Cell death & disease

HIPK2 sustains apoptotic response by phosphorylating Che-1/AATF and promoting its degradation.

PMID 25210797


Che-1/AATF is an RNA polymerase II-binding protein that is involved in the regulation of gene transcription, which undergoes stabilization and accumulation in response to DNA damage. We have previously demonstrated that following apoptotic induction, Che-1 protein levels are downregulated through its interaction with the E3 ligase HDM2, which leads to Che-1 degradation by ubiquitylation. This interaction is mediated by Pin1, which determines a phosphorylation-dependent conformational change. Here we demonstrate that HIPK2, a proapoptotic kinase, is involved in Che-1 degradation. HIPK2 interacts with Che-1 and, upon genotoxic stress, phosphorylates it at specific residues. This event strongly increases HDM2/Che-1 interaction and degradation of Che-1 protein via ubiquitin-dependent proteasomal system. In agreement with these findings, we found that HIPK2 depletion strongly decreases Che-1 ubiquitylation and degradation. Notably, Che-1 overexpression strongly counteracts HIPK2-induced apoptosis. Our results establish Che-1 as a new HIPK2 target and confirm its important role in the cellular response to DNA damage.