G2Cdb::Gene report

Gene id
Gene symbol
Homo sapiens
serine threonine kinase 39
G00001166 (Mus musculus)

Databases (7)

ENSG00000198648 (Ensembl human gene)
27347 (Entrez Gene)
55 (G2Cdb plasticity & disease)
STK39 (GeneCards)
607648 (OMIM)
Marker Symbol
HGNC:17717 (HGNC)
Protein Sequence
Q9UEW8 (UniProt)

Synonyms (2)

  • DCHT
  • SPAK

Literature (25)

Pubmed - other

  • STK39 polymorphisms and blood pressure: an association study in British Caucasians and assessment of cis-acting influences on gene expression.

    Cunnington MS, Kay C, Avery PJ, Mayosi BM, Koref MS and Keavney B

    Institute of Human Genetics, Newcastle University, Central Parkway, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3BZ, UK. mike.cunnington@ncl.ac.uk

    Background: Blood pressure (BP) has significant heritability, but the genes responsible remain largely unknown. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at the STK39 locus were recently associated with hypertension by genome-wide association in an Amish population; in vitro data from transient transfection experiments using reporter constructs suggested that altered STK39 expression might mediate the effect. However, other large studies have not implicated STK39 in hypertension. We determined whether reported SNPs influenced STK39 expression in vivo, or were associated with BP in a large British Caucasian cohort.

    Methods: 1372 members of 247 Caucasian families ascertained through a hypertensive proband were genotyped for reported risk variants in STK39 (rs6749447, rs3754777, rs35929607) using Sequenom technology. MERLIN software was used for family-based association testing. Cis-acting influences on expression were assessed in vivo using allelic expression ratios in cDNA from peripheral blood cells in 35 South African individuals heterozygous for a transcribed SNP in STK39 (rs1061471) and quantified by mass spectrometry (Sequenom).

    Results: No significant association was seen between the SNPs tested and systolic or diastolic BP in clinic or ambulatory measurements (all p > 0.05). The tested SNPs were all associated with allelic expression differences in peripheral blood cells (p < 0.05), with the most significant association for the intronic SNP rs6749447 (P = 9.9 x 10-4). In individuals who were heterozygous for this SNP, on average the G allele showed 13% overexpression compared to the T allele.

    Conclusions: STK39 expression is modified by polymorphisms acting in cis and the typed SNPs are associated with allelic expression of this gene, but there is no evidence for an association with BP in a British Caucasian cohort.

    Funded by: British Heart Foundation: RG/08/012/25941; Wellcome Trust

    BMC medical genetics 2009;10;135

  • Epigenetic silencing of Stk39 in B-cell lymphoma inhibits apoptosis from genotoxic stress.

    Balatoni CE, Dawson DW, Suh J, Sherman MH, Sanders G, Hong JS, Frank MJ, Malone CS, Said JW and Teitell MA

    Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

    B-cell lymphomas, the most frequent human immune system malignancies, often contain dysregulated TCL1 oncogene expression. TCL1 transgenic (TCL1-tg) mice develop a spectrum of B-cell malignancies, supporting an oncogenic role for TCL1 in B cells. Our prior global survey of DNA methylation patterns in TCL1-tg B-cell lymphomas identified many lymphoma-specific candidate hypermethylated genes, including Stk39. The Stk39 encoded protein, sterile 20-like-related proline-alanine-rich kinase (SPAK), regulates cell stress responses, and microarray studies identified reduced SPAK expression in metastatic prostate and treatment-resistant breast cancers, suggesting that its loss may have a role in cancer progression. Here we identified DNA hypermethylation and SPAK silencing in TCL1-tg B-cell lymphomas and SPAK silencing without DNA methylation in multiple subtypes of human B-cell lymphomas. SPAK knockdown by shRNA protected B cells from caspase-dependent apoptosis induced by DNA double-strand breaks but not apoptosis in response to osmotic or oxidative cell stressors. Caspase 3 activation by cleavage was impaired with SPAK repression in DNA damaged B cells. Interestingly, c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase is potentially activated by SPAK and pharmacological inhibition of c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase in SPAK-expressing B cells recapitulated the cell-protective phenotype of SPAK knockdown. Taken together, these data indicate that SPAK loss in B-cell lymphomas promotes increased cell survival with DNA damage and provides a potential mechanism for increased resistance to genotoxic stress in cancer.

    Funded by: NCI NIH HHS: R01 CA090571, R01 CA107300, R01CA107300, R01CA90571, T32 CA009120, T32CA009120; NEI NIH HHS: PN2 EY018228, PN2EY018228; NIGMS NIH HHS: R01 GM073981, R01GM073981, R15 GM080683, R15GM080683

    The American journal of pathology 2009;175;4;1653-61

  • Genome-wide analysis of survival in early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer.

    Huang YT, Heist RS, Chirieac LR, Lin X, Skaug V, Zienolddiny S, Haugen A, Wu MC, Wang Z, Su L, Asomaning K and Christiani DC

    Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

    Purpose: Lung cancer, of which 85% is non-small-cell (NSCLC), is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. We used genome-wide analysis of tumor tissue to investigate whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in tumors are prognostic factors in early-stage NSCLC.

    One hundred early-stage NSCLC patients from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) were used as a discovery set and 89 NSCLC patients collected by the National Institute of Occupational Health, Norway, were used as a validation set. DNA was extracted from flash-frozen lung tissue with at least 70% tumor cellularity. Genome-wide genotyping was done using the high-density SNP chip. Copy numbers were inferred using median smoothing after intensity normalization. Cox models were used to screen and validate significant SNPs associated with the overall survival.

