The structure and substrate specificity of human Cdk12/Cyclin K.
ABSTRACT: Phosphorylation of the RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain (CTD) by cyclin-dependent kinases is important for productive transcription. Here we determine the crystal structure of Cdk12/CycK and analyse its requirements for substrate recognition. Active Cdk12/CycK is arranged in an open conformation similar to that of Cdk9/CycT but different from those of cell cycle kinases. Cdk12 contains a C-terminal extension that folds onto the N- and C-terminal lobes thereby contacting the ATP ribose. The interaction is mediated by an HE motif followed by a polybasic cluster that is conserved in transcriptional CDKs. Cdk12/CycK showed the highest activity on a CTD substrate prephosphorylated at position Ser7, whereas the common Lys7 substitution was not recognized. Flavopiridol is most potent towards Cdk12 but was still 10-fold more potent towards Cdk9. T-loop phosphorylation of Cdk12 required coexpression with a Cdk-activating kinase. These results suggest the regulation of Pol II elongation by a relay of transcriptionally active CTD kinases.
Project description:Cyclin-dependent kinase 12 (CDK12) promotes transcriptional elongation by phosphorylation of the RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain (CTD). Structure-function studies show that this activity is dependent on a C-terminal kinase extension, as well as the binding of cyclin K (CycK). To better define these interactions we determined the crystal structure of the human CDK12/CycK complex with and without the kinase extension in the presence of AMP-PNP. The structures revealed novel features for a CDK, including a large ?4-?5 loop insertion that contributes to the N-lobe interaction with the cyclin. We also observed two different conformations of the C-terminal kinase extension that effectively open and close the ATP pocket. Most notably, bound AMP-PNP was only observed when trapped in the closed state. Truncation of this C-terminal structure also diminished AMP-PNP binding, as well as the catalytic activity of the CDK12/CycK complex. Further kinetic measurements showed that the full length CDK12/CycK complex was significantly more active than the two crystallised constructs suggesting a critical role for additional domains. Overall, these results demonstrate the intrinsic flexibility of the C-terminal extension in CDK12 and highlight its importance for both ATP binding and kinase activity.
Project description:Cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) and CDK12 have each been demonstrated to phosphorylate the RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain (CTD) at serine 2 of the heptad repeat, both in vitro and in vivo. CDK9, as part of P-TEFb and the super elongation complex (SEC), is by far the best characterized of CDK9, CDK12, and CDK13. We employed both in vitro and in vivo assays to further investigate the molecular properties of CDK12 and its paralog CDK13. We isolated Flag-tagged CDK12 and CDK13 and found that they associate with numerous RNA processing factors. Although knockdown of CDK12, CDK13, or their cyclin partner CCNK did not affect the bulk CTD phosphorylation levels in HCT116 cells, transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis revealed that CDK12 and CDK13 losses in HCT116 cells preferentially affect expression of DNA damage response and snoRNA genes, respectively. CDK12 and CDK13 depletion also leads to a loss of expression of RNA processing factors and to defects in RNA processing. These findings suggest that in addition to implementing CTD phosphorylation, CDK12 and CDK13 may affect RNA processing through direct physical interactions with RNA processing factors and by regulating their expression.
Project description:Various cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) complexes have been implicated in the regulation of transcription. In this study, we identified a 70-kDa Cyclin K (CycK) that binds Cdk12 and Cdk13 to form two different complexes (CycK/Cdk12 or CycK/Cdk13) in human cells. The CycK/Cdk12 complex regulates phosphorylation of Ser2 in the C-terminal domain of RNA polymerase II and expression of a small subset of human genes, as revealed in expression microarrays. Depletion of CycK/Cdk12 results in decreased expression of predominantly long genes with high numbers of exons. The most prominent group of down-regulated genes are the DNA damage response genes, including the critical regulators of genomic stability: BRCA1 (breast and ovarian cancer type 1 susceptibility protein 1), ATR (ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related), FANCI, and FANCD2. We show that CycK/Cdk12, rather than CycK/Cdk13, is necessary for their expression. Nuclear run-on assays and chromatin immunoprecipitations with RNA polymerase II on the BRCA1 and FANCI genes suggest a transcriptional defect in the absence of CycK/Cdk12. Consistent with these findings, cells without CycK/Cdk12 induce spontaneous DNA damage and are sensitive to a variety of DNA damage agents. We conclude that through regulation of expression of DNA damage response genes, CycK/Cdk12 protects cells from genomic instability. The essential role of CycK for organisms in vivo is further supported by the result that genetic inactivation of CycK in mice causes early embryonic lethality.
Project description:The Cdk12/CycK complex promotes expression of a subset of RNA polymerase II genes, including those of the DNA damage response. CDK12 is among only nine genes with recurrent somatic mutations in high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma. However, the influence of these mutations on the Cdk12/CycK complex and their link to cancerogenesis remain ill-defined. Here, we show that most mutations prevent formation of the Cdk12/CycK complex, rendering the kinase inactive. By examining the mutations within the Cdk12/CycK structure, we find that they likely provoke structural rearrangements detrimental to Cdk12 activation. Our mRNA expression analysis of the patient samples containing the CDK12 mutations reveals coordinated downregulation of genes critical to the homologous recombination DNA repair pathway. Moreover, we establish that the Cdk12/CycK complex occupies these genes and promotes phosphorylation of RNA polymerase II at Ser2. Accordingly, we demonstrate that the mutant Cdk12 proteins fail to stimulate the faithful DNA double strand break repair via homologous recombination. Together, we provide the molecular basis of how mutated CDK12 ceases to function in ovarian carcinoma. We propose that CDK12 is a tumor suppressor of which the loss-of-function mutations may elicit defects in multiple DNA repair pathways, leading to genomic instability underlying the genesis of the cancer.
Project description:Drosophila contains one (dCDK12) and humans contain two (hCDK12 and hCDK13) proteins that are the closest evolutionary relatives of yeast Ctk1, the catalytic subunit of the major elongation-phase C-terminal repeat domain (CTD) kinase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, CTDK-I. However, until now, neither CDK12 nor CDK13 has been demonstrated to be a bona fide CTD kinase. Using Drosophila, we demonstrate that dCDK12 (CG7597) is a transcription-associated CTD kinase, the ortholog of yCtk1. Fluorescence microscopy reveals that the distribution of dCDK12 on formaldehyde-fixed polytene chromosomes is virtually identical to that of hyperphosphorylated RNA polymerase II (RNAPII), but is distinct from that of P-TEFb (dCDK9 + dCyclin T). Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments confirm that dCDK12 is present on the transcribed regions of active Drosophila genes. Compared with P-TEFb, dCDK12 amounts are lower at the 5' end and higher in the middle and at the 3' end of genes (both normalized to RNAPII). Appropriately, Drosophila dCDK12 purified from nuclear extracts manifests CTD kinase activity in vitro. Intriguingly, we find that cyclin K is associated with purified dCDK12, implicating it as the cyclin subunit of this CTD kinase. Most importantly, we demonstrate that RNAi knockdown of dCDK12 in S2 cells alters the phosphorylation state of the CTD, reducing its Ser2 phosphorylation levels. Similarly, in human HeLa cells, we show that hCDK13 purified from nuclear extracts displays CTD kinase activity in vitro, as anticipated. Also, we find that chimeric (yeast/human) versions of Ctk1 containing the kinase homology domains of hCDK12/13 (or hCDK9) are functional in yeast cells (and also in vitro); using this system, we show that a bur1(ts) mutant is rescued more efficiently by a hCDK9 chimera than by a hCDK13 chimera, suggesting the following orthology relationships: Bur1 ? CDK9 and Ctk1 ? CDK12/13. Finally, we show that siRNA knockdown of hCDK12 in HeLa cells results in alterations in the CTD phosphorylation state. Our findings demonstrate that metazoan CDK12 and CDK13 are CTD kinases, and that CDK12 is orthologous to yeast Ctk1.
Project description:As the new millennium began, CDK12 and CDK13 were discovered as nucleotide sequences that encode protein kinases related to cell cycle CDKs. By the end of the first decade both proteins had been qualified as CTD kinases, and it was emerging that both are heterodimers containing a Cyclin K subunit. Since then, many studies on CDK12 have shown that, through phosphorylating the CTD of transcribing RNAPII, it plays critical roles in several stages of gene expression, notably RNA processing; it is also crucial for maintaining genome stability. Fewer studies on CKD13 have clearly shown that it is functionally distinct from CDK12. CDK13 is important for proper expression of a number of genes, but it also probably plays yet-to-be-discovered roles in other processes. This review summarizes much of the work on CDK12 and CDK13 and attempts to evaluate the results and place them in context. Our understanding of these two enzymes has begun to mature, but we still have much to learn about both. An indicator of one major area of medically-relevant future research comes from the discovery that CDK12 is a tumor suppressor, notably for certain ovarian and prostate cancers. A challenge for the future is to understand CDK12 and CDK13 well enough to explain how their loss promotes cancer development and how we can intercede to prevent or treat those cancers. Abbreviations: CDK: cyclin-dependent kinase; CTD: C-terminal repeat domain of POLR2A; CTDK-I: CTD kinase I (yeast); Ctk1: catalytic subunit of CTDK-I; Ctk2: cyclin-like subunit of CTDK-I; PCAP: phosphoCTD-associating protein; POLR2A: largest subunit of RNAPII; SRI domain: Set2-RNAPII Interacting domain.
