SRPK, a family of cell cycle regulated protein kinases, phosphorylate Serine/Arginine (SR) domain-containing proteins in nuclear speckles and mediate the pre-mRNA splicing. However, the physiological roles of this event in cell cycle are incompletely understood. Here we show that SRPK2 binds and phosphorylates acinus, an SR protein essential for RNA splicing, and redistributes it from the nuclear speckles to the nucleoplasm, resulting in cyclin A1 but not A2 upregulation. Acinus S422D, an SRPK2 phosphorylation mimetic, enhances cyclin A1 transcription, whereas acinus S422A, an unphosphorylatable mutant, blocks the stimulatory effect of SRPK2. Ablation of acinus or SRPK2 abrogates cyclin A1 expression in leukemia cells and arrest cells at G1 phase. Overexpression of acinus or SRPK2 increases leukemia cell proliferation. Further, both SRPK2 and acinus are overexpressed in some of human AML patients and correlate with elevated cyclin A1 expression levels, fitting with the oncogenic activity of cyclin A1 in leukemia. Thus, our findings establish a molecular mechanism by which SR splicing machinery regulates cell cycle and contributes to leukemia tumorigenesis.
SRPK2; Acinus; Cyclin A1; Phosphorylation; Cell proliferation
Defining the molecular structure and function of synapses is a central theme in brain research. In Drosophila the Bruchpilot (BRP) protein is associated with T-shaped ribbons (“T-bars”) at presynaptic active zones (AZs). BRP is required for intact AZ structure and normal evoked neurotransmitter release. By screening for mutations that affect the tissue distribution of Bruchpilot, we have identified a P-transposon insertion in gene CG11489 (location 79D) which shows high homology to mammalian genes for SR protein kinases (SRPKs). SRPKs phosphorylate serine-arginine rich splicing factors (SR proteins). Since proteins expressed from CG11489 cDNAs phosphorylate a peptide from a human SR protein in vitro, we name CG11489 the Drosophila Srpk79D gene. We have characterized Srpk79D transcripts and generated a null mutant. Mutation of the Srpk79D gene causes conspicuous accumulations of BRP in larval and adult nerves. At the ultrastructural level, these correspond to extensive axonal agglomerates of electron-dense ribbons surrounded by clear vesicles. Basic synaptic structure and function at larval neuromuscular junctions appears normal, whereas life expectancy and locomotor behavior of adult mutants are significantly impaired. All phenotypes of the mutant can be largely or completely rescued by panneural expression of SRPK79D isoforms. Isoform-specific antibodies recognize panneurally overexpressed GFP-tagged SRPK79D-PC isoform co-localized with BRP at presynaptic active zones while the tagged -PB isoform is found in spots within neuronal perikarya. SRPK79D concentrations in wild type apparently are too low to be revealed by these antisera. We propose that the Drosophila Srpk79D gene characterized here may be expressed at low levels throughout the nervous system to prevent the assembly of BRP containing agglomerates in axons and maintain intact brain function. The discovery of an SR protein kinase required for normal BRP distribution calls for the identification of its substrate and the detailed analysis of SRPK function for the maintenance of nervous system integrity.
Neurons communicate through release of neurotransmitters at specialized contacts called synapses. Modulation of synaptic transmission likely underlies all higher brain function including feature abstraction, learning and memory, and cognition. The complex molecular machinery that regulates neurotransmitter release has been conserved in evolution but is still incompletely understood. Using the genetic model organism Drosophila, we recently discovered a protein of the presynaptic ribbon (T-bar) that was called Bruchpilot (German for crash pilot) because flies with reduced amounts of this protein cannot fly. We now screened various Drosophila mutants for changes in tissue localization of Bruchpilot and discovered a gene that codes for an enzyme which is similar to mammalian kinases that phosphorylate splicing factors and may co-localize with Bruchpilot at the synapse. Larval nerves of mutants for this gene contain conspicuous accumulations of Bruchpilot that correspond to extensive electron-dense ribbon-like agglomerates surrounded by vesicles. While general axonal transport and basic synaptic transmission at larval nerve-muscle synapses are not affected, adult mutants show reduced life span and impaired flight and walking. The substrate for this kinase and its role in maintaining brain function must now be identified. Its discovery raises important questions about the function of homologous proteins in mammals including humans.
Male germ cell tumor (GCT) is a highly curable malignancy, which exhibits exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin treatment. The genetic pathway(s) that determine the chemotherapy sensitivity in GCT remain largely unknown.
