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1.  PTB is Critical for the Turnover and Subcellular Distribution of CD40 Ligand (CD40L) mRNA in CD4+ T cells 
CD40 ligand (CD40L or CD154) is regulated at the posttranscriptional level by an activation-induced process that results in a highly stable transcript at extended times of T cell activation. Transcript stability is mediated by polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB)-containing complexes (Complex I and II) that bind to three adjacent CU-rich sequences within the 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR). To assess the role of PTB in the expression and distribution of CD40L mRNA, PTB was targeted using shRNA in both primary T cells and a T cell line that recapitulates the stability phase of regulated CD40L mRNA decay. PTB knockdown resulted in a marked decrease in the mRNA stability that resulted in lowered CD40L surface expression. PTB was also critical for appropriate distribution of CD40L mRNA between the nucleus and cytoplasm and in the cytoplasm between the cytosol and the translating polysomes. The activation-induced formation of PTB-specific RNP complexes was observed only with cytoplasmic and not nuclear PTB indicating functional differences in the protein defined by cellular localization. Finally, we observed that cytoplasmic and nuclear PTB isoforms were differentially modified relative to each other and that the changes in cytoplasmic PTB were consistent with activation-induced phosphorylation. Together this work suggests that distinctly modified PTB regulates CD40L expression at multiple steps by 1) retaining CD40L mRNA in the nucleus, 2) directly regulating mRNA stability at late times of activation and 3) forming a ribonuclear complex that preferentially associates with translating ribosomes thus leading to an enhanced level of CD40L protein.
PMCID: PMC3119477  PMID: 21242519
2.  Solution and crystal structures of a C-terminal fragment of the neuronal isoform of the polypyrimidine tract binding protein (nPTB) 
PeerJ  2014;2:e305.
The eukaryotic polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) serves primarily as a regulator of alternative splicing of messenger RNA, but is also co-opted to other roles such as RNA localisation and translation initiation from internal ribosome entry sites. The neuronal paralogue of PTB (nPTB) is 75% identical in amino acid sequence with PTB. Although the two proteins have broadly similar RNA binding specificities and effects on RNA splicing, differential expression of PTB and nPTB can lead to the generation of alternatively spliced mRNAs. RNA binding by PTB and nPTB is mediated by four RNA recognition motifs (RRMs). We present here the crystal and solution structures of the C-terminal domain of nPTB (nPTB34) which contains RRMs 3 and 4. As expected the structures are similar to each other and to the solution structure of the equivalent fragment from PTB (PTB34). The result confirms that, as found for PTB, RRMs 3 and 4 of nPTB interact with one another to form a stable unit that presents the RNA-binding surfaces of the component RRMs on opposite sides that face away from each other. The major differences between PTB34 and nPTB34 arise from amino acid side chain substitutions on the exposed β-sheet surfaces and adjoining loops of each RRM, which are likely to modulate interactions with RNA.
PMCID: PMC3961105  PMID: 24688880
Polypyrimidine tract binding protein; Protein crystallography; Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Pre-mRNA splicing; RNA binding proteins; Protein structure
3.  New Insights into Functional Roles of the Polypyrimidine Tract-Binding Protein 
Polypyrimidine Tract Binding Protein (PTB) is an intensely studied RNA binding protein involved in several post-transcriptional regulatory events of gene expression. Initially described as a pre-mRNA splicing regulator, PTB is now widely accepted as a multifunctional protein shuttling between nucleus and cytoplasm. Accordingly, PTB can interact with selected RNA targets, structural elements and proteins. There is increasing evidence that PTB and its paralog PTBP2 play a major role as repressors of alternatively spliced exons, whose transcription is tissue-regulated. In addition to alternative splicing, PTB is involved in almost all steps of mRNA metabolism, including polyadenylation, mRNA stability and initiation of protein translation. Furthermore, it is well established that PTB recruitment in internal ribosome entry site (IRES) activates the translation of picornaviral and cellular proteins. Detailed studies of the structural properties of PTB have contributed to our understanding of the mechanism of RNA binding by RNA Recognition Motif (RRM) domains. In the present review, we will describe the structural properties of PTB, its paralogs and co-factors, the role in post-transcriptional regulation and actions in cell differentiation and pathogenesis. Defining the multifunctional roles of PTB will contribute to the understanding of key regulatory events in gene expression.
PMCID: PMC3856098  PMID: 24264039
PTB; raver1; alternative splicing; IRES; RRM; RNA binding proteins; ribonucleoproteins; hnRNP; mRNA stability; cell differentiation
4.  Role of Polypyrimidine Tract Binding Protein in Mediating Internal Initiation of Translation of Interferon Regulatory Factor 2 RNA 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e7049.
