Biochemical Characterization of Delta FosB
DeltaFosB, the truncated splice variant of FosB, is an important mediator of the long-term plasticity induced in brain by chronic exposure to many types of stimuli, such as repeated administration of drugs of abuse, stress, or compulsive running. Once induced, DeltaFosB persists in the brain for weeks or months following cessation of the chronic stimulus. In addition, DeltaFosB both activates and represses transcription. The biochemical basis of DeltaFosB's persistent expression and dual transcriptional regulation has remained unknown. Both the enhanced protein stability and transcriptional properties are unique to DeltaFosB, compared to FosB, and are critical for its role in neural plasticity. DeltaFosB lacks the C-terminal 101 amino acids of FosB as a result of alternative splicing. The purpose of this work is to biochemically characterize DeltaFosB relative to FosB, to determine how truncation of the FosB C-terminus directs its function. Here, I show that the FosB C-terminus contains two destabilizing elements that promote the degradation of FosB by both proteasome dependent and independent mechanisms. Pulse chase experiments of FosB C-terminal truncation mutants indicate that removal of these C-terminal degrons increases the FosB half-life ~5 fold and prevents its proteasome-mediated degradation and ubiquitylation, properties similar to FosB. These data indicate that alterative splicing specifically removes two destabilizing elements from FosB in order to generate a longer-lived transcription factor, DeltaFosB, in response to chronic perturbations to the brain. Truncation of the C-terminus from FosB also results in differing interaction partners for FosB and DeltaFosB that may contribute to the varying functions of each protein. Specifically, using co-immunoprecipitation assays both in vitro and in vivo, I determined that HDAC1 (histone deacetylase 1) is the preferential binding partner of DeltaFosB compared to FosB. These data suggest an intriguing hypothesis that DeltaFosB interactions with specific HATs and HDACs may be one mechanism by which DeltaFosB mediates both activating and repressive transcriptional activities. DeltaFosB is a unique transcription factor compared to its Fos family members. Truncation of the FosB C-terminal domain liberates DeltaFosB, enabling long-term protein stability and promoting specific interactions with protein partners that are critical for gene regulation important for neural plasticity.