We studied epigenetic changes in relation to cisplatin response by examining promoter hypermethylation in a cohort of resistant and sensitive GCTs. Here, we show that promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A and HIC1 genes is associated with resistance. The promoter hypermethylation and/or the down-regulated expression of MGMT is seen in the majority of tumors. We hypothesize that these epigenetic alterations affecting MGMT play a major role in the exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin, characteristic of GCTs. We also demonstrate that cisplatin treatment induce de novo promoter hypermethylation in vivo. In addition, we show that the acquired cisplatin resistance in vitro alters the expression of specific genes and the highly resistant cells fail to reactivate gene expression after treatment to demethylating and histone deacetylase inhibiting agents.
Our findings suggest that promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A and HIC1 genes play a role in resistance of GCT, while the transcriptional inactivation of MGMT by epigenetic alterations confer exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin. These results also implicate defects in epigenetic pathways that regulate gene transcription in cisplatin resistant GCT.
Abstract. Reversible phosphorylation plays an important role in pre-mRNA splicing in mammalian cells. Two kinases, SR protein-specific kinase (SRPK1) and Clk/Sty, have been shown to phosphorylate the SR family of splicing factors. We report here the cloning and characterization of SRPK2, which is highly related to SRPK1 in sequence, kinase activity, and substrate specificity. Random peptide selection for preferred phosphorylation sites revealed a stringent preference of SRPK2 for SR dipeptides, and the consensus derived may be used to predict potential phosphorylation sites in candidate arginine and serine-rich (RS) domain–containing proteins. Phosphorylation of an SR protein (ASF/SF2) by either SRPK1 or 2 enhanced its interaction with another RS domain–containing protein (U1 70K), and overexpression of either kinase induced specific redistribution of splicing factors in the nucleus. These observations likely reflect the function of the SRPK family of kinases in spliceosome assembly and in mediating the trafficking of splicing factors in mammalian cells. The biochemical and functional similarities between SRPK1 and 2, however, are in contrast to their differences in expression. SRPK1 is highly expressed in pancreas, whereas SRPK2 is highly expressed in brain, although both are coexpressed in other human tissues and in many experimental cell lines. Interestingly, SRPK2 also contains a proline-rich sequence at its NH2 terminus, and a recent study showed that this NH2-terminal sequence has the capacity to interact with a WW domain protein in vitro. Together, our studies suggest that different SRPK family members may be uniquely regulated and targeted, thereby contributing to splicing regulation in different tissues, during development, or in response to signaling.
Serine-arginine protein kinases 2 (SRPK2) is a cell cycle-regulated kinase that phosphorylates serine/arginine domain-containing proteins and mediates pre-mRNA splicing with unclear function in neurons. Here, we show that SRPK2 phosphorylates tau on S214, suppresses tau-dependent microtubule polymerization and inhibits axonal elongation in neurons. Depletion of SRPK2 in dentate gyrus inhibits tau phosphorylation in APP/PS1 mouse and alleviates the impaired cognitive behaviors. The defective LTP in APP/PS1 mice is also improved after SRPK2 depletion. Moreover, active SRPK2 is increased in the cortex of APP/PS1 mice and the pathological structures of human Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brain. Therefore, our study suggests SRPK2 may contribute to the formation of hyperphosphorylated tau and the pathogenesis of AD.
Splicing of messenger RNAs is regulated by site-specific binding of members of the serine-arginine-rich (SR) protein family, and SR protein kinases (SRPK) 1 and 2 regulate overall activity of the SR proteins by phosphorylation of their RS domains. We have reported that specifically designed SRPK inhibitors suppressed effectively several DNA and RNA viruses in vitro and in vivo. Here, we show that an SRPK inhibitor, SRPIN340, suppressed in a dose-dependent fashion expression of a hepatitis C virus (HCV) subgenomic replicon and replication of the HCV-JFH1 clone in vitro. The inhibitory effects were not associated with antiproliferative or nonspecific cytotoxic effects on the host cells. Overexpression of SRPK1 or SRPK2 resulted in augmentation of HCV replication, while small interfering RNA (siRNA) knockdown of the SRPKs suppressed HCV replication significantly. Immunocytochemistry showed that SRPKs and the HCV core and NS5A proteins colocalized to some extent in the perinuclear area. Our results demonstrate that SRPKs are host factors essential for HCV replication and that functional inhibitors of these kinases may constitute a new class of antiviral agents against HCV infection.