Earlier we have reported translational control of interferon regulatory factor 2 (IRF2) by internal initiation (Dhar et al, Nucleic Acids Res, 2007). The results implied possible role of IRF2 in controlling the intricate balance of cellular gene expression under stress conditions in general. Here we have investigated the secondary structure of the Internal Ribosome Entry Site of IRF2 RNA and demonstrated the role of PTB protein in ribosome assembly to facilitate internal initiation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We have probed the putative secondary structure of the IRF2 5′UTR RNA using various enzymatic and chemical modification agents to constrain the secondary structure predicted from RNA folding algorithm Mfold. The IRES activity was found to be influenced by the interaction of trans-acting factor, polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB). Deletion of 25 nts from the 3′terminus of the 5′untranslated region resulted in reduced binding with PTB protein and also showed significant decrease in IRES activity compared to the wild type. We have also demonstrated putative contact points of PTB on the IRF2–5′UTR using primer extension inhibition assay. Majority of the PTB toe-prints were found to be restricted to the 3′end of the IRES. Additionally, Circular Dichroism (CD) spectra analysis suggested change in the conformation of the RNA upon PTB binding. Further, binding studies using S10 extract from HeLa cells, partially silenced for PTB gene expression, resulted in reduced binding by other trans-acting factors. Finally, we have demonstrated that addition of recombinant PTB enhances ribosome assembly on IRF2 IRES suggesting possible role of PTB in mediating internal initiation of translation of IRF2 RNA.
It appears that PTB binding to multiple sites within IRF2 5′UTR leads to a conformational change in the RNA that facilitate binding of other trans-acting factors to mediate internal initiation of translation.
PMCID: PMC2737629  PMID: 19756143
5.  Polypyrimidine Tract Binding Protein Functions as a Negative Regulator of Feline Calicivirus Translation 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9562.
Positive strand RNA viruses rely heavily on host cell RNA binding proteins for various aspects of their life cycle. Such proteins interact with sequences usually present at the 5′ or 3′ extremities of the viral RNA genome, to regulate viral translation and/or replication. We have previously reported that the well characterized host RNA binding protein polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) interacts with the 5′end of the feline calicivirus (FCV) genomic and subgenomic RNAs, playing a role in the FCV life cycle.
Principal Findings
We have demonstrated that PTB interacts with at least two binding sites within the 5′end of the FCV genome. In vitro translation indicated that PTB may function as a negative regulator of FCV translation and this was subsequently confirmed as the translation of the viral subgenomic RNA in PTB siRNA treated cells was stimulated under conditions in which RNA replication could not occur. We also observed that PTB redistributes from the nucleus to the cytoplasm during FCV infection, partially localizing to viral replication complexes, suggesting that PTB binding may be involved in the switch from translation to replication. Reverse genetics studies demonstrated that synonymous mutations in the PTB binding sites result in a cell-type specific defect in FCV replication.
Our data indicates that PTB may function to negatively regulate FCV translation initiation. To reconcile this with efficient virus replication in cells, we propose a putative model for the function of PTB in the FCV life cycle. It is possible that during the early stages of infection, viral RNA is translated in the absence of PTB, however, as the levels of viral proteins increase, the nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling of PTB is altered, increasing the cytoplasmic levels of PTB, inhibiting viral translation. Whether PTB acts directly to repress translation initiation or via the recruitment of other factors remains to be determined but this may contribute to the stimulation of viral RNA replication via clearance of ribosomes from viral RNA.
PMCID: PMC2835748  PMID: 20224775
6.  Partial hepatectomy in rats results in immediate down-regulation of p27Kip1 in residual liver tissue by transcriptional and post-translational processes 
Purpose: The cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) inhibitor p27Kip1 may be involved in regulating re-entry of residual hepatocytes into the cell cycle upon loss of liver tissue by partial hepatectomy (PH). As yet, changes in Kip1 expression during the initial period following PH are not well-characterized. We investigated immediate changes in Kip1 mRNA and protein levels as well as changes in Kip1 phosphorylation in liver tissue within the relevant time window between surgery and the onset of DNA synthesis at 10–12 h.
Methods: We used real-time PCR, quantitative Western blotting, and immune histochemistry on tissue samples of adult rats obtained during or between 2 and 10 h after surgical removal of two thirds of the liver to analyze Kip1 mRNA or protein levels, respectively, or to quantify nuclear expression of Kip1.
Results: Kip1 mRNA was down-regulated within 4 h after PH by 60% and remained unchanged thereafter up to 10 h. With a lag phase of 2–3 h, Kip1-protein was down-regulated to a level of 40% of the control. The level of Thr187-phosphorylated Kip1 started to increase at 4 h and reached a maximum level at 8–10 h after PH. Kip1 immunoreactivity was observed in 30% of the hepatocytes before PH. Within 6–8 h after PH, more than half of the hepatocytes lost nuclear Kip1 signals. Kip1-specific micro-RNAs (miRNA221, miRNA222) were not changed upon PH.
Conclusions: A portion of hepatocytes in adult rats constitutively express Kip1 and down-regulate Kip1 immediately upon PH. This response involves transcriptional processes (loss of Kip1 mRNA) as well as accelerated degradation of existing protein (increase in pThr187-phosphorylation mediating polyubiquitinylation and proteasomal degradation of Kip1). Kip1 down-regulation occurs precisely within the intervall between surgery and onset of DNA synthesis which supports the hypothesis that it mediates activation of G0/0S-phase Cdk/cyclin-complexes and re-entry of hepatocytes into the cell cycle.
