Dynamic subcellular localization and transcription activity of the SRF cofactor MKL2 in the striatum are regulated by MAPK

Anthony Ariza, Yasuhiro Funahashi, Sachi Kozawa, Md Omar Faruk, Taku Nagai, Mutsuki Amano, Kozo Kaibuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Dopamine type 1 receptor (D1R) signaling activates protein kinase A (PKA), which then activates mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) through Rap1, in striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs). MAPK plays a pivotal role in reward-related behavior through the activation of certain transcription factors. How D1R signaling regulates behavior through transcription factors remains largely unknown. CREB-binding protein (CBP) promotes transcription through hundreds of different transcription factors and is also important for reward-related behavior. To identify transcription factors regulated by dopamine signaling in MSNs, we performed a phosphoproteomic analysis using affinity beads coated with CBP. We obtained approximately 40 novel candidate proteins in the striatum of the C57BL/6 mouse brain after cocaine administration. Among them, the megakaryoblastic leukemia-2 (MKL2) protein, a transcriptional coactivator of serum response factor (SRF), was our focus. We found that the interaction between CBP and MKL2 was increased by cocaine administration. Additionally, MKL2, CBP and SRF formed a ternary complex in vivo. The C-terminal domain of MKL2 interacted with CBP-KIX and was phosphorylated by MAPK in COS7 cells. The activation of PKA-MAPK signaling induced the nuclear localization of MKL2 and increased SRF-dependent transcriptional activity in neurons. These results demonstrate that dopamine signaling regulates the interaction of MKL2 with CBP in a phosphorylation-dependent manner and thereby controls SRF-dependent gene expression. (Figure presented.). Cover Image for this issue: https://doi.org/10.1111/jnc.15067.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1774-1788
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 06-2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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