Arginine/serine protein kinases constitute a novel class of enzymes that can modify arginine/serine (RS) dipeptide motifs. SR splicing factors that are essential for pre-mRNA splicing are among the best characterized proteins that contain RS domains. TwoSRprotein-specifickinases, SRPK1 and SRPK2, have been considered as highly specific for the phosphorylation of these proteins, thereby contributing to splicing regulation. However, despite the fact that SR proteins are more or less conserved among metazoa and have a rather ubiquitous tissue distribution we now demonstrate that SRPK1 is predominantly expressed in testis. In situ expression analysis on transverse sections of adult mouse testis shows that SRPK1 mRNA is abundant in all germinal cells but not in mature spermatozoa. RS kinase activity was found primarily in the cytosol and only minimal activity was detected in the nucleus. In a search for testis-specific substrates of SRPK1 we found that the enzyme phosphorylates human protamine 1 as well as a cytoplasmic pool of SR proteins present in the testis. Protamine 1 belongs to a family of small basic arginine-rich proteins that replace histones during the development of mature spermatozoa. The result of this progressive replacement is the formation of a highly compact chromatin structure devoid of any transcriptional activity. These findings indicate that SRPK1 may have a role not only in pre-mRNA splicing, but also in the condensation of sperm chromatin.
Alternatively spliced variants of several oncogenes and tumor suppressors have been shown to be important for their tumorigenicity. In the present study we have tested whether serine-arginine protein kinase 1 (SRPK1), a major regulator of splicing factors, is involved in ovarian cancer progression and plays a role in chemo-sensitivity. By Western blot analyses, SRPK1 protein was found to be overexpressed in 4 out of 6 ovarian cancer cell lines as compared with an immortalized ovarian surface epithelial cell line; and in 55% of ovarian tumor samples as compared with non-neoplastic ovarian tissue samples. Reduction of SRPK1 expression using small interfering RNA (siRNA) encoding small hairpin RNA in ovarian cancer cells led to (i) reduced cell proliferation rate, slower cell cycle progression and compromised anchorage-independent growth and migration ability in vitro, (ii) decreased level of phosphorylation of multiple serine-arginine proteins, and P44/42MAPK and AKT proteins, and (iii) enhanced sensitivity to cisplatin. Together, these results suggest that elevated SRPK1 expression may play a role in ovarian tumorigenesis and SRPK1 may be a potential target for ovarian cancer therapy.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections of the squamous epithelium are associated with high-level expression of the E1^E4 protein during the productive phase of infection. However, the precise mechanisms of how E1^E4 contributes to the replication cycle of the virus are poorly understood. Here, we show that the serine-arginine (SR)-specific protein kinase SRPK1 is a novel binding partner of HPV type 1 (HPV1) E1^E4. We map critical residues within an arginine-rich domain of HPV1 E1^E4, and in a region known to facilitate E1^E4 oligomerization, that are requisite for SRPK1 binding. In vitro kinase assays show that SRPK1 binding is associated with phosphorylation of an HPV1 E1^E4 polypeptide and modulates autophosphorylation of the kinase. We show that SRPK1 is sequestered into E4 inclusion bodies in terminally differentiated cells within HPV1 warts and that colocalization between E1^E4 and SRPK1 is not dependent on additional HPV1 factors. Moreover, we also identify SRPK1 binding of E1^E4 proteins of HPV16 and HPV18. Our findings indicate that SRPK1 binding is a conserved function of E1^E4 proteins of diverse virus types. SRPK1 influences important biochemical processes within the cell, including nuclear organization and RNA metabolism. While phosphorylation of HPV1 E4 by SRPK1 may directly influence HPV1 E4 function during the infectious cycle, the modulation and sequestration of SRPK1 by E1^E4 may affect the ability of SRPK1 to phosphorylate its cellular targets, thereby facilitating the productive phase of the HPV replication cycle.
Serine/arginine (SR) protein-specific kinases (SRPKs) are conserved in a wide range of organisms, from humans to yeast. Studies showed that SRPKs can regulate the nuclear import of SR proteins in cytoplasm, and regulate the sub-localization of SR proteins in the nucleus. But no nuclear localization signal (NLS) of SRPKs was found. We isolated an SRPK-like protein PSRPK (GenBank accession No. DQ140379) from Physarum polycephalum previously, and identified a NLS of PSRPK in this study.
