Shut Down of Achaete-Scute Homolog-1 Expression by Heterogeneous Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP)-A2/B1 in Hypoxia [RNA]

August 14th, 2014 by Kasim, M., Benko, E., Winkelmann, A., Mrowka, R., Staudacher, J. J., Persson, P. B., Scholz, H., Meier, J. C., Fahling, M.

The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor hASH1, encoded by the ASCL1 gene, plays an important role in neurogenesis and tumor development. Recent findings indicate that the local oxygen tension is a critical determinant for the progression of neuroblastomas. Here we investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying the oxygen-dependent expression of hASH1 in neuroblastoma cells. Exposure of human neuroblastoma-derived Kelly cells to 1% O2 significantly decreased ASCL1 mRNA and hASH1 protein levels. Using reporter gene assays, we show that the response of hASH1 to hypoxia is mediated mainly by post-transcriptional inhibition via the ASCL1 mRNA 5`- and 3`-UTRs, while additional inhibition of the ASCL1 promoter was observed under prolonged hypoxia. By RNA pull-down experiments followed by MALDI/TOF-MS analysis, we identified heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP)-A2/B1 and hnRNP-R as interactors binding directly to the ASCL1 mRNA 5`- and 3`-UTRs and influencing its expression. We further demonstrate that hnRNP-A2/B1 is a key positive regulator of ASCL1, findings that were also confirmed by analysis of a large compilation of gene expression data. Our data suggest that a prominent down-regulation of hnRNP-A2/B1 during hypoxia is associated with the post-transcriptional suppression of hASH1 synthesis. This novel post-transcriptional mechanism for regulating hASH1 levels will have important implications in neural cell fate development and disease.