PMCID: PMC3680744  PMID: 23781207
cell cycle regulator; cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor; Kip1; compensatory growth; liver regeneration; rat hepatocytes; cell proliferation
7.  Cortactin Modulates RhoA Activation and Expression of Cip/Kip Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitors To Promote Cell Cycle Progression in 11q13-Amplified Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma Cells ▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(21):5057-5070.
The cortactin oncoprotein is frequently overexpressed in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), often due to amplification of the encoding gene (CTTN). While cortactin overexpression enhances invasive potential, recent research indicates that it also promotes cell proliferation, but how cortactin regulates the cell cycle machinery is unclear. In this article we report that stable short hairpin RNA-mediated cortactin knockdown in the 11q13-amplified cell line FaDu led to increased expression of the Cip/Kip cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (CDKIs) p21WAF1/Cip1, p27Kip1, and p57Kip2 and inhibition of S-phase entry. These effects were associated with increased binding of p21WAF1/Cip1 and p27Kip1 to cyclin D1- and E1-containing complexes and decreased retinoblastoma protein phosphorylation. Cortactin regulated expression of p21WAF1/Cip1 and p27Kip1 at the transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels, respectively. The direct roles of p21WAF1/Cip1, p27Kip1, and p57Kip2 downstream of cortactin were confirmed by the transient knockdown of each CDKI by specific small interfering RNAs, which led to partial rescue of cell cycle progression. Interestingly, FaDu cells with reduced cortactin levels also exhibited a significant diminution in RhoA expression and activity, together with decreased expression of Skp2, a critical component of the SCF ubiquitin ligase that targets p27Kip1 and p57Kip2 for degradation. Transient knockdown of RhoA in FaDu cells decreased expression of Skp2, enhanced the level of Cip/Kip CDKIs, and attenuated S-phase entry. These findings identify a novel mechanism for regulation of proliferation in 11q13-amplified HNSCC cells, in which overexpressed cortactin acts via RhoA to decrease expression of Cip/Kip CDKIs, and highlight Skp2 as a downstream effector for RhoA in this process.
PMCID: PMC2953065  PMID: 20805359
8.  A Novel Mutation in the Upstream Open Reading Frame of the CDKN1B Gene Causes a MEN4 Phenotype 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003350.
The CDKN1B gene encodes the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27KIP1, an atypical tumor suppressor playing a key role in cell cycle regulation, cell proliferation, and differentiation. Impaired p27KIP1 expression and/or localization are often observed in tumor cells, further confirming its central role in regulating the cell cycle. Recently, germline mutations in CDKN1B have been associated with the inherited multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 4, an autosomal dominant syndrome characterized by varying combinations of tumors affecting at least two endocrine organs. In this study we identified a 4-bp deletion in a highly conserved regulatory upstream ORF (uORF) in the 5′UTR of the CDKN1B gene in a patient with a pituitary adenoma and a well-differentiated pancreatic neoplasm. This deletion causes the shift of the uORF termination codon with the consequent lengthening of the uORF–encoded peptide and the drastic shortening of the intercistronic space. Our data on the immunohistochemical analysis of the patient's pancreatic lesion, functional studies based on dual-luciferase assays, site-directed mutagenesis, and on polysome profiling show a negative influence of this deletion on the translation reinitiation at the CDKN1B starting site, with a consequent reduction in p27KIP1 expression. Our findings demonstrate that, in addition to the previously described mechanisms leading to reduced p27KIP1 activity, such as degradation via the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway or non-covalent sequestration, p27KIP1 activity can also be modulated by an uORF and mutations affecting uORF could change p27KIP1 expression. This study adds the CDKN1B gene to the short list of genes for which mutations that either create, delete, or severely modify their regulatory uORFs have been associated with human diseases.
Author Summary
Gene expression can be modulated at different steps on the way from DNA to protein including control of transcription, translation, and post-translational modifications. An abnormality in the regulation of mRNA and protein expression is a hallmark of many human diseases, including cancer. In some eukaryotic genes translation can be influenced by small DNA sequences termed upstream open reading frames (uORFs). These elements located upstream to the gene start codon may either negatively influence the ability of the translational machinery to reinitiate translation of the main protein or, much less frequently, stimulate protein translation by enabling the ribosomes to bypass cis-acting inhibitory elements. CDKN1B, which encodes the cell cycle inhibitor p27KIP1, includes an uORF in its 5′UTR sequence. p27KIP1 expression is often reduced in cancer, and germline mutations have been identified in CDKN1B in patients affected with a syndrome (MEN4) characterized by varying combinations of tumors in endocrine glands. Here we show that a small deletion in the uORF upstream to CDKN1B reduces translation reinitiation efficiency, leading to underexpression of p27KIP1 and coinciding with tumorigenesis. This study describes a novel mechanism by which p27KIP1 could be underexpressed in human tumors. In addition, our data provide a new insight to the unique pathogenic potential of uORFs in human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3605397  PMID: 23555276
9.  Interactions between PTB RRMs induce slow motions and increase RNA binding affinity 
Journal of molecular biology  2010;397(1):260-277.
Polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) participates in a variety of functions in eukaryotic cells, including alternative splicing, mRNA stabilization, and internal ribosomal entry site (IRES) mediated translation initiation. Its mechanism of RNA recognition is determined in part by the novel geometry of its two C-terminal RNA Recognition Motifs (RRM3 and RRM4), which interact with each other to form a stable complex (PTB1:34). This complex itself is unusual among RRMs, suggesting that it performs a specific function for the protein. In order to understand the advantage it provides to PTB, the fundamental properties of PTB1:34 are examined here as a comparative study of the complex and its two constituent RRMs. Both RRM3 and RRM4 adopt folded structures that NMR data show to be similar to their structure in PRB1:34. The RNA binding properties of the domains differ dramatically. The affinity of each separate RRM for polypyrimidine tracts is far weaker than that of PTB1:34, and simply mixing the two RRMs does not create an equivalent binding platform. 15N-NMR relaxation experiments show that PTB1:34 has slow, microsecond motions throughout both RRMs including the interdomain linker. This is in contrast to the individual domains, RRM3 and RRM4, where only a few backbone amides are flexible on this timescale. The slow backbone dynamics of PTB1:34, induced by packing of RRM3 and RRM4, could be essential for high affinity binding to a flexible polypyrimidine tract RNA and also provide entropic compensation for its own formation.
PMCID: PMC2830284  PMID: 20080103
10.  Translation of Polioviral mRNA Is Inhibited by Cleavage of Polypyrimidine Tract-Binding Proteins Executed by Polioviral 3Cpro 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(5):2529-2542.
The translation of polioviral mRNA occurs through an internal ribosomal entry site (IRES). Several RNA-binding proteins, such as polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) and poly(rC)-binding protein (PCBP), are required for the poliovirus IRES-dependent translation. Here we report that a poliovirus protein, 3Cpro (and/or 3CDpro), cleaves PTB isoforms (PTB1, PTB2, and PTB4). Three 3Cpro target sites (one major target site and two minor target sites) exist in PTBs. PTB fragments generated by poliovirus infection are redistributed to the cytoplasm from the nucleus, where most of the intact PTBs are localized. Moreover, these PTB fragments inhibit polioviral IRES-dependent translation in a cell-based assay system. We speculate that the proteolytic cleavage of PTBs may contribute to the molecular switching from translation to replication of polioviral RNA.
PMCID: PMC135932  PMID: 11836431
11.  Transient Expression of Cellular Polypyrimidine-Tract Binding Protein Stimulates Cap-Independent Translation Directed by Both Picornaviral and Flaviviral Internal Ribosome Entry Sites In Vivo 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(5):1583-1595.
The regulation of cap-independent translation directed by the internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs) present in some viral and cellular RNAs is poorly understood. Polypyrimidine-tract binding protein (PTB) binds specifically to several viral IRESs. IRES-directed translation may be reduced in cell-free systems that are depleted of PTB and restored by reconstitution of lysates with recombinant PTB. However, there are no data concerning the effects of PTB on IRES-directed translation in vivo. We transfected cells with plasmids expressing dicistronic transcripts in which the upstream cistron encoded PTB or PTB deletion mutants (including a null mutant lacking amino acid residues 87 to 531). The downstream cistron encoded a reporter protein (chloramphenicol acetyltransferase [CAT]) under translational control of the poliovirus IRES which was placed within the intercistronic space. In transfected BS-C-1 cells, transcripts expressing wild-type PTB produced 12-fold more reporter protein than similar transcripts encoding the PTB null mutant. There was a 2.4-fold difference in CAT produced from these transcripts in HeLa cells, which contain a greater natural abundance of PTB. PTB similarly stimulated CAT production from transcripts containing the IRES of hepatitis A virus or hepatitis C virus in BS-C-1 cells and Huh-7 cells (37- to 44-fold increase and 5 to 5.3-fold increase, respectively). Since PTB had no quantitative or qualitative effect on transcription from these plasmids, we conclude that PTB stimulates translation of representative picornaviral and flaviviral RNAs in vivo. This is likely to reflect the stabilization of higher ordered RNA structures within the IRES and was not observed with PTB mutants lacking RNA recognition motifs located in the C-terminal third of the molecule.
PMCID: PMC85342  PMID: 10669736
12.  Effect of hypoxia and Beraprost sodium on human pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell proliferation: the role of p27kip1 
Respiratory Research  2007;8(1):77.
Hypoxia induces the proliferation of pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell (PASMC) in vivo and in vitro, and prostacyclin analogues are thought to inhibit the growth of PASMC. Previous studies suggest that p27kip1, a kind of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, play an important role in the smooth muscle cell proliferation. However, the mechanism of hypoxia and the subcellular interactions between p27kip1 and prostacyclin analogues in human pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell (HPASMC) are not fully understood.
