Integrated Stability and Activity Control of the Drosophila Rbf1 Retinoblastoma Protein [Protein Synthesis and Degradation]

July 21st, 2014 by Zhang, L., Wei, Y., Pushel, I., Heinze, K., Elenbaas, J., Henry, R. W., Arnosti, D. N.

Retinoblastoma (RB) family transcriptional corepressors regulate diverse cellular events including cell cycle, senescence, and differentiation. The activity and stability of these proteins are mediated by post-translational modifications, however we lack a general understanding of how distinct modifications coordinately impact both of these properties. Previously, we showed that protein turnover and activity are tightly linked through an evolutionarily conserved C-terminal instability element (IE) in the Drosophila RB-related protein Rbf1; surprisingly, mutant proteins with enhanced stability were less, not more active. To better understand how activity and turnover are controlled in this model RB protein, we assessed the impact of Cyclin-Cdk kinase regulation on Rbf1. An evolutionarily conserved N-terminal threonine residue is required for Cyclin-Cdk response, and showed a dominant impact on turnover and activity, however specific residues in the C terminal IE differentially impacted Rbf1 activity and turnover, indicating an additional level of regulation. Strikingly, specific IE mutations that impaired turnover but not activity induced dramatic developmental phenotypes in the Drosophila eye. Mutation of the highly conserved K774 residue induced hypermorphic phenotypes that mimicked the loss of phosphorylation control; mutation of the corresponding codon of the human RBL2 gene has been reported in lung tumors. Our data supports a model in which closely intermingled residues within the conserved IE govern protein turnover, presumably through interactions with E3 ligases, and protein activity, via contacts with E2F transcription partners. Such functional relationships are likely to similarly impact mammalian RB family proteins, with important implications for development and disease.