    Results: Copy number gains in chromosomes 3q, 5p, and 8q were observed in both MGH and Norwegian cohorts. The top 50 SNPs associated with overall survival in the MGH cohort (P < or = 2.5 x 10(-4)) were selected and examined using the Norwegian cohort. Five of the top 50 SNPs were validated in the Norwegian cohort with false discovery rate lower than 0.05 (P < .016) and all five were located in known genes: STK39, PCDH7, A2BP1, and EYA2. The numbers of risk alleles of the five SNPs showed a cumulative effect on overall survival (P(trend) = 3.80 x 10(-12) and 2.48 x 10(-7) for MGH and Norwegian cohorts, respectively).

    Conclusion: Five SNPs were identified that may be prognostic of overall survival in early-stage NSCLC.

    Funded by: NCI NIH HHS: CA074386, CA090578, CA092824, P20 CA090578, P50 CA090578, R01 CA074386, R01 CA092824; NIEHS NIH HHS: T32 ES007142

    Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2009;27;16;2660-7

  • Renal and brain isoforms of WNK3 have opposite effects on NCCT expression.

    Glover M, Zuber AM and O'Shaughnessy KM

    Clinical Pharmacology Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

    Mutations in the WNK kinases WNK1 and WNK4 cause a rare familial form of hypertension (Gordon syndrome) by increasing expression of the thiazide-sensitive co-transporter NCCT in the kidney. Regulation of NCCT expression involves a scaffold of proteins composed of several kinases, including the third member of the WNK kinase family, WNK3. This protein, expressed in several tissues including kidney and brain, displays splice variation around exons 18 and 22. We expressed these proteins in Xenopus oocytes and found that the renal isoform of WNK3 increased but the brain isoform decreased NCCT expression and activity. Introduction of a kinase-inactivating mutation into renal WNK3 reversed its action on NCCT, and the same mutation in the brain isoforms led to loss of function. We also studied the effect of phosphorylation of a key NCCT threonine (T58) on the effects of WNK3/4 coexpression; NCCT mutants with a T58A or T58D substitution had the same surface expression as T58 but had significantly altered transporter activity; however, both isoforms of WNK3 as well as WNK4 still modulated expression of these NCCT mutants. Finally, experiments using kinase-dead STE20/SPS1-related proline/alanine-rich kinase (SPAK), a putative downstream target for WNKs, revealed that brain WNK3 acts in tandem with SPAK, whereas renal WNK3 seems to upregulate NCCT through a SPAK-independent pathway. Taken together, these results suggest that the C-terminal motifs contributed by exons 18 and 22 play an important role in the actions of WNK3 isoforms on NCCT.

    Funded by: British Heart Foundation

    Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN 2009;20;6;1314-22

  • From the Cover: Whole-genome association study identifies STK39 as a hypertension susceptibility gene.

    Wang Y, O'Connell JR, McArdle PF, Wade JB, Dorff SE, Shah SJ, Shi X, Pan L, Rampersaud E, Shen H, Kim JD, Subramanya AR, Steinle NI, Parsa A, Ober CC, Welling PA, Chakravarti A, Weder AB, Cooper RS, Mitchell BD, Shuldiner AR and Chang YP

    Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.

    Hypertension places a major burden on individual and public health, but the genetic basis of this complex disorder is poorly understood. We conducted a genome-wide association study of systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP) in Amish subjects and found strong association signals with common variants in a serine/threonine kinase gene, STK39. We confirmed this association in an independent Amish and 4 non-Amish Caucasian samples including the Diabetes Genetics Initiative, Framingham Heart Study, GenNet, and Hutterites (meta-analysis combining all studies: n = 7,125, P < 10(-6)). The higher BP-associated alleles have frequencies > 0.09 and were associated with increases of 3.3/1.3 mm Hg in SBP/DBP, respectively, in the Amish subjects and with smaller but consistent effects across the non-Amish studies. Cell-based functional studies showed that STK39 interacts with WNK kinases and cation-chloride cotransporters, mutations in which cause monogenic forms of BP dysregulation. We demonstrate that in vivo, STK39 is expressed in the distal nephron, where it may interact with these proteins. Although none of the associated SNPs alter protein structure, we identified and experimentally confirmed a highly conserved intronic element with allele-specific in vitro transcription activity as a functional candidate for this association. Thus, variants in STK39 may influence BP by increasing STK39 expression and consequently altering renal Na(+) excretion, thus unifying rare and common BP-regulating alleles in the same physiological pathway.

    Funded by: NHLBI NIH HHS: R01 HL076768, R01 HL076768-02, R01 HL088120, U01 HL072515, U01 HL084756, U01 HL72515-01; NIDDK NIH HHS: DK32839, F32 DK072865, R01 DK032839, R01 DK054261, R01 DK54261-07

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2009;106;1;226-31

  • Ste20-related proline/alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) regulated transcriptionally by hyperosmolarity is involved in intestinal barrier function.

    Yan Y, Dalmasso G, Nguyen HT, Obertone TS, Sitaraman SV and Merlin D

    Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA. yyan2@emory.edu

    The Ste20-related protein proline/alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) plays important roles in cellular functions such as cell differentiation and regulation of chloride transport, but its roles in pathogenesis of intestinal inflammation remain largely unknown. Here we report significantly increased SPAK expression levels in hyperosmotic environments, such as mucosal biopsy samples from patients with Crohn's disease, as well as colon tissues of C57BL/6 mice and Caco2-BBE cells treated with hyperosmotic medium. NF-kappaB and Sp1-binding sites in the SPAK TATA-less promoter are essential for SPAK mRNA transcription. Hyperosmolarity increases the ability of NF-kappaB and Sp1 to bind to their binding sites. Knock-down of either NF-kappaB or Sp1 by siRNA reduces the hyperosmolarity-induced SPAK expression levels. Furthermore, expression of NF-kappaB, but not Sp1, was upregulated by hyperosmolarity in vivo and in vitro. Nuclear run-on assays showed that hyperosmolarity increases SPAK expression levels at the transcriptional level, without affecting SPAK mRNA stability. Knockdown of SPAK expression by siRNA or overexpression of SPAK in cells and transgenic mice shows that SPAK is involved in intestinal permeability in vitro and in vivo. Together, our data suggest that SPAK, the transcription of which is regulated by hyperosmolarity, plays an important role in epithelial barrier function.

