CHOP, a member of the C/EBP family of transcription factors, mediates effects of cellular stress on growth and differentiation. It accumulates under conditions of stress and undergoes inducible phosphorylation on two adjacent serine residues (78 and 81). In vitro, CHOP is phosphorylated on these residues by p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAP kinase). A specific inhibitor of p38 MAP kinase, SB203580, abolished the stress-inducible in vivo phosphorylation of CHOP. Phosphorylation of CHOP on these residues enhanced its ability to function as a transcriptional activator and was also required for the full inhibitory effect of CHOP on adipose cell differentiation. CHOP thus serves as a link between a specific stress-activated protein kinase, p38, and cellular growth and differentiation.
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