We carried out a thorough molecular dissection of the different domains of the PSRPK protein involved in its nuclear localization. By truncation of PSRPK protein, deletion of and single amino acid substitution in a putative NLS and transfection of mammalian cells, we observed the distribution of PSRPK fluorescent fusion protein in mammalian cells using confocal microscopy and found that the protein was mainly accumulated in the nucleus; this indicated that the motif contained a nuclear localization signal (NLS). Further investigation with truncated PSPRK peptides showed that the NLS (318PKKGDKYDKTD328) was localized in the alkaline Ω-loop of a helix-loop-helix motif (HLHM) of the C-terminal conserved domain. If the 318PKKGDK322 sequence was deleted from the loop or K320 was mutated to T320, the PSRPK fluorescent fusion protein could not enter and accumulate in the nucleus.
This study demonstrated that the 318PKKGDKYDKTD328 peptides localized in the C-terminal conserved domain of PSRPK with the Ω-loop structure could play a crucial role in the NLS function of PSRPK.
Using human autoimmune sera as molecular probes, we previously described the association of phosphorylated serine/arginine splicing factors (SR splicing factors) with the U1-small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (U1-snRNP) and U3-small nucleolar RNP (snoRNP) in apoptotic cells. SR proteins are highly conserved autoantigens whose activity is tightly regulated by reversible phosphorylation of serine residues by at least eight different SR protein kinase kinases (SRPKs), including SRPK1, SRPK2, and the scleroderma autoantigen topoisomerase I. In this report, we demonstrate that only one of the known SRPKs, SRPK1, is associated with the U1-snRNP autoantigen complex in healthy and apoptotic cells. SRPK1 is activated early during apoptosis, followed by caspase-mediated proteolytic inactivation at later time points. SRPKs are cleaved in vivo after multiple apoptotic stimuli, and cleavage can be inhibited by overexpression of bcl-2 and bcl-xL, and by exposure to soluble peptide caspase inhibitors. Incubation of recombinant caspases with in vitro–translated SRPKs demonstrates that SRPK1 and SRPK2 are in vitro substrates for caspases-8 and -9, respectively. In contrast, topoisomerase I is cleaved by downstream caspases (-3 and -6). Since each of these SRPKs sits at a distinct checkpoint in the caspase cascade, SRPKs may serve an important role in signaling pathways governing apoptosis, alternative mRNA splicing, SR protein trafficking, RNA stability, and possibly the generation of autoantibodies directed against splicing factors.
apoptosis; autoantibodies; autoimmunity; kinase; RNA splicing
Cisplatin (CDDP) resistance in testicular germ cell tumors (GCTs) is still a clinical challenge, and one associated with poor prognosis. The purpose of this work was to test pazopanib, an anti-tumoral and anti-angiogenic multikinase inhibitor, and its combination with lapatinib (an anti-ErbB inhibitor) in mouse orthotopic models of human testicular GCTs.
We used two different models of human testicular GCTs orthotopically grown in nude mice; a CDDP-sensitive choriocarcinoma (TGT38) and a new orthotopic model generated from a metastatic GCT refractory to first-line CDDP chemotherapy (TGT44). Nude mice implanted with these orthotopic tumors were treated with the inhibitors and the effect on tumoral growth and angiogenesis was evaluated.
TGT44 refractory tumor had an immunohistochemical profile similar to the original metastasis, with characteristics of yolk sac tumor. TGT44 did not respond when treated with cisplatin. In contrast, pazopanib had an anti-angiogenic effect and anti-tumor efficacy in this model. Pazopanib in combination with lapatinib in TGT38, an orthotopic model of choriocarcinoma had an additive effect blocking tumor growth.
We present pazopanib as a possible agent for the alternative treatment of CDDP-sensitive and CDDP-refractory GCT patients, alone or in combination with anti-ErbB therapies.
Pazopanib; Lapatinib; Testicular cancer; Germ-cell tumors; Cisplatin; Refractory
The SR protein ASF/SF2, an essential splicing factor, contains two functional modules consisting of tandem RNA recognition motifs (RRM1-RRM2) and a C-terminal arginine-serine repeat region (RS domain). The serine protein kinase SRPK1 phosphorylates the RS domain at multiple serines using a directional (C-to-N-terminal) and processive mechanism, a process that directs the SR protein to the nucleus and influences protein-protein interactions associated with splicing function. To investigate how SRPK1 accomplishes this feat, the enzyme-substrate complex was analyzed using single and multi-turnover kinetic methods. Deletion studies revealed that while recognition of the RS domain by a docking groove on SRPK1 is sufficient to initiate the processive and directional mechanism, continued processive phosphorylation in the presence of building repulsive charge relies on the fine-tuning of contacts with the RRM1-RRM2 module. An electropositive pocket in SRPK1 that stabilizes newly phosphorylated serines enhanced processive phosphorylation of later serines. These data indicate that SRPK1 uses stable, yet highly flexible, protein-protein interactions to facilitate both early and late phases of processive phosphorylation of SR proteins.