    Funded by: NIDDK NIH HHS: R01 DK055850, R01 DK061941, R01-DK-061941, R01-DK55850, R24 DK064399, R24-DK-064399

    PloS one 2009;4;4;e5049

  • An analysis of candidate autism loci on chromosome 2q24-q33: evidence for association to the STK39 gene.

    Ramoz N, Cai G, Reichert JG, Silverman JM and Buxbaum JD

    Laboratory of Molecular Neuropsychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.

    A susceptibility locus for autism was identified to the chromosome 2q24-q33 region in independent cohorts of families, especially in subsets clinically defined with phrase speech delay (PSD). In the present work, we screened 84 linkage-informative SNPs covering this locus in a cohort of 334 families with autism and in subsets identified with PSD. We observed linkage to autism with the highest non-parametric linkage score (NPL) of 2.79 (P = 0.002) in the PSD subset with at least two affected subjects. In addition, using a set of 109 additional gene-oriented SNPs in this interval we observed that several SNPs encompassing the SLC25A12 gene provided the maximum evidence for linkage (NPL = 3.32, P = 0.0003). Using the transmission disequilibrium test to test for associations, we observed significant over-transmissions of rs2056202 (P = 0.006) within the SLC25A12 gene, rs1807984 (P = 0.007) within the STK39 gene, and rs2305586 (P = 0.009) within the ITGA4 gene. We also found evidence for association between autism and two other SNPs (rs1517342, P = 0.012 and rs971257, P = 0.030) or haplotypes (P = 0.003) of the STK39 gene. STK39 encodes a serine/threonine kinase (SPAK/PASK/STE20-SPS1 homolog) abundantly expressed in the brain with roles in cell differentiation, cell transformation and proliferation, and in regulation of ion transporters. In summary, we have observed further evidence for linkage and association between autism and loci within the 2q24-q33 region, including at STK39, a novel candidate gene for autism.

    Funded by: NIMH NIH HHS: MH-066673, MH64547; NINDS NIH HHS: NS-042165

    American journal of medical genetics. Part B, Neuropsychiatric genetics : the official publication of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics 2008;147B;7;1152-8

  • Nuclear factor-kappaB is a critical mediator of Ste20-like proline-/alanine-rich kinase regulation in intestinal inflammation.

    Yan Y, Dalmasso G, Nguyen HT, Obertone TS, Charrier-Hisamuddin L, Sitaraman SV and Merlin D

    Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.

    Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is thought to result from commensal flora, aberrant cellular stress, and genetic factors. Here we show that the expression of colonic Ste20-like proline-/alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) that lacks a PAPA box and an F-alpha helix loop is increased in patients with IBD. The same effects were observed in a mouse model of dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitis and in Caco2-BBE cells treated with the pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha. The 5'-flanking region of the SPAK gene contains two transcriptional start sites, three transcription factor Sp1-binding sites, and one transcription factor nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB-binding site, but no TATA elements. The NF-kappaB-binding site was essential for stimulated SPAK promoter activity by TNF-alpha, whereas the Sp1-binding sites were important for basal promoter activity. siRNA-induced knockdown of NF-kappaB, but not of Sp1, reduced TNF-alpha-induced SPAK expression. Nuclear run-on and mRNA decay assays demonstrated that TNF-alpha directly increased SPAK mRNA transcription without affecting SPAK mRNA stability. Furthermore, up-regulation of NF-kappaB expression and demethylation of the CpG islands induced by TNF-alpha also played roles in the up-regulation of SPAK expression. In conclusion, our data indicate that during inflammatory conditions, TNF-alpha is a key regulator of SPAK expression. The development of compounds that can either modulate or disrupt the activity of SPAK-mediated pathways is therefore important for the control and attenuation of downstream pathological responses, particularly in IBD.

    Funded by: NIDDK NIH HHS: R01 DK055850, R01 DK061941, R01 DK071594, R01-DK-061941, R01-DK-071594, R01-DK55850, R24 DK064399, R24-DK-064399

    The American journal of pathology 2008;173;4;1013-28

  • PKCdelta acts upstream of SPAK in the activation of NKCC1 by hyperosmotic stress in human airway epithelial cells.

    Smith L, Smallwood N, Altman A and Liedtke CM

    Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.

    Airway epithelial Na-K-2Cl (NKCC1) cotransport is activated through hormonal stimulation and hyperosmotic stress via a protein kinase C (PKC) delta-mediated intracellular signaling pathway. Down-regulation of PKCdelta prevents activation of NKCC1 expressed in Calu-3 cells. Previous studies of this signaling pathway identified coimmunoprecipitation of PKCdelta with SPAK (Ste20-related proline alanine-rich kinase). We hypothesize that endogenous PKCdelta activates SPAK, which subsequently activates NKCC1 through phosphorylation. Double-stranded silencing RNA directed against SPAK reduced SPAK protein expression by 65.8% and prevented increased phosphorylation of NKCC1 and functional activation of NKCC1 during hyperosmotic stress, measured as bumetanide-sensitive basolateral to apical (86)Rb flux. Using recombinant proteins, we demonstrate direct binding of PKCdelta to SPAK, PKCdelta-mediated activation of SPAK, binding of SPAK to the amino terminus of NKCC1 (NT-NKCC1, amino acids 1-286), and competitive inhibition of SPAK-NKCC1 binding by a peptide encoding a SPAK binding site on NT-NKCC1. The carboxyl terminus of SPAK (amino acids 316-548) pulls down endogenous NKCC1 from Calu-3 total cell lysates and glutathione S-transferase-tagged NT-NKCC1 pulls down endogenous SPAK. In intact cells, hyperosmotic stress increased phosphorylated PKCdelta, indicating activation of PKCdelta, and activity of endogenous SPAK kinase. Inhibition of PKCdelta activity with rottlerin blocked the increase in SPAK kinase activity. The results indicate that PKCdelta acts upstream of SPAK to increase activity of NKCC1 during hyperosmotic stress.

