Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

C-terminal domain small phosphatase 1 and MAP kinase reciprocally control REST stability and neuronal differentiation.

PMID 25197063


The repressor element 1 (RE1) silencing transcription factor (REST) in stem cells represses hundreds of genes essential to neuronal function. During neurogenesis, REST is degraded in neural progenitors to promote subsequent elaboration of a mature neuronal phenotype. Prior studies indicate that part of the degradation mechanism involves phosphorylation of two sites in the C terminus of REST that require activity of beta-transducin repeat containing E3 ubiquitin protein ligase, βTrCP. We identify a proline-directed phosphorylation motif, at serines 861/864 upstream of these sites, which is a substrate for the peptidylprolyl cis/trans isomerase, Pin1, as well as the ERK1/2 kinases. Mutation at S861/864 stabilizes REST, as does inhibition of Pin1 activity. Interestingly, we find that C-terminal domain small phosphatase 1 (CTDSP1), which is recruited by REST to neuronal genes, is present in REST immunocomplexes, dephosphorylates S861/864, and stabilizes REST. Expression of a REST peptide containing S861/864 in neural progenitors inhibits terminal neuronal differentiation. Together with previous work indicating that both REST and CTDSP1 are expressed to high levels in stem cells and down-regulated during neurogenesis, our results suggest that CTDSP1 activity stabilizes REST in stem cells and that ERK-dependent phosphorylation combined with Pin1 activity promotes REST degradation in neural progenitors.