KAP1/TRIM28/TIF1β was identified nearly twenty years ago as a universal transcriptional co-repressor because it interacts with a large KRAB-containing zinc finger protein (KRAB-ZFP) transcription factor family. Many studies demonstrate that KAP1 affects gene expression by regulating the transcription of KRAB-ZFP-specific loci, trans-repressing as a transcriptional co-repressor or epigenetically modulating chromatin structure. Emerging evidence suggests that KAP1 also functions independent of gene regulation by serving as a SUMO/ubiquitin E3 ligase or signaling scaffold protein to mediate signal transduction. KAP1 is subjected to multiple post-translational modifications (PTMs), including serine/tyrosine phosphorylation, SUMOylation, and acetylation, which coordinately regulate KAP1 function and its protein abundance. KAP1 is involved in multiple aspects of cellular activities, including DNA damage response, virus replication, cytokine production and stem cell pluripotency. Moreover, knockout of KAP1 results in embryonic lethality, indicating that KAP1 is crucial for embryonic development and possibly impacts a wide-range of (patho)physiological manifestations. Indeed, studies from conditional knockout mouse models reveal that KAP1-deficiency significantly impairs vital physiological processes, such as immune maturation, stress vulnerability, hepatic metabolism, gamete development and erythropoiesis. In this review, we summarize and evaluate current literatures involving the biochemical and physiological functions of KAP1. In addition, increasing studies on the clinical relevance of KAP1 in cancer will also be discussed.
Keywords: Chromatin remodeling; KRAB domain-associated protein 1; KRAB-containing zinc finger protein; Post-translational modification; Transcriptional co-repressor.