Hyperphosphorylation of heat shock transcription factor 1 is correlated with transcriptional competence and slow dissociation of active factor trimers.
In the course of its activation by heat and other stresses, the inactive monomer of human heat shock transcription factor 1 (HSF1) is converted to a DNA-binding homotrimer and is hyperphosphorylated. At least four Ser/Thr residues in HSF1 appeared to be inducibly phosphorylated during heat shock. Ser/Thr protein kinase inhibitors inhibited, and protein phosphatase inhibitor calyculin A and phorbol ester enhanced, hsp70-CAT reporter gene expression but not heat shock element DNA binding activity in HeLa cells undergoing a moderate heat shock. Calyculin A (5-20 nM) caused hyperphosphorylation of HSF1, the extent of which was comparable to that produced by moderate to severe heat shock. Upon recovery from a 42 degrees C/30 min-heat shock, HSF1 trimers disassembled quantitatively within 2 h. Calyculin A interfered with the dissociation of HSF1 trimers. Thus, hyperphosphorylation increases the effective half-life of the HSF1 trimer, which may prolong factor activity subsequent to heat shock. Hyperphosphorylation also dramatically stimulated the transactivation function of HSF1: exposure to calyculin A of cells induced to form inactive HSF1 trimers resulted in the conversion of the inactive to active trimers. Given that deletion of certain sequences renders HSF1 constitutively active, these results suggested that the activation of HSF1 trimers by calyculin A was a consequence of hyperphosphorylation of HSF1 rather than of a downstream factor.
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