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ERK2 stimulates MYC transcription by anchoring CDK9 to the MYC promoter in a kinase activity–independent manner

Abstract: The transcription factor MYC regulates cell proliferation, transformation, and survival in response to growth factor signaling that is mediated in part by the kinase activity of ERK2. Because ERK2 can also bind to DNA to modify gene expression, we investigated whether it more directly regulates MYC transcription. We identified ERK2 binding sites in the MYC promoter and detected ERK2 at the promoter in various serum-stimulated cell types. Expression of nuclear-localized ERK2 constructs in serum-starved cells revealed that ERK2 in the nucleus-regardless of its kinase activity-increased MYC mRNA expression and MYC protein abundance. ERK2 bound to the promoter through its amino-terminal insert domain and to the cyclin-dependent kinase CDK9 (which activates RNA polymerase II) through its carboxyl-terminal conserved docking domain. Both interactions were essential for ERK2-induced MYC expression, and depleting ERK impaired CDK9 occupancy and RNA polymerase II progression at the MYC promoter. Artificially tethering CDK9 to the MYC promoter by fusing it to the ERK2 insert domain was sufficient to stimulate MYC expression in serum-starved cells. Our findings demonstrate a role for ERK2 at the MYC promoter acting as a kinase-independent anchor for the recruitment of CDK9 to promote MYC expression.

 Authorship: Agudo-Ibáñez L., Morante M., García-Gutiérrez L., Quintanilla A., Rodríguez J., Muñoz A., León J., Crespo P.,

 Fuente: Science Signaling, 2023, 16, eadg4193

 Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science

 Year of publication: 2023

 No. of pages: 15

 Publication type: Article

 DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.adg4193

 ISSN: 1945-0877,1937-9145

 Spanish project: MCIN/AEI/10.13039/ 501100011033/

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