We investigated the role of p27kip1 in the ability of Beraprost sodium (BPS; a stable prostacyclin analogue) to inhibit the proliferation of HPASMC during hypoxia. To clarify the biological effects of hypoxic air exposure and BPS on HPASMC, the cells were cultured in a hypoxic chamber under various oxygen concentrations (0.1–21%). Thereafter, DNA synthesis was measured as bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation, the cell cycle was analyzed by flow cytometry with propidium iodide staining. The p27kip1 mRNA and protein expression and it's stability was measured by real-time RT-PCR and Western blotting. Further, we assessed the role of p27kip1 in HPASMC proliferation using p27kip1 gene knockdown using small interfering RNA (siRNA) transfection.
Although severe hypoxia (0.1% oxygen) suppressed the proliferation of serum-stimulated HPASMC, moderate hypoxia (2% oxygen) enhanced proliferation in accordance with enhanced p27kip1 protein degradation, whereas BPS suppressed HPASMC proliferation under both hypoxic and normoxic conditions by suppressing p27kip1 degradation with intracellular cAMP-elevation. The 8-bromo-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (8-Br-cAMP), a cAMP analogue, had similar action as BPS in the regulation of p27kip1. Moderate hypoxia did not affect the stability of p27kip1 protein expression, but PDGF, known as major hypoxia-induced growth factors, significantly decreased p27kip1 protein stability. We also demonstrated that BPS and 8-Br-cAMP suppressed HPASMC proliferation under both hypoxic and normoxic conditions by blocking p27kip1 mRNA degradation. Furthermore, p27kip1 gene silencing partially attenuated the effects of BPS and partially restored hypoxia-induced proliferation.
Our study suggests that moderate hypoxia induces HPASMC proliferation, which is partially dependent of p27kip1 down-regulation probably via the induction of growth factors such as PDGF, and BPS inhibits both the cell proliferation and p27kip1 mRNA degradation through cAMP pathway.
PMCID: PMC2164950  PMID: 17974037
13.  The polypyrimidine tract-binding protein stimulates HIF-1α IRES-mediated translation during hypoxia 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(21):6884-6894.
When oxygen supply is restricted, protein synthesis is rapidly abrogated owing to inhibition of global translation. However, HIF-1α protein expression can persist during hypoxia, owing to an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) in the 5′-untranslated region of its mRNA. Here, we report on the molecular mechanism of HIF-1α IRES-mediated translation during oxygen deprivation. Using RNA affinity chromatography and UV-crosslinking experiments, we show that the polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) can specifically interact with the HIF-1α IRES, and that this interaction is enhanced in hypoxic conditions. Overexpression of PTB enhanced HIF-1α IRES activity, whereas RNA interference-mediated downregula-tion of PTB protein expression inhibited HIF-1α IRES activity. Furthermore, hypoxia-induced stimulation of the HIF-1α IRES was reduced in cells in which PTB function was downregulated. In agreement with these results, the IRES activity of HIF-1α IRES deletion mutants that are deficient in PTB-binding could not be stimulated by oxygen deprivation. All together, our data suggest that PTB plays a stimulatory role in the IRES-mediated translation of HIF-1α when oxygen supply is limited.
PMCID: PMC1310900  PMID: 16396835
14.  Polypyrimidine Tract Binding Protein Modulates Efficiency of Polyadenylation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(10):4174-4183.
Polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) is a major hnRNP protein with multiple roles in mRNA metabolism, including regulation of alternative splicing and internal ribosome entry site-driven translation. We show here that a fourfold overexpression of PTB results in a 75% reduction of mRNA levels produced from transfected gene constructs with different polyadenylation signals (pA signals). This effect is due to the reduced efficiency of mRNA 3′ end cleavage, and in vitro analysis reveals that PTB competes with CstF for recognition of the pA signal's pyrimidine-rich downstream sequence element. This may be analogous to its role in alternative splicing, where PTB competes with U2AF for binding to pyrimidine-rich intronic sequences. The pA signal of the C2 complement gene unusually possesses a PTB-dependent upstream sequence, so that knockdown of PTB expression by RNA interference reduces C2 mRNA expression even though PTB overexpression still inhibits polyadenylation. Consequently, we show that PTB can act as a regulator of mRNA expression through both its negative and positive effects on mRNA 3′ end processing.
PMCID: PMC400487  PMID: 15121839
15.  The hnRNA-Binding Proteins hnRNP L and PTB Are Required for Efficient Translation of the Cat-1 Arginine/Lysine Transporter mRNA during Amino Acid Starvation▿ † 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;29(10):2899-2912.
The response to amino acid starvation involves the global decrease of protein synthesis and an increase in the translation of some mRNAs that contain an internal ribosome entry site (IRES). It was previously shown that translation of the mRNA for the arginine/lysine amino acid transporter Cat-1 increases during amino acid starvation via a mechanism that utilizes an IRES in the 5′ untranslated region of the Cat-1 mRNA. It is shown here that polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) and an hnRNA binding protein, heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein L (hnRNP L), promote the efficient translation of Cat-1 mRNA during amino acid starvation. Association of both proteins with Cat-1 mRNA increased during starvation with kinetics that paralleled that of IRES activation, although the levels and subcellular distribution of the proteins were unchanged. The sequence CUUUCU within the Cat-1 IRES was important for PTB binding and for the induction of translation during amino acid starvation. Binding of hnRNP L to the IRES or the Cat-1 mRNA in vivo was independent of PTB binding but was not sufficient to increase IRES activity or Cat-1 mRNA translation during amino acid starvation. In contrast, binding of PTB to the Cat-1 mRNA in vivo required hnRNP L. A wider role of hnRNP L in mRNA translation was suggested by the decrease of global protein synthesis in cells with reduced hnRNP L levels. It is proposed that PTB and hnRNP L are positive regulators of Cat-1 mRNA translation via the IRES under stress conditions that cause a global decrease of protein synthesis.
