A KAP1 phosphorylation switch controls MyoD function during skeletal muscle differentiation
The transcriptional activator MyoD serves as a master controller of myogenesis. Often in partnership with Mef2 (myocyte enhancer factor 2), MyoD binds to the promoters of hundreds of muscle genes in proliferating myoblasts yet activates these targets only upon receiving cues that launch differentiation. What regulates this off/on switch of MyoD function has been incompletely understood, although it is known to reflect the action of chromatin modifiers. Here, we identify KAP1 (KRAB [Krüppel-like associated box]-associated protein 1)/TRIM28 (tripartite motif protein 28) as a key regulator of MyoD function. In myoblasts, KAP1 is present with MyoD and Mef2 at many muscle genes, where it acts as a scaffold to recruit not only coactivators such as p300 and LSD1 but also corepressors such as G9a and HDAC1 (histone deacetylase 1), with promoter silencing as the net outcome. Upon differentiation, MSK1-mediated phosphorylation of KAP1 releases the corepressors from the scaffold, unleashing transcriptional activation by MyoD/Mef2 and their positive cofactors. Thus, our results reveal KAP1 as a previously unappreciated interpreter of cell signaling, which modulates the ability of MyoD to drive myogenesis.