

1College of Medicine, Nankai University, Tianjin, P.R. China, 300071

2Departments of Cell and Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037

Correspondence to:

Peiqing Sun, e-mail: [email protected]

Rong Xiang, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: p38, Tip60, p53, PUMA, apoptosis

Received: September 16, 2014     Accepted: November 08, 2014     Published: December 10, 2014


Tip60 is a multifunctional acetyltransferase involved in multiple cellular functions. Acetylation of p53 at K120 by Tip60 promotes p53-mediated apoptosis after DNA damage. We previous showed that Tip60 activity is induced by phosphorylation at T158 by p38. In this study, we investigated the role of p38-mediated Tip60 phosphorylation in p53-mediated, DNA damage-induced apoptosis. We found that DNA damage induces p38 activation, Tip60-T158 phosphorylation, and p53-K120 acetylation with similar kinetics. p38α is essential for DNA damage-induced Tip60-T158 phosphorylation. In addition, both p38α and Tip60 are essential for p53-K120 acetylation, binding of p53 to PUMA promoter, PUMA expression and apoptosis induced by DNA damage. Moreover, DNA damage induces protein kinase activity of p38α towards Tip60-T158, and constitutive activation of p38 in cells leads to increases in Tip60-T158 phosphorylation, p53-K120 acetylation, PUMA expression and apoptosis. Furthermore, the Tip60-T158A mutant that cannot be phosphorylated by p38 fails to mediate p53-K120 acetylation, PUMA induction, and apoptosis following DNA damage. These results establish that Tip60-T158 phosphorylation by p38 plays an essential role in stimulating Tip60 activity required for inducing the p53-PUMA pathway that ultimately leads to apoptosis in response to DNA damage, which provides a mechanistic basis for the tumor-suppressing function of p38 and Tip60.

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