Identification of a C-terminal tripeptide motif involved in the control of rapid proteasomal degradation of c-Fos proto-oncoprotein during the G(0)-to-S phase transition

Acquaviva, C.; Brockly, F.; Ferrara, P.; Bossis, G.; Salvat, C.; Jariel-Encontre, I.; Piechaczyk, M.


2001-11-08 / vol 20 / pages 7563-72


c-Fos proto-oncoprotein is rapidly and transiently expressed in cells undergoing the G(0)-to-S phase transition in response to stimulation for growth by serum. Under these conditions, the rapid decay of the protein occurring after induction is accounted for by efficient recognition and degradation by the proteasome. PEST motifs are sequences rich in Pro, Glu, Asp, Ser and Thr which have been proposed to constitute protein instability determinants. c-Fos contains three such motifs, one of which comprises the C-terminal 20 amino acids and has already been proposed to be the major determinant of c-Fos instability. Using site-directed mutagenesis and an expression system reproducing c-fos gene transient expression in transfected cells, we have analysed the turnover of c-Fos mutants deleted of the various PEST sequences in synchronized mouse embryo fibroblasts. Our data showed no role for the two internal PEST motifs in c-Fos instability. However, deletion of the C-terminal PEST region led to only a twofold stabilization of the protein. Taken together, these data indicate that c-Fos instability during the G0-to-S phase transition is governed by a major non-PEST destabilizer and a C-terminal degradation-accelerating element. Further dissection of c-Fos C-terminal region showed that the degradation-accelerating effect is not contributed by the whole PEST sequence but by a short PTL tripeptide which cannot be considered as a PEST motif and which can act in the absence of any PEST environment. Interestingly, the PTL motif is conserved in other members of the fos multigene family. Nevertheless, its contribution to protein instability is restricted to c-Fos suggesting that the mechanisms whereby the various Fos proteins are broken down are, at least partially, different. MAP kinases-mediated phosphorylation of two serines close to PTL, which are both phosphorylated all over the G(0)-to-S phase transition, have been proposed by others to stabilize c-Fos protein significantly. We, however, showed that the PTL motif does not exert its effect by counteracting a stabilizing effect of these phosphorylations under our experimental conditions.

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Humans; Animals; Mice; Amino Acid Sequence; Molecular Sequence Data; Protein Binding; Phosphorylation; Models, Genetic; Blotting, Northern; Precipitin Tests; Time Factors; Blotting, Western; RNA, Messenger/metabolism; Mutation; Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos/*metabolism; Multienzyme Complexes/*metabolism; Protein Structure, Tertiary; S Phase; Mutagenesis, Site-Directed; Rats; Sequence Homology, Amino Acid; Transfection; Mice, Inbred BALB C; Plasmids/metabolism; 3T3 Cells; Cysteine Endopeptidases/*metabolism; G0 Phase; Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex; Multigene Family; Amino Acid Motifs; Gene Deletion; Amino Acids/chemistry; Peptides/*chemistry; Serum Response Element

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