Dephosphorylation of threonine-821 of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein (Rb) is required for apoptosis induced by UV and Cdk inhibition

Pace University
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) (Impact Factor: 4.57). 09/2012; 11(17):3324-30. DOI: 10.4161/cc.21693
Source: PubMed


The Retinoblastoma protein (Rb) is important in the control of cell proliferation and apoptosis. Its activity is controlled by reversible phosphorylation on several serine and threonine residues. When Rb is hypophosphorylated, it inhibits proliferation by preventing passage through the G 1- S phase transition. Hyperphosphorylated Rb promotes cell cycle progression. The role of Rb phosphorylation in the control of apoptosis is largely unknown, although several apoptotic stimuli result in dephosphorylation of Rb. It may be that dephosphorylation of specific amino acids signals apoptosis vs. cell cycle arrest. Using glutamic acid mutagenesis, we have generated 15 single phosphorylation site mutants of Rb to alter serine/threonine to glutamic acid to mimic the phosphorylated state. By calcium phosphate transfection, mutant plasmids were introduced into C33A Rb-null cells, and apoptosis was induced using UV. Apoptosis was measured by ELISA detection of degraded DNA and by immunoblotting to assess proteolytic cleavage of PARP. Our results show that only mutation of threonine-821 to glutamic acid (T821E) blocked apoptosis by 50%, whereas other sites tested had little effect. In Rb-null Saos-2 and SKUT-1 cells, the T821E mutation also blocked apoptosis induced by the cdk inhibitor, Roscovitine, by 50%. In addition, we show that endogenous Rb is dephosphorylated on threonine-821 when cells are undergoing apoptosis. Thus, our data indicates that dephosphorylation of threonine-821 of Rb is required for cells to undergo apoptosis.

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