PMCID: PMC2682027  PMID: 19273590
16.  Remodelling of a polypyrimidine tract-binding protein complex during apoptosis activates cellular IRESs 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2013;21(1):161-171.
Post-transcriptional control of gene expression is mediated by the interaction of RNA-binding proteins with their cognate mRNAs that specifically regulate their stability, localization and translation. mRNA-binding proteins are multifunctional and it has been proposed therefore that a combinatorial RNA-binding protein code exists that allows specific protein sub-complexes to control cytoplasmic gene expression under a range of pathophysiological conditions. We show that polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) is central to one such complex that forms in apoptotic cells. Thus, during apoptosis initiated by TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand there is a change in the repertoire of RNA-binding proteins with which PTB interacts. We show that altering the cellular levels of PTB and its binding partners, either singly or in combination, is sufficient to directly change the rates of apoptosis with increased expression of PTB, YBX1, PSF and NONO/p54nrb accelerating this process. Mechanistically, we show that these proteins post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression, and therefore apoptotic rates, by interacting with and stimulating the activity of RNA elements (internal ribosome entry segments) found in mRNAs that are translated during apoptosis. Taken together, our data show that PTB function is controlled by a set of co-recruited proteins and importantly provide further evidence that it is possible to dictate cell fate by modulating cytoplasmic gene expression pathways alone.
PMCID: PMC3857619  PMID: 24141718
internal ribosome entry; protein synthesis; translation; apoptosis
17.  A High Throughput Assay to Identify Small Molecule Modulators of Alternative pre-mRNA Splicing 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2012;18(2):180-190.
Alternative splicing (AS) is an efficient mechanism that involves the generation of transcriptome and protein diversity from a single gene. Defects in pre-mRNA splicing are an important cause of numerous diseases, including cancer. AS of pre-mRNA as a target for cancer therapy has not been well studied. We have reported previously that a splicing factor, polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) is overexpressed in ovarian tumors, compared to matched normal controls, and knockdown (KD) of PTB expression by shRNA impairs ovarian tumor cell growth, colony formation and invasiveness. Given the complexity of PTB’s molecular functions, a chemical method for controlling PTB activity might provide a therapeutic and experimental tool. However, no commercially available PTB inhibitors have yet been described. To expand our ability to find novel inhibitors, we developed a robust, fluorometric, cell-based high throughput screening HTS assay in 96-well plates that reports on the splicing activity of PTB. In an attempt to use the cells for large-scale chemical screens to identify PTB modulators, we established cell lines stably expressing the reporter gene. Our results suggest that this high throughput assay could be used to identify small molecule modulators of PTB activity. Based on these findings and the role that upregulated PTB has on cell proliferation and malignant properties of tumors targeting PTB for inhibition with small molecules offers a promising strategy for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3541474  PMID: 22972848
PTB; ovarian cancer; fluorescence methods; cell-based HTS; alternative splicing
18.  Functional involvement of polypyrimidine tract-binding protein in translation initiation complexes with the internal ribosome entry site of foot-and-mouth disease virus. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(11):8330-8339.
The synthesis of picornavirus polyproteins is initiated cap independently far downstream from the 5' end of the viral RNA at the internal ribosome entry site (IRES). The cellular polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) binds to the IRES of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV). In this study, we demonstrate that PTB is a component of 48S and 80S ribosomal initiation complexes formed with FMDV IRES RNA. The incorporation of PTB into these initiation complexes is dependent on the entry of the IRES RNA, since PTB and IRES RNA can be enriched in parallel either in 48S or 80S ribosomal complexes by stage-specific inhibitors of translation initiation. The formation of the ribosomal initiation complexes with the IRES occurs slowly, is temperature dependent, and correlates with the incorporation of PTB into these complexes. In a first step, PTB binds to the IRES, and then the small ribosomal subunit encounters this PTB-IRES complex. Mutations in the major PTB-binding site interfere simultaneously with the formation of initiation complexes, translation efficiency, and PTB cross-linking. PTB stimulates translation directed by the FMDV IRES in a rabbit reticulocyte lysate depleted of internal PTB, and the efficiency of translation can be restored to the original level by the addition of PTB. These results indicate that PTB plays an important role in the formation of initiation complexes with FMDV IRES RNA and in stimulation of internal translation initiation with this picornavirus.
PMCID: PMC192292  PMID: 9343186
19.  Crossregulation and Functional Redundancy between the Splicing Regulator PTB and Its Paralogs nPTB and ROD1 
Molecular Cell  2007;27(3):420-434.
