Hydra regenerate throughout their life. We previously described early modulations in cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) DNA-binding activity during regeneration. We now show that the Ser-67 residue located in the P-box is a target for post-translational regulation. The antihydra CREB antiserum detected CREB-positive nuclei distributed in endoderm and ectoderm, whereas the phosphoSer133-CREB antibody detected phospho-CREB-positive nuclei exclusively in endodermal cells. During early regeneration, we observed a dramatic increase in the number of phospho-CREB-positive nuclei in head-regenerating tips, exceeding 80% of the endodermal cells. We identified among CREB-binding kinases the p80 kinase, which showed an enhanced activity and a hyperphosphorylated status during head but not foot regeneration. According to biochemical and immunological evidence, this p80 kinase belongs to the Ribosomal protein S6 kinase family. Exposure to the U0126 mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase inhibitor inhibited head but not foot regeneration, abolished CREB phosphorylation and activation of the early gene HyBra1 in head-regenerating tips. These data support a role for the mitogen-activated protein kinase/ribosomal protein S6 kinase/CREB pathway in hydra head organizer activity.
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