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Hydrogen Peroxide-sensitive Cysteines in the Sty1 MAPK Regulate the Transcriptional Response to Oxidative Stress

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alison Day, Dr Elizabeth Veal


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MAPK are activated by and orchestrate responses to multiple, diverse stimuli. Although these responses involve the increased phosphorylation of substrate effector proteins, e. g. transcription factors, the mechanisms by which responses are tailored to particular stimuli are unclear. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, the Sty1 MAPK is crucial for changes in gene expression that allow adaptation to many forms of environmental stress. Here, we have identified two cysteine residues in Sty1, Cys-153 and Cys-158, that are important for hydrogen peroxide-induced gene expression and oxidative stress resistance but not for other functions of Sty1. Many Sty1-dependent changes in gene expression are mediated by the Atf1 transcription factor. In response to stress, Sty1 increases Atf1 levels by (i) promoting increases in atf1 mRNA and by (ii) directly phosphorylating and stabilizing Atf1 protein. Although dispensable for phosphorylation and stabilization of Atf1 protein, we find that both Cys-153 and Cys-158 are required for increases in atf1 mRNA levels and Atf1-dependent gene expression in response to hydrogen peroxide but not osmotic stress. Indeed, our data indicate that oxidation of Sty1, by formation of a disulfide bond between Cys-153 and Cys-158, is important for maintaining atf1 mRNA stability at high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. Together, these data reveal that redox regulation of cysteine thiols in Sty1 is involved in a stress-specific mechanism regulating transcriptional responses to oxidative stress. Intriguingly, the conservation of these cysteine residues in other MAPK raises the possibility that similar mechanisms may ensure appropriate responses to hydrogen peroxide in other eukaryotes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Day AM, Veal EA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Biological Chemistry

Year: 2010

Volume: 285

Issue: 10

Pages: 7505-7516

Print publication date: 01/03/2010

ISSN (print): 0021-9258

ISSN (electronic): 1083-351X

Publisher: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M109.040840


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Funder referenceFunder name
Medical Research Council Career Development
BBF0230651Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council