The Journal of biological chemistry

C/EBP homology protein (CHOP) interacts with activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) and negatively regulates the stress-dependent induction of the asparagine synthetase gene.

PMID 18940792


C/EBP homology protein (CHOP), a stress-induced transcription factor, is involved in transcriptional regulation, cell cycle, and apoptosis. The present studies identified CHOP as an interacting partner of activating transcription factor (ATF) 4 in a yeast two-hybrid screen and confirmed their interaction in HEK293T cells. CHOP protein levels rose modestly and transiently during amino acid deprivation, whereas endoplasmic reticulum stress caused a much higher and sustained expression of CHOP protein. Exogenous CHOP expression enhanced the TRB3 gene induction by amino acid deprivation. Conversely, CHOP suppressed the induction of the endogenous asparagine synthetase (ASNS) gene and inhibited transcription from a reporter gene driven by the ASNS promoter following activation by ATF4 or amino acid deprivation. Short interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of CHOP further enhanced the induction of ASNS by either amino acid deprivation or endoplasmic reticulum stress. The CHOP-dependent repression of the ASNS gene required the entire CHOP protein, arguing against the possibility of simple sequestration of ATF4 by the CHOP leucine zipper domain, and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed association of CHOP with the ASNS and TRB3 promoters. Interestingly, chromatin immunoprecipitation also showed that CHOP was associated with the C/EBP-ATF composite site regions of the SNAT2, VEGF, and CAT-1 genes, despite no significant effect on their expression after exogenous CHOP overexpression. Collectively, the results document that CHOP is a member of the transcription factor network that controls the stress-induced regulation of specific C/EBP-ATF-containing genes, such as ASNS.