    Funded by: NCI NIH HHS: CA-35299; NHLBI NIH HHS: HL-58598

    The Journal of biological chemistry 2008;283;32;22147-56

  • Activation of the thiazide-sensitive Na+-Cl- cotransporter by the WNK-regulated kinases SPAK and OSR1.

    Richardson C, Rafiqi FH, Karlsson HK, Moleleki N, Vandewalle A, Campbell DG, Morrice NA and Alessi DR

    MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, MSI/WTB complex, University of Dundee, Dow Street, Dundee, DD1 5EH, UK. c.j.z.richardson@dundee.ac.uk

    Mutations increasing WNK1 kinase expression in humans cause the pseudohypoaldosteronism type II hypertension syndrome. This condition is treated effectively by thiazide diuretics, which exert their effects by inhibiting the Na+-Cl(-) cotransporter (NCC), suggesting a link between WNK1 and NCC. Here, we demonstrate that the SPAK and OSR1 kinases that are activated by WNK1 phosphorylate human NCC at three conserved residues (Thr46, Thr55 and Thr60). Activation of the WNK1-SPAK/OSR1 signalling pathway by treatment of HEK293 or mpkDCT kidney distal-convoluted-tubule-derived cells with hypotonic low-chloride conditions induced phosphorylation of NCC at residues phosphorylated by SPAK/OSR1. Efficient phosphorylation of NCC was dependent upon a docking interaction between an RFXI motif in NCC and SPAK/OSR1. Mutation of Thr60 to Ala in NCC markedly inhibited phosphorylation of Thr46 and Thr55 as well as NCC activation induced by hypotonic low-chloride treatment of HEK293 cells. Our results establish that the WNK1-SPAK/OSR1 signalling pathway plays a key role in controlling the phosphorylation and activity of NCC. They also suggest a mechanism by which increased WNK1 overexpression could lead to hypertension and that inhibitors of SPAK/OSR1 might be of use in reducing blood pressure by suppressing phosphorylation and hence activity of NCC.

    Funded by: Medical Research Council: MC_U127070193

    Journal of cell science 2008;121;Pt 5;675-84

  • Cloning and characterization of a new intestinal inflammation-associated colonic epithelial Ste20-related protein kinase isoform.

    Yan Y, Nguyen H, Dalmasso G, Sitaraman SV and Merlin D

    Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, Emory University School of Medicine, 615 Michael Street, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.

    Intestinal epithelial cells respond to inflammatory extracellular stimuli by activating mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, which mediates numerous pathophysiological effects, including intestinal inflammation. Here, we show that a novel isoform of SPS1-related proline alanine-rich kinase (SPAK/STE20) is involved in this inflammatory signaling cascade. We cloned and characterized a SPAK isoform from inflamed colon tissue, and found that this SPAK isoform lacked the characteristic PAPA box and alphaF loop found in SPAK. Based on genomic sequence analysis the lack of PAPA box and alphaF loop in colonic SPAK isoform was the result of specific splicing that affect exon 1 and exon 7 of the SPAK gene. The SPAK isoform was found in inflamed and non-inflamed colon tissues as well as Caco2-BBE cells, but not in other tissues, such as liver, spleen, brain, prostate and kidney. In vitro analyses demonstrated that the SPAK isoform possessed serine/threonine kinase activity, which could be abolished by a substitution of isoleucine for the lysine at position 34 in the ATP-binding site of the catalytic domain. Treatment of Caco2-BBE cells with the pro-inflammatory cytokine, interferon gamma, induced expression of the SPAK isoform. Over-expression of the SPAK isoform in Caco2-BBE cells led to nuclear translocation of an N-terminal fragment of the SPAK isoform, as well as activation of p38 MAP kinase signaling cascades and increased intestinal barrier permeability. These findings collectively suggest that pro-inflammatory cytokine signaling may induce expression of this novel SPAK isoform in intestinal epithelia, triggering the signaling cascades that govern intestinal inflammation.

    Funded by: NIDDK NIH HHS: R01 DK 061941-02, R01 DK 55850, R01 DK055850, R01 DK061941, R01 DK071594, R24 DK 064399, R24 DK064399

    Biochimica et biophysica acta 2007;1769;2;106-16

  • Global, in vivo, and site-specific phosphorylation dynamics in signaling networks.

    Olsen JV, Blagoev B, Gnad F, Macek B, Kumar C, Mortensen P and Mann M

    Center for Experimental BioInformatics, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, DK-5230 Odense, Denmark.

    Cell signaling mechanisms often transmit information via posttranslational protein modifications, most importantly reversible protein phosphorylation. Here we develop and apply a general mass spectrometric technology for identification and quantitation of phosphorylation sites as a function of stimulus, time, and subcellular location. We have detected 6,600 phosphorylation sites on 2,244 proteins and have determined their temporal dynamics after stimulating HeLa cells with epidermal growth factor (EGF) and recorded them in the Phosida database. Fourteen percent of phosphorylation sites are modulated at least 2-fold by EGF, and these were classified by their temporal profiles. Surprisingly, a majority of proteins contain multiple phosphorylation sites showing different kinetics, suggesting that they serve as platforms for integrating signals. In addition to protein kinase cascades, the targets of reversible phosphorylation include ubiquitin ligases, guanine nucleotide exchange factors, and at least 46 different transcriptional regulators. The dynamic phosphoproteome provides a missing link in a global, integrative view of cellular regulation.

    Cell 2006;127;3;635-48

  • TRAIL-induced cleavage and inactivation of SPAK sensitizes cells to apoptosis.