Among the targets of the repressive splicing regulator, polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) is its own pre-mRNA, where PTB-induced exon 11 skipping produces an RNA substrate for nonsense-mediated decay (NMD). To identify additional PTB-regulated alternative splicing events, we used quantitative proteomic analysis of HeLa cells after knockdown of PTB. Apart from loss of PTB, the only change was upregulation of the neuronally restricted nPTB, resulting from decreased skipping of nPTB exon 10, a splicing event that leads to NMD of nPTB mRNA. Compared with knockdown of PTB alone, simultaneous knockdown of PTB and nPTB led to larger changes in alternative splicing of known and newly identified PTB-regulated splicing events. Strikingly, the hematopoietic PTB paralog ROD1 also switched from a nonproductive splicing pathway upon PTB/nPTB knockdown. Our data indicate crossregulation between PTB and its paralogs via nonproductive alternative splicing and a large degree of functional overlap between PTB and nPTB.
PMCID: PMC1940037  PMID: 17679092
20.  Polypyrimidine Tract-Binding Protein Induces p19Ink4d Expression and Inhibits the Proliferation of H1299 Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58227.
The expression of polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) is up-regulated in many types of cancer. Here, we studied the role of PTB in the growth of non small cell lung cancer cells. Data showed that PTB overexpression inhibited the growth of H1299 cells at least by inhibiting DNA synthesis. Quantitative real-time PCR and Western blot analyses showed that PTB overexpression in H1299 cells specifically induced the expression of p19Ink4d, an inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase 4. Repression of p19Ink4d expression partially rescued PTB-caused proliferation inhibition. PTB overexpression also inhibited the growth and induced the expression of p19Ink4d mRNA in A549 cells. However, Western blot analyses failed to detect the presence of p19Ink4d protein in A549 cells. To address how PTB induced p19Ink4d in H1299 cells, we showed that PTB might up-regulate the activity of p19Ink4d gene (CDKN2D) promoter. Besides, PTB lacking the RNA recognition motif 3 (RRM3) was less effective in growth inhibition and p19Ink4d induction, suggesting that RNA-binding activity of PTB plays an important role in p19Ink4d induction. However, immunoprecipitation of ribonuclearprotein complexes plus quantitative real-time PCR analyses showed that PTB might not bind p19Ink4d mRNA, suggesting that PTB overexpression might trigger the other RNA-binding protein(s) to bind p19Ink4d mRNA. Subsequently, RNA electrophoretic mobility-shift assays revealed a 300-base segment (designated as B2) within the 3′UTR of p19Ink4d mRNA, with which the cytoplasmic lysates of PTB-overexpressing cells formed more prominent complexes than did control cell lysates. Insertion of B2 into a reporter construct increased the expression of the chimeric luciferase transcripts in transfected PTB-overexpressing cells but not in control cells; conversely, overexpression of B2-containing reporter construct in PTB-overexpressing cells abolished the induction of p19Ink4d mRNA. In sum, we have shown that PTB plays as a negative regulator in H1299 cell proliferation at least by inducing p19Ink4d expression at transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels.
PMCID: PMC3594294  PMID: 23536791
21.  The human insulin receptor mRNA contains a functional internal ribosome entry segment 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;37(17):5881-5893.
Regulation of mRNA translation is an important mechanism determining the level of expression of proteins in eukaryotic cells. Translation is most commonly initiated by cap-dependent scanning, but many eukaryotic mRNAs contain internal ribosome entry segments (IRESs), providing an alternative means of initiation capable of independent regulation. Here, we show by using dicistronic luciferase reporter vectors that the 5′-UTR of the mRNA encoding human insulin receptor (hIR) contains a functional IRES. RNAi-mediated knockdown showed that the protein PTB was required for maximum IRES activity. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays confirmed that PTB1, PTB2 and nPTB, but not unr or PTB4, bound to hIR mRNA, and deletion mapping implicated a CCU motif 448 nt upstream of the initiator AUG in PTB binding. The IR-IRES was functional in a number of cell lines, and most active in cells of neuronal origin, as assessed by luciferase reporter assays. The IRES was more active in confluent than sub-confluent cells, but activity did not change during differentiation of 3T3-L1 fibroblasts to adipocytes. IRES activity was stimulated by insulin in sub-confluent cells. The IRES may function to maintain expression of IR protein in tissues such as the brain where mRNA translation by cap-dependent scanning is less effective.
PMCID: PMC2761284  PMID: 19654240
22.  The 5′ Leader of the mRNA Encoding the Mouse Neurotrophin Receptor TrkB Contains Two Internal Ribosomal Entry Sites that Are Differentially Regulated 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(9):e3242.
