An Alternative Splice Variant of HIPK2 with Intron Retention Contributes to Cytokinesis

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HIPK2 is a DYRK-like kinase involved in cellular stress response pathways, development, and cell division. Two alternative splice variants of HIPK2, HIPK2-FL and HIPK2-Δe8, have been previously identified as having different protein stability but similar functional activity in the stress response. Here, we describe one additional HIPK2 splice variant with a distinct subcellular distribution and functional activity in cytokinesis. This novel splice variant lacks the last two exons and retains intron13 with a stop codon after 89 bp of the intron, generating a short isoform, HIPK2-S, that is detectable by 2D Western blots. RT-PCR analyses of tissue arrays and tumor samples show that HIPK2-FL and HIPK2-S are expressed in normal human tissues in a tissue-dependent manner and differentially expressed in human colorectal and pancreatic cancers. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments showed that in contrast to HIPK2-FL, HIPK2-S has a diffuse, non-speckled distribution and is not involved in the DNA damage response. Rather, we found that HIPK2-S, but not HIPK2-FL, localizes at the intercellular bridge, where it phosphorylates histone H2B and spastin, both required for faithful cell division. Altogether, these data show that distinct human HIPK2 splice variants are involved in distinct HIPK2-regulated functions like stress response and cytokinesis.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 20 2020


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