    Polek TC, Talpaz M and Spivak-Kroizman TR

    Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

    Ste20-related proline-alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) has been linked to various cellular processes, including proliferation, differentiation, and ion transport regulation. Recently, we showed that SPAK mediates signaling by the TNF receptor, RELT. The presence of a caspase cleavage site in SPAK prompted us to study its involvement in apoptotic signaling induced by another TNF member, TRAIL. We show that TRAIL stimulated caspase 3-like proteases that cleaved SPAK at two distinct sites. Cleavage had little effect on the activity of SPAK but removed its substrate-binding domain. In addition, TRAIL reduced the activity of SPAK in HeLa cells in a caspase-independent manner. Thus, TRAIL inhibited SPAK by two mechanisms: activation of caspases, which removed its substrate-binding domain, and caspase-independent down-regulation of SPAK activity. Furthermore, reducing the amount of SPAK by siRNA increased the sensitivity of HeLa cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Thus, TRAIL down-regulation of SPAK is an important event that enhances its apoptotic effects.

    Funded by: NCI NIH HHS: CA-16672

    Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2006;349;3;1016-24

  • A probability-based approach for high-throughput protein phosphorylation analysis and site localization.

    Beausoleil SA, Villén J, Gerber SA, Rush J and Gygi SP

    Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, 240 Longwood Ave., Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.

    Data analysis and interpretation remain major logistical challenges when attempting to identify large numbers of protein phosphorylation sites by nanoscale reverse-phase liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) (Supplementary Figure 1 online). In this report we address challenges that are often only addressable by laborious manual validation, including data set error, data set sensitivity and phosphorylation site localization. We provide a large-scale phosphorylation data set with a measured error rate as determined by the target-decoy approach, we demonstrate an approach to maximize data set sensitivity by efficiently distracting incorrect peptide spectral matches (PSMs), and we present a probability-based score, the Ascore, that measures the probability of correct phosphorylation site localization based on the presence and intensity of site-determining ions in MS/MS spectra. We applied our methods in a fully automated fashion to nocodazole-arrested HeLa cell lysate where we identified 1,761 nonredundant phosphorylation sites from 491 proteins with a peptide false-positive rate of 1.3%.

    Funded by: NHGRI NIH HHS: HG03456; NIGMS NIH HHS: GM67945

    Nature biotechnology 2006;24;10;1285-92

  • Functional interactions of the SPAK/OSR1 kinases with their upstream activator WNK1 and downstream substrate NKCC1.

    Vitari AC, Thastrup J, Rafiqi FH, Deak M, Morrice NA, Karlsson HK and Alessi DR

    MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, School of Life Sciences, MSI/WTB complex, University of Dundee, Dow Street, Dundee DD1 5EH, Scotland, UK. a.c.vitari@dundee.ac.uk

    The SPAK (STE20/SPS1-related proline/alanine-rich kinase) and OSR1 (oxidative stress-responsive kinase-1) kinases interact and phosphorylate NKCC1 (Na+-K+-2Cl- co-transporter-1), leading to its activation. Recent studies indicated that SPAK and OSR1 are phosphorylated and activated by the WNK1 [with no K (lysine) protein kinase-1] and WNK4, genes mutated in humans affected by Gordon's hypertension syndrome. In the present study, we have identified three residues in NKCC1 (Thr175/Thr179/Thr184 in shark or Thr203/Thr207/Thr212 in human) that are phosphorylated by SPAK and OSR1, and have developed a peptide substrate, CATCHtide (cation chloride co-transporter peptide substrate), to assess SPAK and OSR1 activity. Exposure of HEK-293 (human embryonic kidney) cells to osmotic stress, which leads to phosphorylation and activation of NKCC1, increased phosphorylation of NKCC1 at the sites targeted by SPAK/OSR1. The residues on NKCC1, phosphorylated by SPAK/OSR1, are conserved in other cation co-transporters, such as the Na+-Cl- co-transporter, the target of thiazide drugs that lower blood pressure in humans with Gordon's syndrome. Furthermore, we characterize the properties of a 92-residue CCT (conserved C-terminal) domain on SPAK and OSR1 that interacts with an RFXV (Arg-Phe-Xaa-Val) motif present in the substrate NKCC1 and its activators WNK1/WNK4. A peptide containing the RFXV motif interacts with nanomolar affinity with the CCT domains of SPAK/OSR1 and can be utilized to affinity-purify SPAK and OSR1 from cell extracts. Mutation of the arginine, phenylalanine or valine residue within this peptide abolishes binding to SPAK/OSR1. We have identified specific residues within the CCT domain that are required for interaction with the RFXV motif and have demonstrated that mutation of these in OSR1 inhibited phosphorylation of NKCC1, but not of CATCHtide which does not possess an RFXV motif. We establish that an intact CCT domain is required for WNK1 to efficiently phosphorylate and activate OSR1. These data establish that the CCT domain functions as a multipurpose docking site, enabling SPAK/OSR1 to interact with substrates (NKCC1) and activators (WNK1/WNK4).

    Funded by: Medical Research Council: MC_U127070193

    The Biochemical journal 2006;397;1;223-31

  • The TNF receptor, RELT, binds SPAK and uses it to mediate p38 and JNK activation.

    Polek TC, Talpaz M and Spivak-Kroizman T

    Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

    Receptor expressed in lymphoid tissues (RELT) is a new member of the TNFR family with little known regarding its signaling. Typically, TNFRs engage TRAFs for activation of NF-kappaB and MAPK cascades. We found that RELT does not use the standard signaling pathways characteristic of other TNFRs. While overexpression of RELT in 293 cells induced p38 and JNK activation, it did not activate NF-kappaB. In addition, no binding of RELT to TRAF1,2,3,5, or 6 was detected. Using a yeast two-hybrid system, we identified a Ste20-related proline-alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) that binds RELT. Disruption of the SPAK binding motif, 349RFRV, in RELT inhibited RELT activation of p38 and JNK. In addition, a kinase-dead SPAK acted as an inhibitor of RELT signaling. Thus, we conclude that RELT does not rely on the canonical TRAF pathways for its function, but instead uses a kinase, SPAK, to mediate p38 and JNK activation.

