Alt-RPL36 downregulates the PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling pathway by interacting with TMEM24

Xiongwen Cao, Alexandra Khitun, Zhenkun Na, Thitima Phoodokmai, Khomkrit Sappakhaw, Elizabeth Olatunji, Chayasith Uttamapinant, Sarah A. Slavoff

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Received Date: 17th March 20

While thousands of previously unannotated small and alternative open reading frames (alt-ORFs) have recently been revealed in the human genome, the functions of only a handful are currently known, and no post-translational modifications of their polypeptide products have yet been reported, leaving open the question of their biological significance as a class. Using a proteomic strategy for discovery of unannotated short open reading frames in human cells, we report the detection of alt-RPL36, a 148-amino acid protein co-encoded with and overlapping human RPL36. Alt-RPL36 interacts with TMEM24, which transports the phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate [PI(4,5)P2] precursor phosphatidylinositol from the endoplasmic reticulum to the plasma membrane. Knock-out of alt-RPL36 in HEK 293T cells increased PI(4,5)P2 levels in the plasma membrane and upregulated the PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling pathway. Remarkably, we find that four serine residues of alt-RPL36 are phosphorylated, and mutation of these four serines to alanine abolished the interaction with TMEM24 and regulation of PI3K signaling. These results implicate alt-RPL36 as a novel regulator of PI(4,5)P2 synthesis upstream of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling pathway, and the first example of a phosphorylated alt-ORF product. More broadly, both alt-RPL36 and RPL36 regulate protein synthesis and cell growth via different molecular mechanisms – PI3K signaling and ribosome composition, respectively. One human transcript can therefore express two sequence-independent polypeptides from overlapping ORFs that regulate the same processes via distinct mechanisms.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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