kinase; kinetics; phosphorylation; splicing; SR protein
Germ cell tumors (GCTs) of the testis are rare, but are the most common cancer in young men. GCTs may consist of one predominant histologic pattern or may represent a mixture of multiple histologic types. For treatment purposes, two broad categories are recognized: 1) pure seminoma and 2) others, which together are termed nonseminomatous GCTs (NSGCTs). In general, seminoma tends to be less aggressive, to be diagnosed at an earlier stage, and to spread predictably along lymphatic channels to the retroperitoneum before spreading hematogenously to the lung or other organs. Compared with NSGCTs, seminoma is exquisitely sensitive to radiation therapy and platinum-based chemotherapy. NSGCTs are usually mixed tumors and teratoma often exists at the sites of metastasis with other GCT elements; cure often requires chemotherapy to kill the chemosensitive-components and surgery to remove the teratomatous components. The main factors contributing to excellent cure rates of GCTs are careful staging at diagnosis; adequate early treatment using chemotherapeutic combinations, with or without radiotherapy and surgery; and very strict follow-up and salvage therapy. We review several clinical studies and summarize the current trends in the management of GCTs.
Neoplasms; Testis; Therapeutics
The development of sarcomatous component (SC) in testicular germ cell tumor (GCT) is an uncommon phenomenon. We searched our surgical pathology files from 1985 to 2007 and identified 33 cases of testicular GCTs with SC. The average age of patients was 31 years. All patients underwent radical orchiectomy, which demonstrated a GCT in all patients except for 3 patients who had received neoadjuvant chemotherapy. All testicular GCTs contained a teratomatous component. The GCTs were pure teratomas in 3 cases, and were mixed GCTs in the other cases. The SC was observed in primary testicular tumor (n = 19), in metastasis (n = 11), or in both primary testicular tumor and metastasis (n=3). The average percentage of the SC in the primary testicular GCT was 32% (range, 5% to 99%). The most common histologic type of SC was rhabdomyosarcoma (n = 24), followed by high-grade unclassified sarcoma (n = 5), rhabdomyosarcoma admixed with high-grade unclassified sarcoma (n = 2), angiosarcoma (n = 1), and low-grade myxoid sarcoma (n = 1). Clinical follow-up information was available for 27 patients. Of the 13 patients whose SC was limited to the testicular GCT, 2 died of GCT not otherwise specified (NOS) at 37 and 68 months, respectively; and 11 patients were free of disease at a mean of 46 months. Of the 14 patients with a SC in the metastasis, 7 patients died of GCT NOS at a mean of 95 months, and 7 patients were free of disease at a mean of 104 months. These results suggest that patients with a SC confined to the primary testicular GCT may not have a higher risk of mortality than those at a comparable stage without a SC. However, patients with a SC in the metastasis have an increased risk of mortality.
testicular germ cell tumor; sarcomatous component; rhabdomyosarcoma
Human male germ cell tumors (GCTs) arise from undifferentiated primordial germ cells (PGCs), a stage in which extensive methylation reprogramming occurs. GCTs exhibit pluripotentality and are highly sensitive to cisplatin therapy. The molecular basis of germ cell (GC) transformation, differentiation, and exquisite treatment response is poorly understood.
To assess the role and mechanism of promoter hypermethylation, we analyzed CpG islands of 21 gene promoters by methylation-specific PCR in seminomatous (SGCT) and nonseminomatous (NSGCT) GCTs. We found 60% of the NSGCTs demonstrating methylation in one or more gene promoters whereas SGCTs showed a near-absence of methylation, therefore identifying distinct methylation patterns in the two major histologies of GCT. DNA repair genes MGMT, RASSF1A, and BRCA1, and a transcriptional repressor gene HIC1, were frequently methylated in the NSGCTs. The promoter hypermethylation was associated with gene silencing in most methylated genes, and reactivation of gene expression occured upon treatment with 5-Aza-2' deoxycytidine in GCT cell lines.