    Funded by: NCI NIH HHS: CA-16672

    Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2006;343;1;125-34

  • Volume sensitivity of cation-Cl- cotransporters is modulated by the interaction of two kinases: Ste20-related proline-alanine-rich kinase and WNK4.

    Gagnon KB, England R and Delpire E

    Dept. of Anesthesiology, Vanderbilt Univ. Medical Center, T-4202 Medical Center North, 1161 21st Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.

    In the present study, we have demonstrated functional interaction between Ste20-related proline-alanine-rich kinase (SPAK), WNK4 [with no lysine (K)], and the widely expressed Na+-K+-2Cl- cotransporter type 1 (NKCC1). NKCC1 function, which we measured in Xenopus laevis oocytes under both isosmotic (basal) and hyperosmotic (stimulated) conditions, was unaffected when SPAK and WNK4 were expressed alone. In contrast, expression of both kinases with NKCC1 resulted in a significant increase in cotransporter activity and an insensitivity to external osmolarity or cell volume. NKCC1 activation is dependent on the catalytic activity of SPAK and likely also of WNK4, because mutations in their catalytic domains result in an absence of cotransporter stimulation. The results of our yeast two-hybrid experiments suggest that WNK4 does not interact directly with NKCC1 but does interact with SPAK. Functional experiments demonstrated that the binding of SPAK to WNK4 was also required because a SPAK-interaction-deficient WNK4 mutant (Phe997Ala) did not increase NKCC1 activity. We also have shown that the transport function of K+-Cl- cotransporter type 2 (KCC2), a neuron-specific KCl cotransporter, was diminished by the expression of both kinases under both isosmotic and hyposmotic conditions. Our data are consistent with WNK4 interacting with SPAK, which in turn phosphorylates and activates NKCC1 and phosphorylates and deactivates KCC2.

    Funded by: NINDS NIH HHS: NS-36758

    American journal of physiology. Cell physiology 2006;290;1;C134-42

  • WNK1 regulates phosphorylation of cation-chloride-coupled cotransporters via the STE20-related kinases, SPAK and OSR1.

    Moriguchi T, Urushiyama S, Hisamoto N, Iemura S, Uchida S, Natsume T, Matsumoto K and Shibuya H

    Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Medical Research Institute and School of Biomedical Science, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, and CREST, JST, Chiyoda, Tokyo 101-0062.

    The WNK1 and WNK4 genes have been found to be mutated in some patients with hyperkalemia and hypertension caused by pseudohypoaldosteronism type II. The clue to the pathophysiology of pseudohypoaldosteronism type II was its striking therapeutic response to thiazide diuretics, which are known to block the sodium chloride cotransporter (NCC). Although this suggests a role for WNK1 in hypertension, the precise molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. Here we have shown that WNK1 phosphorylates and regulates the STE20-related kinases, Ste20-related proline-alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) and oxidative stress response 1 (OSR1). WNK1 was observed to phosphorylate the evolutionary conserved serine residue located outside the kinase domains of SPAK and OSR1, and mutation of the OSR1 serine residue caused enhanced OSR1 kinase activity. In addition, hypotonic stress was shown to activate SPAK and OSR1 and induce phosphorylation of the conserved OSR1 serine residue, suggesting that WNK1 may be an activator of the SPAK and OSR1 kinases. Moreover, SPAK and OSR1 were found to directly phosphorylate the N-terminal regulatory regions of cation-chloride-coupled cotransporters including NKCC1, NKCC2, and NCC. Phosphorylation of NCC was induced by hypotonic stress in cells. These results suggested that WNK1 and SPAK/OSR1 mediate the hypotonic stress signaling pathway to the transporters and may provide insights into the mechanisms by which WNK1 regulates ion balance.

    The Journal of biological chemistry 2005;280;52;42685-93

  • Complete sequencing and characterization of 21,243 full-length human cDNAs.

    Ota T, Suzuki Y, Nishikawa T, Otsuki T, Sugiyama T, Irie R, Wakamatsu A, Hayashi K, Sato H, Nagai K, Kimura K, Makita H, Sekine M, Obayashi M, Nishi T, Shibahara T, Tanaka T, Ishii S, Yamamoto J, Saito K, Kawai Y, Isono Y, Nakamura Y, Nagahari K, Murakami K, Yasuda T, Iwayanagi T, Wagatsuma M, Shiratori A, Sudo H, Hosoiri T, Kaku Y, Kodaira H, Kondo H, Sugawara M, Takahashi M, Kanda K, Yokoi T, Furuya T, Kikkawa E, Omura Y, Abe K, Kamihara K, Katsuta N, Sato K, Tanikawa M, Yamazaki M, Ninomiya K, Ishibashi T, Yamashita H, Murakawa K, Fujimori K, Tanai H, Kimata M, Watanabe M, Hiraoka S, Chiba Y, Ishida S, Ono Y, Takiguchi S, Watanabe S, Yosida M, Hotuta T, Kusano J, Kanehori K, Takahashi-Fujii A, Hara H, Tanase TO, Nomura Y, Togiya S, Komai F, Hara R, Takeuchi K, Arita M, Imose N, Musashino K, Yuuki H, Oshima A, Sasaki N, Aotsuka S, Yoshikawa Y, Matsunawa H, Ichihara T, Shiohata N, Sano S, Moriya S, Momiyama H, Satoh N, Takami S, Terashima Y, Suzuki O, Nakagawa S, Senoh A, Mizoguchi H, Goto Y, Shimizu F, Wakebe H, Hishigaki H, Watanabe T, Sugiyama A, Takemoto M, Kawakami B, Yamazaki M, Watanabe K, Kumagai A, Itakura S, Fukuzumi Y, Fujimori Y, Komiyama M, Tashiro H, Tanigami A, Fujiwara T, Ono T, Yamada K, Fujii Y, Ozaki K, Hirao M, Ohmori Y, Kawabata A, Hikiji T, Kobatake N, Inagaki H, Ikema Y, Okamoto S, Okitani R, Kawakami T, Noguchi S, Itoh T, Shigeta K, Senba T, Matsumura K, Nakajima Y, Mizuno T, Morinaga M, Sasaki M, Togashi T, Oyama M, Hata H, Watanabe M, Komatsu T, Mizushima-Sugano J, Satoh T, Shirai Y, Takahashi Y, Nakagawa K, Okumura K, Nagase T, Nomura N, Kikuchi H, Masuho Y, Yamashita R, Nakai K, Yada T, Nakamura Y, Ohara O, Isogai T and Sugano S

