ASB9 interacts with ubiquitous mitochondrial creatine kinase and inhibits mitochondrial function
© Kwon et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2010
Received: 24 December 2009
Accepted: 19 March 2010
Published: 19 March 2010
The ankyrin repeat and suppressor of cytokine signalling (SOCS) box proteins (Asbs) are a large protein family implicated in diverse biological processes including regulation of proliferation and differentiation. The SOCS box of Asb proteins is important in a ubiquitination-mediated proteolysis pathway. Here, we aimed to evaluate expression and function of human Asb-9 (ASB9).
We found that a variant of ASB9 that lacks the SOCS box (ASB9ΔSOCS) was naturally detected in human cell lines but not in peripheral blood mononuclear cells or normal hepatocytes. We also identified ubiquitous mitochondrial creatine kinase (uMtCK) as a new target of ASB9 in human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK293) cells. The ankyrin repeat domains of ASB9 can associate with the substrate binding site of uMtCK in a SOCS box-independent manner. The overexpression of ASB9, but not ASB9ΔSOCS, induces ubiquitination of uMtCK. ASB9 and ASB9ΔSOCS can interact and colocalise with uMtCK in the mitochondria. However, only expression of ASB9 induced abnormal mitochondrial structure and a decrease of mitochondrial membrane potential. Furthermore, the creatine kinase activities and cell growth were significantly reduced by ASB9 but not by ASB9ΔSOCS.
ASB9 interacts with the creatine kinase system and negatively regulates cell growth. The differential expression and function of ASB9 and ASB9ΔSOCS may be a key factor in the growth of human cell lines and primary cells.
The largest family of suppressor of cytokine signalling (SOCS) box-containing superfamily proteins are the ankyrin repeat and SOCS box proteins (Asbs; ASBs in humans). Although 18 members of the Asb family have been identified in mice and humans, the function of Asbs has not been clearly defined. The Asbs have two functional domains, a SOCS box and a variable number of N-terminal ankyrin (ANK) repeats . The SOCS box of Asb proteins has two subdomains: a BC box and a Cul2/Cul5 box. Highly conserved amino acid sequences of the BC box and the Cul5 box, which are essential for ensuring that the interaction with elongins B/C and Cullin 5-Rbx2 forms E3 ubiquitin (Ub) ligase complexes, are important in a ubiquitination-mediated proteolysis pathway [2–6]. While SOCS family members use the SH2 domain to recruit substrates, the ANK repeat regions of Asb family members serve as specific protein-protein interaction platforms to recruit target substrates in different biological processes . Asb-2 targets the actin-binding proteins filaments A and B for proteasomal degradation. Heuze et al. have shown that Asb-2 may regulate haematopoietic cell differentiation by modulating the cell-spreading process . ANK repeats of Asb-3 interact with the C-terminus of tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-R2 and act as a negative regulator of the TNF-R2-mediated cellular response . The ANK repeat of Asb-4 interacts with the factor-inhibiting HIF1α (FIH); it is also a hydroxylation substrate of FIH and promotes vascular differentiation . Asb-15 reportedly regulates protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and alters the differentiation of mouse myoblast and the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase and Akt [8, 9].
Creatine kinases (CKs) are a large family of isoenzymes involved in high-energy phosphate metabolism. Five isoforms of CK have been identified in mammals: three in cytosol, namely CKB (brain type), CKM (muscle type) and CKMB (mixed type); and two in mitochondria, namely ubiquitous mitochondrial CK (uMtCK) and sarcomeric MtCK (sMtCK) [10, 11]. CKs regulate levels of ATP in subcellular compartments, where they provide ATP molecules at sites of fluctuating energy demand of very specialised cells, such as muscle fibres, neurons, or sperm cells, by the transfer of phosphates between creatine and adenine nucleotides and immediate regeneration of ATP. The CKs are also necessary for maintaining the normal function of many other cells, including kidney, placenta, pancreas, thymus, thyroid, and intestinal epithelial cells, as well as endothelial cells, cartilage and bone cells, macrophages, and blood platelets, possibly by a continuous delivery of high-energy phosphates to the site of ATP utilisation [10–14].