Project description:We asked whether the C-terminal repeat domain (CTD) kinase, CDK12/CyclinK, phosphorylates substrates in addition to the CTD of RPB1, using our CDK12analog-sensitive HeLa cell line to investigate CDK12 activity-dependent phosphorylation events in human cells. Characterizing the phospho-proteome before and after selective inhibition of CDK12 activity by the analog 1-NM-PP1, we identified 5,644 distinct phospho-peptides, among which were 50 whose average relative amount decreased more than 2-fold after 30 min of inhibition (none of these derived from RPB1). Half of the phospho-peptides actually showed >3-fold decreases, and a dozen showed decreases of 5-fold or more. As might be expected, the 40 proteins that gave rise to the 50 affected phospho-peptides mostly function in processes that have been linked to CDK12, such as transcription and RNA processing. However, the results also suggest roles for CDK12 in other events, notably mRNA nuclear export, cell differentiation and mitosis. While a number of the more-affected sites resemble the CTD in amino acid sequence and are likely direct CDK12 substrates, other highly-affected sites are not CTD-like, and their decreased phosphorylation may be a secondary (downstream) effect of CDK12 inhibition.
Project description:Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) play critical roles in cell cycle progression and gene expression regulation. In human cancer, transcription-associated CDKs can activate oncogenic gene expression programs, whereas cell cycle-regulatory CDKs mainly induce uncontrolled proliferation. Cyclin-dependent kinase 12 (CDK12) belongs to the CDK family of serine/threonine kinases and has been recently found to have multiple roles in gene expression regulation and tumorigenesis. Originally, CDK12 was thought to be one of the transcription-associated CDKs, acting with its cyclin partner Cyclin K to promote the phosphorylation of the C-terminal domain (CTD) of RNA polymerase II and induce transcription elongation. However, recent studies have demonstrated that CDK12 also controls multiple gene expression processes, including transcription termination, mRNA splicing, and translation. Most importantly, CDK12 mutations are frequently found in human tumors. Loss of CDK12 function causes defective expression of DNA damage response (DDR) genes, which eventually results in genome instability, a hallmark of human cancer. Here, we discuss the diverse roles of CDK12 in gene expression regulation and human cancer, focusing on newly identified CDK12 kinase functions in cellular processes and highlighting CDK12 as a promising therapeutic target for human cancer treatment.
Project description:Cyclin-dependent kinase 12 (CDK12) phosphorylates the carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of RNA polymerase II (pol II) but its roles in transcription beyond the expression of DNA damage response genes remain unclear. Here, we have used TT-seq and mNET-seq to monitor the direct effects of rapid CDK12 inhibition on transcription activity and CTD phosphorylation in human cells. CDK12 inhibition causes a genome-wide defect in transcription elongation and a global reduction of CTD Ser2 and Ser5 phosphorylation. The elongation defect is explained by the loss of the elongation factors LEO1 and CDC73, part of PAF1 complex, and SPT6 from the newly-elongating pol II. Our results indicate that CDK12 is a general activator of pol II transcription elongation and indicate that it targets both Ser2 and Ser5 residues of the pol II CTD.
Project description:The RNA Polymerase II C-terminal domain (CTD) kinase CDK12 has been implicated as a tumor suppressor and regulator of DNA damage response genes. Although much has been learned about CDK12 and its activity, due to the lack of a specific inhibitor and the complications posed by long term RNAi depletion, much is still unknown about the particulars of CDK12 function. Therefore gaining a better understanding of CDK12's roles at the molecular level will be challenging without the development of additional tools. In order to address these issues we have used the CRISPR/Cas gene engineering system to create a mammalian cell line in which the only functional copy of CDK12 is selectively inhibitable by a cell-permeable adenine analog (analog-sensitive CDK12). Inhibition of CDK12 results in a perturbation of the phosphorylation patterns on the CTD and an arrest in cellular proliferation. This cell line should serve as a powerful tool for future studies.