Phosphorylation/dephosphorylation processes are known to control the activity of several transcription factors. The nutrition-dependent expression of sucrase–isomaltase and Na+/glucose co-transporter 1, two proteins implicated in the intestinal absorption of glucose, has been shown to be closely related to modifications of hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 (HNF1) activity. This study was conducted to determine whether phosphorylation/dephosphorylation processes could control HNF1 activity. We show that expression of the gene encoding sucrase–isomaltase is inhibited in the enterocytic Caco-2 clone TC7 by okadaic acid at a concentration that is known to inhibit protein phosphatases 1/2A and that does not affect cell viability. At the same concentration, phosphorylation of the HNF1α and HNF1β isoforms is greatly enhanced and their DNA-binding capacity is decreased. The phosphorylation state of HNF1β isoforms directly affects their DNA-binding capacity. In contrast, the decreased DNA-binding activity of the HNF1α isoforms, which was observed after the inhibition of protein phosphatases 1/2A, is due to a net decrease in their total cellular and nuclear amounts. Such an effect results from a decrease in both the HNF1α mRNA levels and the half-life of the protein. This is the first evidence for the implication of protein phosphatases 1/2A in the control of the activity of HNF1 isoforms. Moreover, these results emphasize a physiological role for the balance between phosphatases and kinases in the nutrition-dependent regulation of HNF1-controlled genes.

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