Basic anatomy and tumor biology of the RPS6KA6 gene that encodes the p90 ribosomal S6 kinase-4

Y. Sun, S. Cao, M. Yang, S. Wu, Z. Wang, X. Lin, X. Song, D. J. Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The RPS6KA6 gene encodes the p90 ribosomal S6 kinase-4 (RSK4) that is still largely uncharacterized. In this study we identified a new RSK4 transcription initiation site and several alternative splice sites with a 5′-RACE approach. The resulting mRNA variants encompass four possible first start codons. The first 15 nucleotides (nt) of exon 22 in mouse and the penultimate exon in both human (exon 21) and mouse (exon 24) RSK4 underwent alternative splicing, although the penultimate exon deleted variant appeared mainly in cell clines, but not in most normal tissues. Demethylation agent 5-azacytidine inhibited the deletion of the penultimate exon, whereas two indolocarbazole- derived inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 or 6 induced deletion of the first 39 nt from exon 21 of human RSK4. In all human cancer cell lines studied, the 90-kDa wild-type RSK4 was sparse but, surprisingly, several isoforms at or smaller than 72 kDa were expressed as detected by seven different antibodies. On immunoblots, each of these smaller isoforms often appeared as a duplet or triplet and the levels of these isoforms varied greatly among different cell lines and culture conditions. Cyclin D1 inhibited RSK4 expression and serum starvation enhanced the inhibition, whereas c-Myc and RSK4 inhibited cyclin D1. The effects of RSK4 on cell growth, cell death and chemoresponse depended on the mRNA variant or the protein isoform expressed, on the specificity of the cell lines, as well as on the anchorage-dependent or-independent growth conditions and the in vivo situation. Moreover, we also observed that even a given cDNA might be expressed to multiple proteins; therefore, when using a cDNA, one needs to exclude this possibility before attribution of the biological results from the cDNA to the anticipated protein. Collectively, our results suggest that whether RSK4 is oncogenic or tumor suppressive depends on many factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1794-1810
Number of pages17
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 4 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a NIH grant RO1 CA100864 and a Pardee Foundation grant on pancreatic cancer to DJ Liao. We would like to thank Dr Fred Bogott from Austin Medical Center at Austin of Minnesota for his excellent English editing of the manuscript.


  • PRS6KA6
  • RSK4
  • alternative splicing
  • breast cancer
  • pancreatic cancer


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