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J Biol Chem. 2005 Jul 8;280(27):25788-801. Epub 2005 Apr 25.

Mirk/Dyrk1B mediates survival during the differentiation of C2C12 myoblasts.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Upstate Medical University, State University of New York, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.


The kinase Mirk/dyrk1B is essential for the differentiation of C2C12 myoblasts. Mirk reinforces the G0/G1 arrest state in which differentiation occurs by directly phosphorylating and stabilizing p27(Kip1) and destabilizing cyclin D1. We now demonstrate that Mirk is anti-apoptotic in myoblasts. Knockdown of endogenous Mirk by RNA interference activated caspase 3 and decreased myoblast survival by 75%, whereas transient overexpression of Mirk increased cell survival. Mirk exerts its anti-apoptotic effects during muscle differentiation at least in part through effects on the cell cycle inhibitor and pro-survival molecule p21(Cip1). Overexpression and RNA interference experiments demonstrated that Mirk phosphorylates p21 within its nuclear localization domain at Ser-153 causing a portion of the typically nuclear p21 to localize in the cytoplasm. Phosphomimetic GFP-p21-S153D was pancellular in both cycling C2C12 myoblasts and NIH3T3 cells. Endogenous Mirk in myotubes and overexpressed Mirk in NIH3T3 cells were able to cause the pancellular localization of wild-type GFP-p21 but not the nonphosphorylatable mutant GFP-p21-S153A. Translocation to the cytoplasm enables p21 to block apoptosis through inhibitory interaction with pro-apoptotic molecules. Phosphomimetic p21-S153D was more effective than wild-type p21 in blocking the activation of caspase 3. Transient expression of p21-S153D also increased myoblast viability in colony forming assays, whereas the p21-S153A mutant had no effect. This Mirk-dependent change in p21 intracellular localization is a natural part of myoblast differentiation. Endogenous p21 localized exclusively to the nuclei of proliferating myoblasts but was also found in the cytoplasm of post-mitotic multinucleated myotubes and adult human skeletal myofibers.

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