Regulation of Gene Transcription by a Constitutively Active Mutant of Activating Transcription Factor 2 (ATF2)

L. Steinmüller and G. Thiel


Activating transcription factor 2 (ATF2) belongs to the family of basic region leucine zipper (bZIP) proteins that are characterized by the presence of a basic domain that functions as the DNAbinding domain and a leucine zipper domain that is required for dimerization. Together with bZIP proteins of the Fos and Jun families, ATF2 constitutes the AP-1 transcription factor complex. The biological activity of ATF2 is controlled by phosphorylation of two threonine residues within the N-terminal activation domain. Unphosphorylated ATF2 is trancriptionally silent, excluding simple overexpression studies to identify transcriptional targets of ATF2. We therefore decided to construct a constitutively active ATF2 mutant that would allow us to uncouple the investigation of transcriptional targets and biological functions of ATF2 from the variety of signaling pathways that lead to an activation of ATF2. We exchanged the phosphorylationdependent activation domain of ATF2 with the constitutively active transcriptional activation domain of the transcription factor CREB2. In transient transfection experiments, this constitutively active ATF2 mutant stimulated c-jun, tumor necrosis factor α, and Fas ligand promoter activities. The transcriptional activity of the constitutively active ATF2 mutant could be impaired by dominantnegative forms of ATF2 or c-jun, indicating that ATF2 and c-jun utilize a similar dimerization code. In contrast, a dominantnegative CREB2 mutant did not impair ATF2-mediated transcriptional activation, suggesting that CREB2 exhibits a different dimerization specificity than ATF2 or c-jun.

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Biological Chemistry keeps you up-to-date with the latest advances in the molecular life sciences. The journal publishes Research Articles, Short Communications, Reviews and Minireviews. Areas include: general biochemistry/pathobiochemistry, structural biology, molecular and cellular biology, genetics and epigenetics, virology, molecular medicine, plant molecular biology/biochemistry and novel experimental methodologies.