Our results, therefore, suggest a potential role for epigenetic modification of critical tumor suppressor genes in pathways relevant to GC transformation, differentiation, and treatment response.
Germ cell tumor; promoter hypermethylation; MGMT; RASSF1A; BRCA1; gene expression
Reversible phosphorylation of the SR family of splicing factors plays an important role in pre-mRNA processing in the nucleus. Interestingly, the SRPK family of kinases specific for SR proteins is localized in the cytoplasm, which is critical for nuclear import of SR proteins in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. Here, we report molecular dissection of the mechanism involved in partitioning SRPKs in the cytoplasm. Common among all SRPKs, the bipartite kinase catalytic core is separated by a unique spacer sequence. The spacers in mammalian SRPK1 and SRPK2 share little sequence homology, but they function interchangeably in restricting the kinases in the cytoplasm. Removal of the spacer in SRPK1 had little effect on the kinase activity, but it caused a quantitative translocation of the kinase to the nucleus and consequently induced aggregation of splicing factors in the nucleus. Rather than carrying a nuclear export signal as suggested previously, we found multiple redundant signals in the spacer that act together to anchor the kinase in the cytoplasm. Interestingly, a cell cycle signal induced nuclear translocation of the kinase at the G2/M boundary. These findings suggest that SRPKs may play an important role in linking signaling to RNA metabolism in higher eukaryotic cells.
A neuronal serine-arginine protein kinase that localizes to the presynaptic active zone is required for kinase-dependent repression of active zone assembly.
Presynaptic, electron-dense, cytoplasmic protrusions such as the T-bar (Drosophila) or ribbon (vertebrates) are believed to facilitate vesicle movement to the active zone (AZ) of synapses throughout the nervous system. The molecular composition of these structures including the T-bar and ribbon are largely unknown, as are the mechanisms that specify their synapse-specific assembly and distribution. In a large-scale, forward genetic screen, we have identified a mutation termed air traffic controller (atc) that causes T-bar–like protein aggregates to form abnormally in motoneuron axons. This mutation disrupts a gene that encodes for a serine-arginine protein kinase (SRPK79D). This mutant phenotype is specific to SRPK79D and is not secondary to impaired kinesin-dependent axonal transport. The srpk79D gene is neuronally expressed, and transgenic rescue experiments are consistent with SRPK79D kinase activity being necessary in neurons. The SRPK79D protein colocalizes with the T-bar-associated protein Bruchpilot (Brp) in both the axon and synapse. We propose that SRPK79D is a novel T-bar-associated protein kinase that represses T-bar assembly in peripheral axons, and that SRPK79D-dependent repression must be relieved to facilitate site-specific AZ assembly. Consistent with this model, overexpression of SRPK79D disrupts AZ-specific Brp organization and significantly impairs presynaptic neurotransmitter release. These data identify a novel AZ-associated protein kinase and reveal a new mechanism of negative regulation involved in AZ assembly. This mechanism could contribute to the speed and specificity with which AZs are assembled throughout the nervous system.
Neurons communicate with each other through electrochemical impulses transmitted primarily at specialized intercellular junctions termed synapses. At each synapse, the primary site of synaptic vesicle fusion occurs at the active zone, an electron-dense presynaptic membrane with associated fibrillary matrix. Many active zones also possess one or more electron-dense cytosolic projections that are believed to facilitate vesicle mobilization to the active zone membrane and are required for normal synaptic transmission. These electron-dense projections are referred to as T-bars in Drosophila or ribbons in vertebrates. The molecular composition of these structures remains poorly characterized, and very little is known about how these structures are specifically assembled and stabilized at the presynaptic membrane. Here, we identify in Drosophila a neuronally expressed serine-arginine kinase called SRPK79D that localizes to the presynaptic active zone and that through its kinase activity appears to repress T-bar formation within peripheral axons. Our study thus provides evidence for kinase-dependent repression of active zone assembly, with implications for the development and growth of synaptic connections throughout the nervous system.
