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Open Access Research article

Analysis of the role of COP9 Signalosome (CSN) subunits in K562; the first link between CSN and autophagy

Claire Pearce, Rachel E Hayden, Christopher M Bunce and Farhat L Khanim*

Author Affiliations

College of Life and Environmental Sciences, School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK

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BMC Cell Biology 2009, 10:31  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-10-31

Published: 28 April 2009

Abstract

Background

The COP9/signalosome (CSN) is a highly conserved eight subunit complex that, by deneddylating cullins in cullin-based E3 ubiquitin ligases, regulates protein degradation. Although studied in model human cell lines such as HeLa, very little is known about the role of the CSN in haemopoietic cells.

Results

Greater than 95% knockdown of the non-catalytic subunit CSN2 and the deneddylating subunit CSN5 of the CSN was achieved in the human myeloid progenitor cell line K562. CSN2 knockdown led to a reduction of both CSN5 protein and mRNA whilst CSN5 knockdown had little effect on CSN2. Both knockdowns inhibited CSN deneddylase function as demonstrated by accumulation of neddylated Cul1. Furthermore, both knockdowns resulted in the sequential loss of Skp2, Cdc4 and β-TrCP F-box proteins. These proteins were rescued by the proteasome inhibitor MG132, indicating the autocatalytic degradation of F-box proteins upon loss of CSN2 or CSN5. Interestingly, altered F-box protein gene expression was also observed in CSN2 and CSN5 knockdowns, suggesting a potential role of the CSN in regulating F-box protein transcription.

Loss of either CSN subunit dramatically reduced cell growth but resulted in distinct patterns of cell death. CSN5 knockdown caused mitotic defects, G2/M arrest and apoptotic cell death. CSN2 knockdown resulted in non-apoptotic cell death associated with accumulation of both the autophagy marker LC3-II and autophagic vacuoles. Treatment of vector control K562 cells with the autophagy inhibitors 3-methyladenine and bafilomycin A1 recapitulated the growth kinetics, vacuolar morphology and LC3-II accumulation of CSN2 knockdown cells indicating that the cellular phenotype of CSN2 cells arises from autophagy inhibition. Finally, loss of CSN2 was associated with the formation of a CSN5 containing subcomplex.

Conclusion

We conclude that CSN2 is required for CSN integrity and the stability of individual CSN subunits, and postulate that CSN2 loss results in a phenotype distinct from that of cells lacking CSN5 possibly as a consequence of altered CSN5 activity within a resultant CSN subcomplex. Our data present the first evidence for the sequential loss of F-box proteins upon CSN manipulation and are the first to identify a potential link between CSN function and autophagy.