    Helix Research Institute, 1532-3 Yana, Kisarazu, Chiba 292-0812, Japan.

    As a base for human transcriptome and functional genomics, we created the "full-length long Japan" (FLJ) collection of sequenced human cDNAs. We determined the entire sequence of 21,243 selected clones and found that 14,490 cDNAs (10,897 clusters) were unique to the FLJ collection. About half of them (5,416) seemed to be protein-coding. Of those, 1,999 clusters had not been predicted by computational methods. The distribution of GC content of nonpredicted cDNAs had a peak at approximately 58% compared with a peak at approximately 42%for predicted cDNAs. Thus, there seems to be a slight bias against GC-rich transcripts in current gene prediction procedures. The rest of the cDNAs unique to the FLJ collection (5,481) contained no obvious open reading frames (ORFs) and thus are candidate noncoding RNAs. About one-fourth of them (1,378) showed a clear pattern of splicing. The distribution of GC content of noncoding cDNAs was narrow and had a peak at approximately 42%, relatively low compared with that of protein-coding cDNAs.

    Nature genetics 2004;36;1;40-5

  • Characterization of the interaction of the stress kinase SPAK with the Na+-K+-2Cl- cotransporter in the nervous system: evidence for a scaffolding role of the kinase.

    Piechotta K, Garbarini N, England R and Delpire E

    Department of Anesthesiology and Center for Molecular Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA.

    Activity of heterologously expressed NKCC1 was analyzed under basal and activated conditions in the presence and absence of binding of Ste20-related proline-alanine-rich kinase (SPAK). Mutant NKCC1 that lacks the ability to bind to this kinase showed K+ transport function identical to wild-type NKCC1. Thus, preventing the binding of the kinase to the cotransporter does not affect cotransporter function. In contrast, several experiments suggest a possible role for SPAK as a scaffolding protein. First, Western blot analysis revealed the presence, and in some tissues abundance, of truncated forms of SPAK and OSR1 in which the kinase domains are affected and thus lack kinase activity. Second, a yeast two-hybrid screen of proteins that interact with the regulatory (binding) domain of SPAK identified several proteins all involved in cellular stress pathways. Third, p38, one of the three major MAPKs, can be coimmunoprecipitated with SPAK and with NKCC1 in an activity-dependent manner. The amount of p38 coimmunoprecipitated with the kinase and the cotransporter significantly decreases upon cellular stress, whereas the interaction of the kinase with NKCC1 remains unchanged. These findings suggest that cation-chloride cotransporters might act as "sensors" for cellular stress, and SPAK, by interacting with the cotransporter, serves as an intermediate in the response to cellular stress.

    Funded by: NINDS NIH HHS: NS36758

    The Journal of biological chemistry 2003;278;52;52848-56

  • PASK (proline-alanine-rich STE20-related kinase), a regulatory kinase of the Na-K-Cl cotransporter (NKCC1).

    Dowd BF and Forbush B

    Yale University, School of Medicine, Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-0826, USA. brian.dowd@yale.edu

    Although the phosphorylation-dependent activation of the Na-K-Cl cotransporter (NKCC1) has been previously well documented, the identity of the kinase(s) responsible for this regulation has proven elusive. Recently, Piechotta et al. (Piechotta, K., Lu, J., and Delpire, E. (2002) J. Biol. Chem. 277, 50812-50819) reported the binding of PASK (also referred as SPAK (STE20/SPS1-related proline-alanine-rich kinase)) and OSR1 (oxidative stress response kinase) to cation-chloride cotransporters KCC3, NKCC1, and NKCC2. In this report, we show that overexpression of a kinase inactive, dominant negative (DN) PASK mutant drastically reduces both shark (60 +/- 5%) and human (80 +/- 3%) NKCC1 activation. Overexpression of wild type PASK causes a small (sNKCC1 22 +/- 8% p < 0.05, hNKCC1 12 +/- 3% p < 0.01) but significant increase in shark and human cotransporter activity in HEK cells. Importantly, DNPASK also inhibits the phosphorylation of two threonines, contained in the previously described N-terminal regulatory domain. We additionally show the near complete restoration of NKCC1 activity in the presence of the protein phosphatase type 1 inhibitor calyculin A, demonstrating that DNPASK inhibition results from an alteration in kinase/phosphatase dynamics rather than from a decrease in functional cotransporter expression. Coimmunoprecipitation assays confirm PASK binding to NKCC1 in transfected HEK cells and further suggest that this binding is not a regulated event; neither PASK nor NKCC1 activity affects the association. In cells preloaded with 32Pi, the phosphorylation of PASK, but not DNPASK, coincides with that of NKCC1 and increases 5.5 +/- 0.36-fold in low [Cl]e. These data conclusively link PASK with the phosphorylation and activation of NKCC1.

    The Journal of biological chemistry 2003;278;30;27347-53

  • Cation chloride cotransporters interact with the stress-related kinases Ste20-related proline-alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) and oxidative stress response 1 (OSR1).

