Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2009 Feb 21;106(5):1445-50. Epub 2009 Jan 21.
Department of Experimental Medicine and Pasteur Institute, Cenci Bolognetti Foundation, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.
Regulation of gene expression in response to mitogenic stimuli is a critical aspect underlying many forms of human cancers. The AP-1 complex mediates the transcriptional response to mitogens, and its deregulation causes developmental defects and tumors. We report that the coactivator CRTC1 cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB)-regulated transcription coactivator 1 is a potent and indispensable modulator of AP-1 function. After exposure of cells to the AP-1 agonist 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), CRTC1 is recruited to AP-1 target gene promoters and associates with c-Jun and c-Fos to activate transcription. CRTC1 consistently synergizes with the proto-oncogene c-Jun to promote cellular growth, whereas AP-1-dependent proliferation is abrogated in CRTC1-deficient cells. Remarkably, we demonstrate that CRTC1-Maml2 oncoprotein, which causes mucoepidermoid carcinomas, binds and activates both c-Jun and c-Fos. Consequently, ablation of AP-1 function disrupts the cellular transformation and proliferation mediated by this oncogene. Together, these data illustrate a novel mechanism required to couple mitogenic signals to the AP-1 gene regulatory program.