Phosphorylation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) core protein has recently been shown to be a prerequisite for pregenomic RNA encapsidation into viral capsids, but the host cell kinases mediating this essential step of the HBV replication cycle have not been identified. We detected two kinases of 95 and 115 kDa in HuH-7 total cell lysates which interacted specifically with the HBV core protein and phosphorylated its arginine-rich C-terminal domain. The 95-kDa kinase was purified and characterized as SR protein-specific kinase 1 (SRPK1) by mass spectrometry. Based on this finding, the 115-kDa kinase could be identified as the related kinase SRPK2 by immunoblot analysis. In vitro, both SRPKs phosphorylated HBV core protein on the same serine residues which are found to be phosphorylated in vivo. Moreover, the major cellular HBV core kinase activity detected in the total cell lysate showed biochemical properties identical to those of SRPK1 and SRPK2, as examined by measuring binding to a panel of chromatography media. We also clearly demonstrate that neither the cyclin-dependent kinases Cdc2 and Cdk2 nor protein kinase C, previously implicated in HBV core protein phosphorylation, can account for the HBV core protein kinase activity. We conclude that both SRPK1 and SRPK2 are most likely the cellular protein kinases mediating HBV core protein phosphorylation during viral infection and therefore represent important host cell targets for therapeutic intervention in HBV infection.
Splicing requires reversible phosphorylation of serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins, which direct splice site selection in eukaryotic mRNA. These phosphorylation events are dependent on SR protein (SRPK) and cdc2-like kinase (CLK) families. SRPK1 phosphorylation of splicing factors is restricted by a specific docking interaction whereas CLK activity is less constrained. To understand functional differences between splicing factor targeting kinases, we determined crystal structures of CLK1 and CLK3. Intriguingly, in CLKs the SRPK1 docking site is blocked by insertion of a previously unseen helix αH. In addition, substrate docking grooves present in related mitogen activating protein kinases (MAPKs) are inaccessible due to a CLK specific β7/8-hairpin insert. Thus, the unconstrained substrate interaction together with the determined active-site mediated substrate specificity allows CLKs to complete the functionally important hyperphosphorylation of splicing factors like ASF/SF2. In addition, despite high sequence conservation, we identified inhibitors with surprising isoform specificity for CLK1 over CLK3.
The SR proteins are essential factors that control the splicing of precursor mRNA by regulating multiple steps in spliceosome development. The prototypical SR protein ASF/SF2 contains two N-terminal RRMs (RRM1 and RRM2) and a 50-residue C-terminal RS (arginine-serine rich) domain that can be phosphorylated at numerous serines by the protein kinase SRPK1. The RS domain is further divided into N-terminal (RS1) and C-terminal (RS2) segments whose modification guides the nuclear localization of ASF/SF2. While previous studies revealed that SRPK1 phosphorylates RS1, regio- and temporal-specific control within the largely redundant RS domain is not well understood. To address this issue, engineered footprinting and single turnover experiments were performed to determine where and how SRPK1 initiates phosphorylation within the RS domain. The data show that local sequence elements in the RS domain control the strong kinetic preference for RS1 phosphorylation. SRPK1 initiates phosphorylation in a small region of serines (initiation box) in the middle of the RS domain at the C-terminal end of RS1 and then proceeds in an N-terminal direction. This initiation process requires both a viable docking groove in the large lobe of SRPK1 and one RRM (RRM2) on the N-terminal flank of the RS domain. Thus, while local RS/SR content steers regional preferences in the RS domain, distal contacts with SRPK1 guide initiation and directional phosphorylation within these regions.
protein kinase; regiospecificity; phosphorylation; splicing; SR protein
SR proteins are essential splicing factors whose phosphorylation by the SRPK family of protein kinases regulates nuclear localization and mRNA processing activity. In addition to an N-terminal extension with unknown function, SRPKs contain a large, non-homologous spacer insert domain that bifurcates the kinase domain and anchors the kinase in the cytoplasm through interactions with chaperones. While structures for the kinase domain are now available, constructs that include regions outside this domain have been resistant to crystallographic elucidation. To investigate the conformation of the full-length kinase and the functional role of noncatalytic regions, hydrogen-deuterium exchange and steady-state kinetic experiments were performed on SRPK1. Unlike the kinase core, the large spacer insert domain lacks stable, hydrogen-bonded structure and may provide an intrinsically disordered region for chaperone interactions. Conversely, the N-terminus, which positively regulates SR protein binding, adopts stable structure when the insert domain is present and stabilizes a docking groove in the large lobe of the kinase domain. The N-terminus and spacer insert domain equally enhance SR protein turnover by altering the stability of several catalytic loop segments. These studies reveal that SRPK1 uses an N-terminal extension and a large, intrinsically disordered region juxtaposed to stable structure to facilitate high affinity SR protein interactions and phosphorylation rates.
