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The RAX/PACT-PKR stress response pathway promotes p53 sumoylation and activation, leading to G(1) arrest.

Bennett R.L., Pan Y., Christian J., Hui T., May W.S. Jr.

Cellular stresses, including growth factor deprivation, inflammatory cytokines or viral infection promote RAX/PACT-dependent activation of the double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase, PKR, to phosphorylate eIF2α, resulting in translation inhibition and apoptosis. In addition, PKR has been reported to regulate p53, STAT1 and NFκB. Here, we report that RAX/PACT interacts with the SUMO E2 ligase Ubc9 to stimulate p53-Ubc9 association and reversible p53 sumoylation on lysine 386. In addition, expression of RAX/PACT in a variety of cell lines promotes p53 stability and activity to increase p53 target gene expression. Significantly, while the expression of RAX/PACT, PKR or p53 alone has little effect on the cell cycle of p53-null H1299 cells, co-expression of p53 with either RAX/PACT or PKR promotes a 25-35% increase of cells in G₁. In contrast, co-expression of RAX/PACT with the sumoylation-deficient p53(K386R) mutant or with the desumoylase SENP1 fails to induce such a G₁ arrest. Furthermore, co-expression of p53, RAX/PACT and the dominantnegative PKR(K296R) mutant inhibits RAX/PACT-induced, p53-dependent G₁ growth arrest and expression of RAX/PACT in pkr(+/+) but not pkr(-/-) MEF cells promotes p53 and p21 expression following gamma irradiation. Significantly, p53 stability is decreased in cells with reduced RAX/PACT or PKR following doxorubicin treatment, and expression of exogenous RAX/ PACT promotes phosphorylation of wild-type but not p53(K386R) on serine 392. Collectively, results indicate that, in response to stress, the RAX/PACT-PKR signaling pathway may inhibit p53 protein turnover by a sumoylation-dependent mechanism with promotion of p53 phosphorylation and translational activation leading to G₁ cell cycle arrest.

Cell Cycle 11:407-417(2012) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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