Abnormal expression and activity of CKs have been shown in tumours and diseases [11, 15, 16]. The cytosolic CKB is induced in a variety of tumours, including neuroblastoma, small cell lung carcinoma, colon adenocarcinoma, and breast carcinoma. Because the tumour suppressor p53 is involved in the repression of CKB transcription, CKB may be increased in tumours with mutations in p53 alleles . MtCK is known as a primary target of oxidative and radical-induced molecular damage; and the impairment of MtCK has been reported in ischaemia, cardiomyopathy, and neurodegenerative disorders [18, 19]. Upregulation of MtCK has also been shown in creatine-depleted muscles and in patients with mitochondrial cytopathies, which may explain the mechanism of compensating for the functional impairment of the energy state control. Overexpression of MtCK in tumours has also been reported [20–22]. Hence, CKs and creatine analogues are considered a new target of chemotherapeutics for cancer.
A recent report shows that ASB9 interacts with creatine kinase B CKB in human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK293) cells, indicating that human Asb-9 (ASB9) mediates the ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of CKB in cells . ASB9 was isolated as a potential biomarker for breast cancer . In this study, we report that a variant of ASB9 that lacks a SOCS box was naturally detected in human cell lines but not in human primary cells. We also demonstrate that ASB9 interacts with uMtCK and induces malfunction of mitochondria, leading to negative regulation of cell growth.
Identification of a variant form of ASB9 in human cell lines
Association of ASB9 with CKs and ubiquitin ligase complexes
Proteins identified by mass spectrometry
GenBank accession no.
Molecular weight (kDa)
Interaction of the ANK repeats of ASB9 with the substrate binding site of uMtCK
The ASB9-induced ubiquitination and degradation of uMtCK
Colocalisation of ASB9 and uMtCK in the mitochondria and influence of ASB9 expression on the mitochondrial membrane potential
Effect of ASB9 on CK activity
Effect of ASB9 on cell growth
Because Asbs interact with a wide variety of target substrates via ankyrin repeat domains, they have diverse functions such as regulation of proliferation, differentiation, carcinogenesis, and regulation of the cell cycle. Therefore, ASBs may be differentially expressed between cell lines and primary cells. Here, we evaluated expression and function of ASB9 in detail. When investigating the expression of ASBs, we detected a splicing variant of the ASB9 that lacks a SOCS box (ASB9ΔSOCS) in several cell lines. Recently, ASB9 was reported to interact with CKB in HEK293 cells, indicating that ASB9 mediates ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of CKB in the cells. The investigators artificially deleted the SOCS box by using recombinant biotechnology and proved that the SOCS box of ASB9 mediates interactions with the elongin B/elongin C/Cullin 5 complex by functioning as an adaptor for an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex . Here, we noticed that ASB9ΔSOCS is naturally present in human cell lines. Interestingly, ASB9ΔSOCS is not expressed in the PBMCs from diverse blood samples and normal hepatocytes (Figures 1 and 3). In the process of cell line establishment, chromosomal rearrangements, insertions, and/or deletions are commonly observed. Given the importance of the SOCS box in ASB9, it is possible that induction of ASB9ΔSOCS by genetic alterations may inhibit normal function of ASB9 and have implications in the regulation of target proteins and cell growth. Recently, ASB9 was isolated as a potential biomarker for breast cancer . It will be interesting to investigate whether the reported increase of ASB9 expression is derived from upregulation of ASB9ΔSOCS rather than ASB9 in breast cancer cells.