kinetics; hydrogen-deuterium exchange; phosphorylation; splicing; SR protein
Glioma is among the ten most common causes of cancer-related death and has no effective treatment for it, so we are trying to find a new target for anticancer treatment. This study investigates the different expression of SRPK1 as a novel protein in glioma, which can influence tumor cells biological characteristics in normoxic and hypoxic environment. The expression levels of SRPK1 protein in glioma cell lines transfected with siSRPK1 or not were examined using immunofluorescence, RT-PCR and Western blot analysis, respectively. The impact of SRPK1 on the biological characteristics of U251 cells was further studied using methylthiazol tetrazolium assays, flow cytometry, and Transwell invasion chamber assays. The results showed that knockdown of SRPK1 inhibited tumor cells growth, invasion and migration in normoxic condition, but portion of the effect could be reversed in hypoxia. SRPK1 expression was induced in glioma cells by DDP treated, but not TMZ, in both normoxia and hypoxia conditions. We propose SRPK1 as a new molecular player contributing to the early treatment of glioma.
SRPK1; glioma; growth; metastasis; chemosensitivity.
SR proteins are essential splicing factors whose function is controlled by multi-site phosphorylation of a C-terminal domain rich in arginine-serine repeats (RS domain). The protein kinase SRPK1 has been shown to polyphosphorylate the N-terminal portion of the RS domain (RS1) of the SR protein ASF/SF2, a modification that promotes nuclear entry of this splicing factor and engagement in splicing function. Later, dephosphorylation is required for maturation of the spliceosome and other RNA processing steps. While phosphates are attached to RS1 in a sequential manner by SRPK1, little is known about how they are removed. To investigate factors that control dephosphorylation, region-specific mapping of phosphorylation sites in ASF/SF2 was monitored as a function of the protein phosphatase PP1. We showed that ten phosphates added to the RS1 segment by SRPK1 are removed in a preferred N-to-C manner, directly opposing the C-to-N phosphorylation by SRPK1. Two N-terminal RNA recognition motifs (RRMs) in ASF/SF2 control access to the RS domain and guide the directional mechanism. Binding of RNA to the RRMs protects against dephosphorylation suggesting that engagement of the SR protein with exonic splicing enhancers can regulate phosphoryl content in the RS domain. In addition to regulation by N-terminal domains, phosphorylation of the C-terminal portion of the RS domain (RS2) by the nuclear protein kinase Clk/Sty inhibits RS1 dephosphorylation and disrupts the directional mechanism. The data indicate that both RNA-protein interactions and phosphorylation in flanking sequences induce conformations of ASF/SF2 that increase the lifetime of phosphates in the RS domain.
protein kinase; protein phosphatase; phosphorylation; splicing; SR protein
The C-terminal domain (CTD) of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) core protein is involved in regulating multiple stages of the HBV lifecycle. CTD phosphorylation correlates with pregenomic-RNA encapsidation during capsid assembly, reverse transcription, and viral transport, although the mechanisms remain unknown. In vitro, purified HBV core protein (Cp183) binds any RNA and assembles aggressively, independent of phosphorylation, to form empty and RNA-filled capsids. We hypothesize that there must be a chaperone that binds the CTD to prevent self-assembly and nonspecific RNA packaging. Here, we show that HBV capsid assembly is stalled by the Serine Arginine protein kinase (SRPK) binding to the CTD, and reactivated by subsequent phosphorylation. Using the SRPK to probe capsids, solution and structural studies showed that SRPK bound to capsid, though the CTD is sequestered on the capsid interior. This result indicates transient CTD externalization and suggests that capsid dynamics could be crucial for directing HBV intracellular trafficking. Our studies illustrate the stochastic nature of virus capsids and demonstrate the appropriation of a host protein by a virus for a non-canonical function.
A virus particle is a molecular machine that has evolved to self-assemble within the confines of a living cell. For hepatitis B virus (HBV), outside of a cell, the self-assembly process is very aggressive and consequently not specific for viral RNA. Here we show that HBV takes advantage of a host protein, SRPK, which acts like a molecular chaperone, to prevent the HBV core protein from binding RNA and to prevent the core protein from assembling at the wrong time and place. At the right time, SRPK can be removed in a regulated reaction to allow assembly. Once a virus is assembled, it must traffic to the right intracellular locale. Using SRPK, we show that HBV cores can transiently expose a segment of protein, normally inside the virus, that carries a signal for transport to the host nucleus. This is the first example we know of where a virus repurposes an enzyme for an alternative function. This sort of interplay between virus and host, where the virus hijacks and repurposes host proteins, is likely to be a common feature of viral infection.