Elk1 affects katanin and spastin proteins via differential transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulations

Microtubule severing, which is highly critical for the survival of both mitotic and post-mitotic cells, has to be precisely adjusted by regulating the expression levels of severing proteins, katanin and spastin. Even though severing mechanism is relatively well-studied, there are limited studies for the transcriptional regulation of microtubule severing proteins. In this study, we identified the main regulatory region of KATNA1 gene encoding katanin-p60 as 5’ UTR, which has a key role for its expression, and showed Elk1 binding to KATNA1. Furthermore, we identified that Elk1 decreased katanin-p60 and spastin protein expressions, while mRNA levels were increased upon Elk1 overexpression. In addition, SUMOylation is a known post-translational modification regulating Elk1 activity. A previous study suggested that K230, K249, K254 amino acids in the R domain are the main SUMOylation sites; however, we identified that these amino acids are neither essential nor substantial for Elk1 SUMOylation. Also, we determined that KATNA1 methylation results in the reduction of Elk1 binding whereas SPG4 methylation does not. Together, our findings emphasizing the impacts of both transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulations of katanin-p60 and spastin suggest that Elk1 has a key role for differential expression patterns of microtubule severing proteins, thereby regulating cellular functions through alterations of microtubule organization.