p300 and CBP are highly related nuclear proteins, which have been implicated in transcriptional responses to disparate extracellular and intracellular signals. There are at least two very good reasons for which p300 and CBP have attracted the attention of the scientific world. First, they belong to an unique class of transcription co-activators possessing histone acetyltransferase activity and therefore have the potential to reveal basic aspects pertaining to regulation of chromatin structure. Second, p300 and CBP deliver essential functions in virtually all known cellular programs, including the decision to grow, to differentiate, or to commit suicide by apoptosis. Consistent with the complexity of these processes, a multitude of intracellular factors physically interact with p300 and CBP. Thus, the task of many investigations has been the understanding of how these proteins receive signals in the cells, what induces their recruitment in a given signal transduction pathway, and what determines the final outcome of their individual activity. This review will focus on mechanistic and theoretical questions pertaining to the mode of action of p300 and CBP posed by works performed in animal and in vitro model systems.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.