    Piechotta K, Lu J and Delpire E

    Department of Anesthesiology and Center for Molecular Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University, Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA.

    Cells respond to stress stimuli by mounting specific responses. During osmotic and oxidative stress, cation chloride cotransporters, e.g. Na-K-2Cl and K-Cl cotransporters, are activated to maintain fluid/ion homeostasis. Here we report the interaction of the stress-related serine-threonine kinases Ste20-related proline-alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) and oxidative stress response 1 (OSR1) with the cotransporters KCC3, NKCC1, and NKCC2 but not KCC1 and KCC4. The interaction was identified using yeast two-hybrid assays and confirmed via glutathione S-transferase pull-down experiments. Evidence for in vivo interaction was established by co-immunoprecipitation of SPAK from mouse brain with anti-NKCC1 antibody. The interacting region of both kinases comprises the last 100 amino acids of the protein. The SPAK/OSR1 binding motif on the cotransporters consists of nine residues, starting with an (R/K)FX(V/I) sequence followed by five additional residues that are essential for binding but for which no consensus was found. Immunohistochemical analysis of choroid plexus epithelium revealed co-expression of NKCC1 and SPAK on the apical membrane. In contrast, in choroid plexus epithelium from NKCC1 null mice, SPAK immunostaining was found in the cytoplasm. We conclude that several cation chloride co-transporters interact with SPAK and/or OSR1, and we hypothesize that this interaction might play a role during the initiation of the cellular stress response.

    The Journal of biological chemistry 2002;277;52;50812-9

  • Androgens induce expression of SPAK, a STE20/SPS1-related kinase, in LNCaP human prostate cancer cells.

    Qi H, Labrie Y, Grenier J, Fournier A, Fillion C and Labrie C

    Oncology and Molecular Endocrinology Research Center, CHUL Research Center (CHUQ), Laval University, Quebec, Canada G1V 4G2.

    Genes that are regulated by androgens in the human prostate are believed to play an essential role in prostate physiology and they may also be involved in the proliferative response of prostate cancer cells to androgens. We used a cDNA subtraction approach to identify novel androgen-regulated transcripts in LNCaP cells that were exposed to 0.1 nM R1881 for 24 h. We report here that SPAK, a recently identified STE20/SPS1-related kinase that modulates p38 MAP kinase activity, exhibited increased expression in androgen-treated LNCaP cells. Androgen regulation of SPAK was both dose- and time-dependent. R1881-induced SPAK expression was completely abrogated by the antiandrogen casodex and by actinomycin D indicating that androgen induction of SPAK requires the androgen receptor and transcription. Cycloheximide caused a partial inhibition of R1881-induced SPAK expression which suggests that androgen induction of SPAK expression may require synthesis of additional proteins. Northern blot and ribonuclease protection assays demonstrated that SPAK is expressed at high levels in normal human testes and prostate, as well as in a number of breast and prostate cancer cell lines. These results identify SPAK, a member of a key cell signalling pathway, as an androgen-responsive gene in LNCaP cells. We hypothesize that SPAK may mediate androgen action in the normal and cancerous prostate gland.

    Molecular and cellular endocrinology 2001;182;2;181-92

  • SPAK, a STE20/SPS1-related kinase that activates the p38 pathway.

    Johnston AM, Naselli G, Gonez LJ, Martin RM, Harrison LC and DeAizpurua HJ

    Autoimmunity and Transplantation Division, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Post Office, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville 3050, Australia.

    We have cloned a member of the STE20/SPS1 protein kinase family from a transformed rat pancreatic beta cell line. SPAK (STE20/SPS1-related, proline alanine-rich kinase) belongs to the SPS1 subfamily of STE20 kinases and is highly conserved between species. SPAK is expressed ubiquitously, although preferentially in brain and pancreas. Biochemical characterization of SPAK catalytic activity demonstrates that is a serine/threonine kinase that can phosphorylate itself and an exogenous substrate in vitro. SPAK is immunoprecipitated from transfected mammalian cells as a complex with another, as yet uncharacterized, serine/threonine kinase which is capable of phosphorylating catalytically-inactive SPAK and myelin basic protein in an in vitro kinase assay. SPAK specifically activates the p38 pathway in cotransfection assays. Like MST1 and MST2, SPAK contains a putative caspase cleavage site at the junction of the catalytic domain and the C-terminal region. Full-length SPAK is expressed in the cytoplasm in transfected cells, while a mutant corresponding to caspase-cleaved SPAK is expressed predominantly in the nucleus. The similarity of SPAK to other SPS1 family members, its ability to activate the p38 pathway, in addition to its putative caspase cleavage site, provide evidence that SPAK may act as a novel mediator of stress-activated signals. Oncogene (2000) 19, 4290 - 4297

    Oncogene 2000;19;37;4290-7

Gene lists (5)

Gene List Source Species Name Description Gene count
L00000009 G2C Homo sapiens Human PSD Human orthologues of mouse PSD adapted from Collins et al (2006) 1080
L00000015 G2C Homo sapiens Human NRC Human orthologues of mouse NRC adapted from Collins et al (2006) 186
L00000016 G2C Homo sapiens Human PSP Human orthologues of mouse PSP adapted from Collins et al (2006) 1121
L00000036 G2C Homo sapiens Pocklington H5 Human orthologues of cluster 5 (mouse) from Pocklington et al (2006) 5
L00000069 G2C Homo sapiens BAYES-COLLINS-HUMAN-PSD-FULL Human cortex biopsy PSD full list 1461
© G2C 2014. The Genes to Cognition Programme received funding from The Wellcome Trust and the EU FP7 Framework Programmes:
EUROSPIN (FP7-HEALTH-241498), SynSys (FP7-HEALTH-242167) and GENCODYS (FP7-HEALTH-241995).

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