Nucleolin phosphorylation regulates PARN deadenylase activity during cellular stress response

<p>Nucleolin (NCL) is an abundant stress-responsive, RNA-binding phosphoprotein that controls gene expression by regulating either mRNA stability and/or translation. NCL binds to the AU-rich element (ARE) in the 3′UTR of target mRNAs, mediates miRNA functions in the nearby target sequences, and regulates mRNA deadenylation. However, the mechanism by which NCL phosphorylation affects these functions and the identity of the deadenylase involved, remain largely unexplored. Earlier we demonstrated that NCL phosphorylation is vital for cell cycle progression and proliferation, whereas phosphorylation-deficient NCL at six consensus CK2 sites confers dominant-negative effect on proliferation by increasing p53 expression, possibly mimicking cellular DNA damage conditions. In this study, we show that NCL phosphorylation at those CK2 consensus sites in the N-terminus is necessary to induce deadenylation upon oncogenic stimuli and UV stress. NCL-WT, but not hypophosphorylated NCL-6/S*A, activates poly (A)-specific ribonuclease (PARN) deadenylase activity. We further demonstrate that NCL interacts directly with PARN, and under non-stress conditions also forms (a) complex (es) with factors that regulate deadenylation, such as p53 and the ARE-binding protein HuR. Upon UV stress, the interaction of hypophosphorylated NCL-6/S*A with these proteins is favored. As an RNA-binding protein, NCL interacts with PARN deadenylase substrates such as <i>TP53</i> and <i>BCL2</i> mRNAs, playing a role in their downregulation under non-stress conditions. For the first time, we show that NCL phosphorylation offers specificity to its protein-protein, protein-RNA interactions, resulting in the PARN deadenylase regulation, and hence gene expression, during cellular stress responses.</p>