A single internal ribosomal entry site (IRES) in conjunction with IRES transactivating factors (ITAFs) is sufficient to recruit the translational machinery to a eukaryotic mRNA independent of the cap structure. However, we demonstrate that the mouse TrkB mRNA contains two independent IRESes. The mouse TrkB mRNA consists of one of two 5′ leaders (1428 nt and 448 nt), both of which include the common 3′ exon (Ex2, 344 nt). Dicistronic RNA transfections and in vitro translation of monocistronic RNA demonstrated that both full-length 5′ leaders, as well as Ex2, exhibit IRES activity indicating the IRES is located within Ex2. Additional analysis of the upstream sequences demonstrated that the first 260 nt of exon 1 (Ex1a) also contains an IRES. Dicistronic RNA transfections into SH-SY5Y cells showed the Ex1a IRES is constitutively active. However, the Ex2 IRES is only active in response to retinoic acid induced neural differentiation, a state which correlates with the synthesis of the ITAF polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB1). Correspondingly, addition or knock-down of PTB1 altered Ex2, but not Ex1a IRES activity in vitro and ex vivo, respectively. These results demonstrate that the two functionally independent IRESes within the mouse TrkB 5′ leader are differentially regulated, in part by PTB1.
PMCID: PMC2531235  PMID: 18779873
23.  RNA-Binding Proteins HuR and PTB Promote the Translation of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1α▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;28(1):93-107.
The levels of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) are tightly controlled. Here, we investigated the posttranscriptional regulation of HIF-1α expression in human cervical carcinoma HeLa cells responding to the hypoxia mimetic CoCl2. Undetectable in untreated cells, HIF-1α levels increased dramatically in CoCl2-treated cells, while HIF-1α mRNA levels were unchanged. HIF-1α translation was potently elevated by CoCl2 treatment, as determined by de novo translation analysis and by monitoring the polysomal association of HIF-1α mRNA. An internal ribosome entry site in the HIF-1α 5′ untranslated region (UTR) was found to enhance translation constitutively, but it did not further induce translation in response to CoCl2 treatment. Instead, we postulated that RNA-binding proteins HuR and PTB, previously shown to bind HIF-1α mRNA, participated in its translational upregulation after CoCl2 treatment. Indeed, both RNA-binding proteins were found to bind HIF-1α mRNA in a CoCl2-inducible manner as assessed by immunoprecipitation of endogenous ribonucleoprotein complexes. Using a chimeric reporter, polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) was found to bind the HIF-1α 3′UTR, while HuR associated principally with the 5′UTR. Lowering PTB expression or HuR expression using RNA interference reduced HIF-1α translation and expression levels but not HIF-1α mRNA abundance. Conversely, HIF-1α expression and translation in response to CoCl2 were markedly elevated after HuR overexpression. We propose that HuR and PTB jointly upregulate HIF-1α translation in response to CoCl2.
PMCID: PMC2223304  PMID: 17967866
24.  UNR translation can be driven by an IRES element that is negatively regulated by polypyrimidine tract binding protein 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(10):3095-3108.
Upstream of N-ras (Unr) has been described as an internal initiation trans-acting factor (ITAF) in the cap-independent translation of some particular viral and cellular mRNAs. Two factors led us to hypothesize that the UNR 5′-untranslated region (5′-UTR) may contain an internal ribosome entry site (IRES). The first was the requirement for persisting Unr expression under conditions that correlate with cap-independent translation. The other was the observation that the primary UNR transcript contains a 447 nt long 5′-UTR including two upstream AUGs that may restrict translation initiation via cap-dependent ribosome scanning. Here we report that the UNR 5′-UTR allows IRES-dependent translation, as revealed by a dicistronic reporter assay. Various controls ruled out the contribution of leaky scanning, cryptic promoter sequences or RNA processing events to the ability of the UNR 5′-UTR to mediate internal initiation of translation. Ultraviolet cross-linking analysis and RNA affinity chromatography revealed the binding of polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) to the UNR IRES, requiring a pyrimidine-rich region (nucleotides 335–355). Whereas overexpression of PTB in several cell lines inhibited UNR IRES activity and UNR protein expression, depletion of endogenous PTB using RNAi increased UNR IRES activity. Moreover, a mutant version of the UNR IRES lacking the PTB binding site was more efficient at directing IRES-mediated translation. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that translation of the ITAF Unr can itself be regulated by an IRES that is downregulated by PTB.
PMCID: PMC1142345  PMID: 15928332
Biochemistry  2009;48(10):2063-2074.
PTB (polypyrimidine tract binding protein) participates in cellular regulatory functions in the nucleus and the cytoplasm. It binds to internal ribosome entry sites to facilitate their use in cap-independent translation. It binds to polypyrimidine tracts in pre-mRNA introns to repress inclusion of exons. It binds to the 3′ untranslated regions of mRNAs to stabilize the message. These RNAs have various structures, yet PTB binds to all of them. Here, RNAs with structured or unstructured polypyrimidine tracts are bound to the full length PTB1 protein and two protein sub-domains, each containing two RNA Recognition Motifs. Hairpin loops from c-src and GABAA γ2 pre-mRNAs and from the 3′ terminus of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) were compared to a single-stranded polypyrimidine tract from GABAA γ2 pre-mRNA. We conclude that PTB1 RNA binding function is modular: the N-terminal RRMs preferentially bind to short (U/C) tracts displayed in loops, while RRM3/RRM4 preferentially binds to longer flexible RNA sequences. Since it can bind to short and long polypyrimidine tracts, structured or single-stranded, PTB takes on the role of a versatile adaptor protein that facilitates formation of RNA:protein regulatory complexes.
PMCID: PMC2766422  PMID: 19226116

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