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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Expression proteomics of UPF1 knockdown in HeLa cells reveals autoregulation of hnRNP A2/B1 mediated by alternative splicing resulting in nonsense-mediated mRNA decay

Nicholas J McGlincy13, Lit-Yeen Tan1, Nicodeme Paul2, Mihaela Zavolan2, Kathryn S Lilley1 and Christopher WJ Smith1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge, CB2 1QW, UK

2 Biozentrum, University of Basel, Klingelbergstr. 50-70, CH 4056 Basel, Switzerland

3 MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 0QH, UK

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:565  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-565

Published: 14 October 2010

Abstract

Background

In addition to acting as an RNA quality control pathway, nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) plays roles in regulating normal gene expression. In particular, the extent to which alternative splicing is coupled to NMD and the roles of NMD in regulating uORF containing transcripts have been a matter of debate.

Results

In order to achieve a greater understanding of NMD regulated gene expression we used 2D-DiGE proteomics technology to examine the changes in protein expression induced in HeLa cells by UPF1 knockdown. QPCR based validation of the corresponding mRNAs, in response to both UPF1 knockdown and cycloheximide treatment, identified 17 bona fide NMD targets. Most of these were associated with bioinformatically predicted NMD activating features, predominantly upstream open reading frames (uORFs). Strikingly, however, the majority of transcripts up-regulated by UPF1 knockdown were either insensitive to, or even down-regulated by, cycloheximide treatment. Furthermore, the mRNA abundance of several down-regulated proteins failed to change upon UPF1 knockdown, indicating that UPF1's role in regulating mRNA and protein abundance is more complex than previously appreciated. Among the bona fide NMD targets, we identified a highly conserved AS-NMD event within the 3' UTR of the HNRNPA2B1 gene. Overexpression of GFP tagged hnRNP A2 resulted in a decrease in endogenous hnRNP A2 and B1 mRNA with a concurrent increase in the NMD sensitive isoforms.

Conclusions

Despite the large number of changes in protein expression upon UPF1 knockdown, a relatively small fraction of them can be directly attributed to the action of NMD on the corresponding mRNA. From amongst these we have identified a conserved AS-NMD event within HNRNPA2B1 that appears to mediate autoregulation of HNRNPA2B1 expression levels.