Chromatin Kinases Act on Transcription Factors and Histone Tails in Regulation of Inducible Transcription

Mol Cell. 2016 Oct 20;64(2):347-361. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2016.09.026.


The inflammatory response requires coordinated activation of both transcription factors and chromatin to induce transcription for defense against pathogens and environmental insults. We sought to elucidate the connections between inflammatory signaling pathways and chromatin through genomic footprinting of kinase activity and unbiased identification of prominent histone phosphorylation events. We identified H3 serine 28 phosphorylation (H3S28ph) as the principal stimulation-dependent histone modification and observed its enrichment at induced genes in mouse macrophages stimulated with bacterial lipopolysaccharide. Using pharmacological and genetic approaches, we identified mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinases (MSKs) as primary mediators of H3S28ph in macrophages. Cell-free transcription assays demonstrated that H3S28ph directly promotes p300/CBP-dependent transcription. Further, MSKs can activate both signal-responsive transcription factors and the chromatin template with additive effects on transcription. Specific inhibition of MSKs in macrophages selectively reduced transcription of stimulation-induced genes. Our results suggest that MSKs incorporate upstream signaling inputs and control multiple downstream regulators of inducible transcription.

Keywords: H3S28ph; chromatin; epigenetics; histone phosphorylation; inflammation; macrophage; mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinase (MSK); p300; transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chromatin / chemistry*
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • HeLa Cells
  • Histones / genetics*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mitosis*
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Molecular Imaging
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • red fluorescent protein
  • yellow fluorescent protein, Bacteria