On the basis of the proteomics approach, we confirmed that ASB9 interacts with CKs and ubiquitin ligase complexes in the HEK293 cells that stably express Myc-tagged ASB9 (Figures 4 and 5). The peptides identified from the ASB9 interacting proteins covered 27% and 4% of the entire CKB and uMtCK proteins, respectively (Figure 4 and Table 1). In this study, we identify for the first time that uMtCK is a new target of ASB9, in addition to CKB. Because the co-operative involvement of cytosolic CKs and mitochondrial CKs is required for a functional phosphocreatine circuit [10–14], it is ideal that ASB9 recruits and regulates CKB in cytosol and uMtCK in mitochondria. According to the transfection and immunoprecipitation study, the ANK repeat domains of ASB9 can associate with the substrate binding site of uMtCK (Figures 7 and 8). This result is in agreement with previous reports on the binding properties of Asbs and CKs. Furthermore, the expression of ASB9 induces the ubiquitination of uMtCK and CKB in vivo and in vitro (Figures 9 and 10). As a result, the protein levels of uMtCK and CKB were clearly reduced after long-term culture for 10 passages (Figure 11).
Given that ASB9 interacts with uMtCK, we reasoned that the two proteins colocalise in the mitochondria. ASB9 or ASB9ΔSOCS colocalised with endogenous uMtCK in the mitochondria as expected (Figure 12). Interestingly, the expression of ASB9 induced an abnormal mitochondrial structure and loss of membrane potential. Nowadays, the paradigm of the mitochondrial function is changing: mitochondria are considered not merely simple ATP-generating organelles but complex integrators of cellular signalling pathways [29, 30]. Studies that use fluorescence staining in live cells to investigate the structure of mitochondria suggest that mitochondria are highly dynamic . Furthermore, mitochondrial alterations appear to be a factor in cancer [32, 33]. Therefore, the abnormal structure of mitochondria (Figure 12) and loss of ΔΨm (Figure 13) may be direct evidence that ASB9 severely interrupts the normal function of mitochondria. Previous studies by many investigators have shown that MtCK proteins form an active octameric complex with an internal channel that stabilises the contact site between the outer membrane and the inner membrane and that this behaviour may be essential for the proper function [13, 14]. Moreover, under situations of a compromised cellular energy state, such as ischaemia, oxidative stress, and calcium overload, MtCK seems to be a susceptible target for oxidation; compensatory upregulation of MtCK gene expression has also been reported [18, 19]. In addition, the downregulation of uMtCK by small interfering RNA (siRNA) in HaCaT and HeLaS3 cells reportedly affects cell viability and mitochondrial morphology . Therefore, the targeting of ASB9 to uMtCK is quite proper for efficient regulation of cell growth. The association with ASB9 and degradation via ubiquitination may reduce the level of monomeric uMtCK as well as active oligomeric uMtCK and lead to an abnormal mitochondrial structure and function.
The expression of ASB9 was correlated with the enzyme activity of the target substrates CKB and uMtCK (Figure 14). Furthermore, the cellular CK activity of the total, cytosolic, and mitochondrial fractions were all significantly reduced by ASB9 but not by ASB9ΔSOCS. When we measured the activity of CKB and uMtCK after immunoprecipitation with anti-CKB or anti-uMtCK, the results clearly show that the activity of CKB and uMtCK was abolished by ASB9 and decreased by ASB9ΔSOCS. The association of ASB9ΔSOCS with uMtCK is likely to inhibit the enzymatic activity even though uMtCK is not ubiquitinated and degraded. The difference in the CK activity of cell lysates and immunoprecipitates may be derived from the residual adenylate kinase activity in the cell lysates. Note also that the structure of the high-energy phosphate transfer system is reportedly rather complex because adenylate kinase can compensate for the decrease of CK activity when the action of CKs is reduced . The inhibition of CKB and uMtCK activity by ASB9 is also linked to cell growth (Figure 15). However, as with the CK activity in cell lysates, ASB9ΔSOCS did not show any significant inhibition of cell growth. Therefore, the CK activity of cell lysates may represent the real state of the compromised cells that use a cellular buffer system, possibly adenylate kinases, to control the interruption by ASB9ΔSOCS.
