Cellular signalling

The RNA binding protein hnRNP-K mediates post-transcriptional regulation of uncoupling protein-2 by angiopoietin-1.

PMID 24642125


Angiopoietin-1 (Ang1) is a ligand for the receptor tyrosine kinase Tie2 and has key roles in the development of the vascular system and vascular protection. In a screen to define signalling pathways regulated by Ang1 in endothelial cells we found the RNA-binding protein hnRNP-K to be phosphorylated in response to Ang1. The ligand stimulated both tyrosine phosphorylation of hnRNP-K and recruitment of the tyrosine kinase Src to the RNA-binding protein. In endothelial cells hnRNP-K was found bound to mRNA encoding the mitochondrial protein uncoupling protein-2 (UCP2). Ang1 stimulation of cells resulted in the release of UCP2 mRNA from hnRNP-K. Using in vitro assays we confirmed direct binding between hnRNP-K and UCP2 mRNA. Furthermore Src induced phosphorylation of purified hnRNP-K and prevented UCP2 mRNA binding. Tyrosine 458 in the RNA-binding protein was found to be required for suppression of UCP2 mRNA binding by Src phosphorylation. In addition to releasing UCP2 mRNA from hnRNP-K, Ang1 induced an increase in UCP2 protein expression in endothelial cells without affecting total UCP2 mRNA levels. Consistent with the known effects of UCP2 to suppress generation of reactive oxygen species, Ang1 limited ROS production in endothelium stimulated with tumour necrosis factor-α. Taken together these data suggest that UCP2 mRNA is present in endothelial cells bound to hnRNP-K, which holds it in a translationally inactive state, and that Ang1 stimulates Src interaction with hnRNP-K, phosphorylation of the RNA-binding protein, release of these transcripts and upregulation of UCP2 protein expression. This study demonstrates a new mechanism for post-transcriptional regulation of UCP2 by the vascular protective ligand Ang1. The ability to rapidly upregulate UCP2 protein expression may be important in protecting endothelial cells from excessive generation of potentially damaging reactive oxygen species.