Regulation of transcription factor activity by interconnected post-translational modifications

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2014 Feb;35(2):76-85. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Dec 30.


Transcription factors comprise just over 7% of the human proteome and serve as gatekeepers of cellular function, integrating external signal information into gene expression programs that reconfigure cellular physiology at the most basic levels. Surface-initiated cell signaling pathways converge on transcription factors, decorating these proteins with an array of post-translational modifications (PTMs) that are often interdependent, being linked in time, space, and combinatorial function. These PTMs orchestrate every activity of a transcription factor over its entire lifespan--from subcellular localization to protein-protein interactions, sequence-specific DNA binding, transcriptional regulatory activity, and protein stability--and play key roles in the epigenetic regulation of gene expression. The multitude of PTMs of transcription factors also offers numerous potential points of intervention for development of therapeutic agents to treat a wide spectrum of diseases. We review PTMs most commonly targeting transcription factors, focusing on recent reports of sequential and linked PTMs of individual factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Proteins
  • Transcription Factors