The tumour suppressor protein p53 is activated by distinct cellular stresses including radiation, hypoxia, type-I interferon, and DNA/RNA virus infection. The transactivation domain of p53 contains a phosphorylation site at serine 20 (Ser20) whose modification stabilises the binding of the transcriptional co-activator p300 and whose mutation in murine transgenics induces B-cell lymphoma. Although the checkpoint kinase CHK2 is implicated in promoting Ser20-site phosphorylation after irradiation, the enzyme that triggers this phosphorylation after DNA viral infection is undefined. Using human herpesvirus 6B (HHV-6B) as a virus that induces Ser20-site phosphorylation of p53 in T-cells, we sought to identify the kinase responsible for this virus-induced p53 modification. The p53 Ser20 kinase was fractionated and purified using cation, anion, and dye-ligand exchange chromatography. Mass spectrometry identified casein kinase 1 (CK1) and vaccinia-related kinase 1 (VRK1) as enzymes that co-eluted with virus-induced Ser20-site kinase activity. Immunodepletion of CK1, but not VRK1, removed the kinase activity from the peak fraction and bacterially-expressed CK1 exhibited Ser20-site kinase activity equivalent to the virus-induced native CK1. CK1 modified p53 in a docking-dependent manner, which is similar to other known Ser20-site p53 kinases. Low levels of the CK1 inhibitor D4476 selectively inhibited HHV-6B-induced Ser20-site phosphorylation of p53. However, X-ray-induced Ser20-site phosphorylation of p53 was not blocked by D4476. These data highlight a central role for CK1 as the Ser20-site kinase for p53 in DNA virus-infected cells, but also suggest that distinct stresses may selectively trigger different protein kinases to modify the transactivation domain of p53 at Ser20.
Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2008, Vol 283, p. 28563-73