Background: Serum stimulation leads to the activation of various signal transduction pathways in cells, and the resultant signals are integrated into the serum response factor (SRF)-dependent transcription of immediate-early genes such as c-fos. Results: To further characterize this response, we investigated the mechanism which controls serum response transcription in cultured human cells. Frequency of PML (promyelocytic leukaemia)-nuclear bodies (NBs) formation increases shortly after serum stimulation, probably facilitating the interaction of SRF and CBP acetyltransferase at the NBs. PML modulates SRF-mediated c-fos promoter activities upon addition of serum to cells or expression of constitutively active Rho family GTPases. We mapped the region in the SRF that interacts with PML to the C-terminal transactivation domain. An SRF mutant deleted of the transactivation domain neither co-localizes with CBP in NBs nor fulfills its transcriptional role. Under conditions of serum stimulation, the formation of NBs coincides with the immediate-early expression of the endogenous c-fos gene in fibroblasts and in all-trans retinoic acid-treated acute promyelocytic leukaemia NB4 cells. Conclusion: These data provide an insight into the involvement of NBs in modulating the transcription of serum-induced immediate-early genes.
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