Our results consistently show that ASB9 targets uMtCK in addition to CKB for degradation, leading to negative regulation of the creatine kinase system and cell growth. Co-operative inhibition of CKB and uMtCK in cytosol and mitochondria may be an efficacious strategy used by ASB9 for the regulation of the cellular energy state. ASB9ΔSOCS can associate with CKs but cannot recruit the E3 ligase complex and ubiquitinate CKB and uMtCK. Thus, ASB9ΔSOCS is likely to be a negative regulator against the function of ASB9. Perhaps the regulation of ASB9 and ASB9ΔSOCS expression will be an escaping strategy for cancer cells or established cell lines from the suppressive function of ASB9. Because the physiological meaning of ASB9ΔSOCS in human cell lines and cancer may give insights into cancer biology, further study on the function of ASB9ΔSOCS is warranted.
Antibodies and plasmids
The anti-Myc and anti-ASB9 antibodies were purchased from Cell Signaling Technology (Beverly, MA, USA) and Abnova (Taipei City, Taiwan), respectively; and the anti-CKB, anti-uMtCK, anti-elongin B, and anti-ubiquitin antibodies were obtained from Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA, USA). The anti-HA and anti-Flag antibodies were obtained from Sigma Aldrich (St Louis, MO, USA), while the anti-goat-Alexa fluor 488 and anti-mouse-Alexa fluor 633 were obtained from Molecular Probes (Eugene, OR, USA). The FLAG-tagged ubiquitin expression vector (pCS4-Flag-Ub) was described previously . The pDSRed2-Mito vector for the detection of mitochondria was purchased from Clontech (Mountain View, CA, USA).
Mice were maintained under specific-pathogen-free conditions. Male BALB/c mice (4 weeks old) were purchased from Central Lab. Animal Inc. (Seoul, Korea). Our animal studies were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Hallym University (Hallym 2008-12). The mice were killed and the peritoneal cells, splenocytes and thymocytes were collected.
Total RNA isolation and reverse-transcription PCR analysis
RT primer sequences for human ankyrin repeat and suppressor of cytokine signalling (SOCS) box proteins (ASBs)
Construction of expression plasmids for recombinant ASB9 and uMtCK
The ASB9 and ASB9ΔSOCS cDNAs were amplified from HEK293 cells by RT-PCR using the following primer sets: ASB9 and ASB9ΔSOCS 5' primer, 5'-CTCGAGATGGATGGCAAACAAGGGGG-3'; ASB9 3'primer, 5'-GGTACCAGATGTAGGAGAAACTGTTTC-3'; and ASB9ΔSOCS 3' primer, 5'-TGGTACCGGCTTAGGTTTTGGCAAAG-3'. The nucleotide sequences of the cDNAs were verified by DNA sequencing and a BLAST search. The ASB9 ANK repeat deletion mutants were generated by PCR using the following primers in combination with ASB9 3' primer: ASB9ΔANK1 5'-primer, 5'-CTCGAGATGGATCATGTTTCCCCACTCC-3'; ASB9ΔANK1-2 5'-primer, 5'-CTCGAGATGGACTGGCACACTCCACTG-3'; ASB9ΔANK1-3 5'-primer, 5'-CTCGAGATGCTGGCATCCCCCATCCAT-3'; and ASB9ΔANK1-5 5'-primer 5'-CTCGAGATGCAGGATTCCCCACTTCATG-3'. The uMtCK cDNA from HEK293 cells was amplified by RT-PCR with 5'-primer, 5'-GGATCCAAATGGCTGGTCCCTTCTC-3' and 3'-primer, 5'-AAGCTTTATAGGGAGGCTAGCTATCTA-3'. To delete the BS of uMtCK (amino acids 135 to 145), we used the two primer sets: one for the partial uMtCK sequence covering downstream of BS, 5'-GGTACCGTGGTGGATGCACTGAGTG-3' and uMtCK 3' primer; and one for the partial uMtCK sequence encoding upstream of BS, uMtCK 5' primer and 5'-TTGCTGACCTGTTTGACCCTGGTACC-3'. The two partial sequences were ligated by using the KpnI restriction enzyme site. The cDNA fragments were cloned into the mammalian expression vectors pcDNA-3.1/Myc-His(-)B (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA, USA) (ASB9, ASB9ΔSOCS and ASB9ΔANK) and pcDNA-3.1/HA (uMtCK and uMtCKΔBS).
Cell culture and construction of stable cell lines
Human keratinocyte (HaCaT) cells were kindly provided by Professor N Fusenig (German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany). The human embryonic kidney cell (HEK293), human B cell (RPMI 8226), human acute monocytic leukaemia cell (THP-1), human myeloid cell (KG-1), human hepatoma liver carcinoma cell (HepG-2) and human hepatoma cell (Huh-7) lines were obtained from the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC, Manassas, VA, USA). The human hepatocellular cell lines (SNU-398, SNU-423, SNU-739 and SNU-761) were from the Korean Cell Line Bank (Seoul, Korea). The HaCaT and HEK293 cells were maintained in Dulbecco's modified Eagle medium (DMEM) with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS; Hyclone, Logan, UT, USA). The RPMI 8226, THP-1, HepG-2, Huh-7, SNU-398, SNU-423, SNU-739 and SNU-761 cells were maintained in an RPMI 1640 medium with 10% FBS, and the KG-1 cells were maintained in Iscove's modified Dulbecco's media (IMDM) with 20% FBS. The human normal hepatocyte cell (Promo Cell, Heidelberg, Germany) was maintained as the vendor suggested with Institutional Review Board approval. All cells were cultured at 37°C in an atmosphere of 95% air and 5% CO2. For the generation of ASB9 and ASB9ΔSOCS-expressing stable cell lines, the HEK293 cells were transfected with FuGENE 6 (Roche, Indianapolis, IN, USA) and the cells were selected in 500 μg/ml G418 (Duchefa Biochemie, Haarlem, The Netherlands) for 14 days. The expression of Myc-tagged ASB9 and ASB9ΔSOCS was confirmed by means of immunoblotting with the anti-Myc antibody.
The cells were lysed for 30 min at 4°C in an immunoprecipitation (IP) buffer (10 mM 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazineethanesulfonic acid (HEPES), pH 7.4, 150 mM NaCl, 5 mM ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), complete protease inhibitor cocktail (Roche), 100 mM NaF and 2 mM Na3VO4) supplemented with 1.0% nonyl phenoxylpolyethoxylethanol (NP-40). Cell debris was removed by centrifugation, and cell lysates were incubated with the indicated antibodies for 2 h at 4°C. Protein A-Sepharose CL-4B (10% (v/v) slurry, Amersham Pharmacia Biotech, Piscataway, NJ, USA) was added, and the reaction mixtures were subjected to an additional 2 h of incubation at 4°C. The immunocomplexes collected by centrifugation were washed twice with an IP buffer that contained 0.1% NP-40.
Protein identification by mass spectrometry
Immunocomplexes were resolved by 15% SDS-PAGE and stained with Coomassie brilliant blue G-250. For identification of ASB9 and its binding proteins, the protein bands were digested in gel with trypsin and the resulting peptides were then purified with a POROS R2 column (Applied Biosystems) to concentrate and desalt the sample. The samples were analysed by electrospray ionisation-time of flight mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (ESI-TOF MS/MS) using a Micromass Q-TOF MA equipped with a nanospray source (Waters, Milford, MA, USA) in an In2 gen facility (Seoul, Republic of Korea). The resulting amino acid sequences were further analysed using the database managed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
The immunocomplexes and cell lysates were resolved by 12.5% SDS-PAGE. The separated proteins were transferred to a nitrocellulose membrane (Bio-Rad, Hercules, CA, USA), blocked in PBS containing 0.05% Tween-20 and 3% skim milk for 1 h, and incubated with the indicated antibodies for 2 h at room temperature. Immunoreactive proteins were detected by means of a horseradish peroxidase-conjugated secondary antibody (Cell Signaling Technology) and an enhanced chemiluminescence reagent (Amersham Pharmacia Biotech).
In vitroubiquitination assay
Immunocomplexes obtained by anti-CKB or anti-uMtCK antibodies were mixed with 50 μl of a reaction buffer containing 20 mM HEPES (pH 7.3), 10 mM MgCl2, 2 mM ATP, 1 mM dithiothreitol, 5 μg/ml Ub, 50 μM Ub-activating enzyme (E1), and 1 μM ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (E2-UbcH5a) (Boston Biochem, Cambridge, MA, USA) and incubated for 1.5 h at 37°C. Polyubiquitination was identified by SDS-PAGE and immunoblotting analysis with the anti-ubiquitin antibody.
Immunofluorescence staining and confocal microscopy
The cells were cultured on glass coverslips in 12-well plates for 24 h and transfected with a pDSRed2-Mito vector (Clontech) for the detection of mitochondria. After 24 h, cells were fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde, permeabilised with 0.1% Triton X-100, incubated with antibodies against Myc epitope (for ASB9) and uMtCK, and then incubated with Alexa fluor 633 conjugated goat anti-mouse IgG and Alexa fluor 488 conjugated donkey anti-goat IgG (Molecular Probes). Nuclei were stained with Hoechst no. 33258. The mounted samples were scanned with an LSM 510 microscope (Carl Zeiss, Jena, Germany). For three-dimensional analysis of mitochondrial structure in control cells and ASB9 overexpressing cells, we acquired Z-scan images with a Z-slice interval 0.34 μM. A three-dimensional animation file was converted with angle degree 6° using LSM510 META software (Carl Zeiss) for three-dimensional reconstruction (see Additional files 1 and 2).
Analysis of mitochondrial membrane potential
To measure the ΔΨm, we incubated the cells with 50 nM TMRE (Sigma Aldrich) for 30 min at 37°C. FCCP (Molecular Probes) was treated for 30 min at 37°C as an uncoupler. The cells were analysed with a FACScan flow cytometer (BD Biosciences, San Jose, CA, USA) to monitor the TMRE fluorescence (582 nm, FL-2 channel).
The mitochondrial fractions were isolated using a mitochondrial fractionation kit (Active Motif, Carlsbad, CA, USA) in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications. After the cells were washed and homogenised, the cell debris was removed by centrifugation at 800 g for 20 min at 4°C; the supernatants were then centrifuged at 10,000 g for 20 min at 4°C to separate the mitochondrial (pellets) and the cytosolic fraction (supernatants).
CK activity assay
The CK activity was determined with the EnzyChrom Creatine Kinase Assay Kit (BioAssay Systems, Hayward, CA, USA) in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications. The colour development was measured at 340 nm. The specific CK activity was defined in terms of units per cell (U/cell).
Cell viability assay
The cell growth of the HEK293 cells was determined by an MTT assay with a MTT solution (Sigma Aldrich) as described previously . For the MTT assay, the cells were seeded in 48-well plates. After the indicated culture periods, the MTT solution was added to each well and the plates were incubated for an additional 4 h at 37°C. After removal of the medium, the formazan crystals were solubilised in dumethylsufloxide (DMSO). The colour development was monitored by a spectrophotometer at 595 nm with a reference wavelength of 650 nm. The number of viable cells was counted by means of the trypan blue dye exclusion method.
The authors are grateful to Seung-Hae Kwon at the Chuncheon Center of the Korea Basic Science Institute for technical assistance in confocal image analyses (LSM 510 META NLO). They are also grateful to Jin Han of Inje University for helpful discussion on the mitochondrial membrane potential analysis. This research was supported by a grant from Stem Cell Research Center of the 21st Century Frontier Research Program (SC-2260), a grant from the Next Generation Growth Engine Program (F104AC010002-06A0301-00230), and a grant from National Research Foundation (20090081761, 20090083296, 2009-0093812) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Republic of Korea.
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