Background: Hypertonicity, such as induced by high NaCl, increases the activity of the transcription factor TonEBP/OREBP whose target genes increase osmoprotective organic osmolytes and heat shock proteins. Methodology: We used mass spectrometry to analyze proteins that coimmunoprecipitate with TonEBP/OREBP in order to identify ones that might contribute to its high NaCl-induced activation. Principal Findings: We identified 20 unique peptides from Mediator of DNA Damage Checkpoint 1 (MDC1) with high probability. The identification was confirmed by Western analysis. We used small interfering RNA knockdown of MDC1 to characterize its osmotic function. Knocking down MDC1 reduces high NaCl-induced increases in TonEBP/OREBP transcriptional and transactivating activity, but has no significant effect on its nuclear localization. We confirm six previously known phosphorylation sites in MDC1, but do not find evidence that high NaCl increases phosphorylation of MDC1. It is suggestive that MDC1 acts as a DNA damage response protein since hypertonicity reversibly increases DNA breaks, and other DNA damage response proteins, like ATM, also associate with TonEBP/OREBP and contribute to its activation by hypertonicity. Conclusions/Significance: MDC1 associates with TonEBP/OREBP and contributes to high NaCl-induced increase of that factor's transcriptional activity.
|National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute