DEK over-expression promotes mitotic defects and micronucleus formation.

Matrka MC, Hennigan RF, Kappes F, DeLay ML, Lambert PF, Aronow BJ, Wells SI
Cell Cycle 14 3939-53 01/01/2015


The DEK gene encodes a nuclear protein that binds chromatin and is involved in various fundamental nuclear processes including transcription, RNA splicing, DNA replication and DNA repair. Several cancer types characteristically over-express DEK at the earliest stages of transformation. In order to explore relevant mechanisms whereby DEK supports oncogenicity, we utilized cancer databases to identify gene transcripts whose expression patterns are tightly correlated with that of DEK. We identified an enrichment of genes involved in mitosis and thus investigated the regulation and possible function of DEK in cell division. Immunofluorescence analyses revealed that DEK dissociates from DNA in early prophase and re-associates with DNA during telophase in human keratinocytes. Mitotic cell populations displayed a sharp reduction in DEK protein levels compared to the corresponding interphase population, suggesting DEK may be degraded or otherwise removed from the cell prior to mitosis. Interestingly, DEK overexpression stimulated its own aberrant association with chromatin throughout mitosis. Furthermore, DEK co-localized with anaphase bridges, chromosome fragments, and micronuclei, suggesting a specific association with mitotically defective chromosomes. We found that DEK over-expression in both non-transformed and transformed cells is sufficient to stimulate micronucleus formation. These data support a model wherein normal chromosomal clearance of DEK is required for maintenance of high fidelity cell division and chromosomal integrity. Therefore, the overexpression of DEK and its incomplete removal from mitotic chromosomes promotes genomic instability through the generation of genetically abnormal daughter cells. Consequently, DEK over-expression may be involved in the initial steps of developing oncogenic mutations in cells leading to cancer initiation.

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