As a multifunctional protein, KRAB domain-associated protein 1 (KAP1) is reportedly subjected to multiple protein posttranslational modifications, including phosphorylation and sumoylation. However, gaps exist in our knowledge of how KAP1 phosphorylation cross-talks with KAP1 sumoylation and what the biological consequence is. Here, we show that doxorubicin (Dox) treatment induces KAP1 phosphorylation at Ser-824 via an ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM)-dependent manner, correlating with the transcriptional de-repression of p21WAF1/CIP1 and Gadd45α. A S824A substitution of KAP1, which ablates the ATM-induced phosphorylation, results in an increase of KAP1 sumoylation and repression of p21 transcription in Dox-treated cells. By contrast, a S824D mutation of KAP1, which mimics constitutive phosphorylation of KAP1, leads to a decrease of KAP1 sumoylation and stimulation of p21 transcription before the exposure of Dox. We further provide evidence that SENP1 deSUMOylase is involved in activating basal, but not Dox-induced, KAP1 Ser-824 phosphorylation, rendering a stimulation of p21 and Gadd45α transcription. Moreover, KAP1 and differential sumoylation of KAP1 were also demonstrated to fine-tune the transcription of three additional KAP1-targeted genes, including Bax, Puma, and Noxa. Taken together, our results suggest a novel role for ATM that selectively stimulates KAP1 Ser-824 phosphorylation to repress its sumoylation, leading to the de-repression of expression of a subset of genes involved in promoting cell cycle control and apoptosis in response to genotoxic stresses.
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