The splicing mutant of the human tumor suppressor protein DFNA5 induces programmed cell death when expressed in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Rossom, Sofie Van; De Beeck, Ken Op; Franssens, Vanessa; Swinnen, Erwin; Schepers, Anne; Ghillebert, Ruben; Caldara, Marina; Camp, Guy Van; Winderickx, Joris
July 2012
Frontiers in Oncology;Jul2012, Vol. 2, p1
Academic Journal
DFNA5 was first identified as a gene responsible for autosomal dominant deafness. Different mutations were found, but they all resulted in exon 8 skipping during splicing and premature termination of the protein. Later, it became clear that the protein also has a tumor suppression function and that it can induce apoptosis. Epigenetic silencing of the DFNA5 gene is associated with different types of cancers, including gastric and colorectal cancers as well as breast tumors. We introduced the wild-type and mutant DFNA5 allele in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The expression of the wild-type protein was well tolerated by the yeast cells, although the protein was subject of degradation and often deposited in distinct foci when cells entered the diauxic shift. In contrast, cells had problems to cope with mutant DFNA5 and despite an apparent compensatory reduction in expression levels, the mutant protein still triggered a marked growth defect, which in part can be ascribed to its interaction with mitochondria. Consistently, cells with mutant DFNA5 displayed significantly increased levels of ROS and signs of programmed cell death. The latter occurred independently of the yeast caspase, Mca1, but involved the mitochondrial fission protein, Fis1, the voltage-dependent anion channel protein, Por1 and the mitochondrial adenine nucleotide translocators, Aac1 and Aac3. Recent data proposed DFNA5 toxicity to be associated to a globular domain encoded by exon 2-6. We confirmed these data by showing that expression of solely this domain confers a strong growth phenotype. In addition, we identified a point mutant in this domain that completely abrogated its cytotoxicity in yeast as well as human Human Embryonic Kidney 293T cells (HEK293T). Combined, our data underscore that the yeast system offers a valuable tool to further dissect the apoptotic properties of DFNA5.


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