HIPK2 catalytic activity and subcellular localization are regulated by activation-loop Y354 autophosphorylation

Francesca Siepi, Veronica Gatti, Serena Camerini, Marco Crescenzi, Silvia Soddu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


HIPK2 (homeodomain-interacting protein kinase-2) binds to and phosphorylates, at Ser and Thr residues, a large number of targets involved in cell division and cell fate decision in response to different physiological or stress stimuli. Inactivation of HIPK2 has been observed in human and mouse cancers supporting its role as a tumor suppressor. Despite the biological relevance of this kinase, very little is known on how HIPK2 becomes catalytically active. Based on sequence homologies, HIPK2 has been taxonomically classified as a subfamily member of the dual-specificity tyrosine-regulated kinases (DYRKs) and the activation-loop Y354 of HIPK2 has been found phosphorylated in different cells; however, the relevance of this Y phosphorylation is presently unknown. Here, we show that HIPK2, which is extensively phosphorylated at S/T sites throughout its functional domains, becomes catalytically active by autophosphorylation at the activation-loop Y354. In particular, we found that, in analogy to DYRKs, HIPK2-Y354 phosphorylation is an autocatalytic event and its prevention, through Y354 substitution with non-phosphorylatable amino acids or by using the kinase inhibitor purvalanol A, induces a strong reduction of the HIPK2 S/T-kinase activity on different substrates. Interestingly, at variance from DYRKs, inhibition of HIPK2-Y354 phosphorylation induces a strong out-of-target Y-kinase activity in cis and a strong cytoplasmic relocalization of the kinase. Together, these results demonstrate that the catalytic activity, substrate specificity, and subcellular localization of HIPK2 are regulated by autophosphorylation of its activation-loop Y354.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1443-1453
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Activation-loop Y
  • DYRK
  • HIPK2
  • Phosphorylation
  • Posttranslational modification
  • Subcellular localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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