Apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide-like (APOBEC) family proteins restrict retroviruses and retrotransposons by inducing hypermutation or degradation of the replication intermediates through their DNA cytidine deaminase activity. APOBECs can also act as endogenous sources of DNA damage that mutate many human cancers. Accumulation of APOBEC signature mutations is associated with disease progression and poor overall survival in multiple myeloma (Walker et al. Nat Commun, 2015). Among APOBEC3 enzymes, APOBEC3B (A3B) is the only family member that is predominantly located in the nucleus throughout the cell cycle. We previously reported that A3B knockdown decreased cytidine deaminase activity in myeloma cells, suggesting that among APOBECs, A3B plays a major role in cytidine deamination-related mutagenesis in myeloma cells (Yamazaki et al., Sci Rep, 2019). Recent studies showed that cofactors of A3B could affect the functions of A3B: heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) interact with surface hydrophobic residues of the N-terminal domain in order to bind to A3B (Xiao et al., Nuc. Acids Res, 2017; Zhang al., Cell Microbiol, 2008); BORF2, an Epstein-Barr viral protein, interacts with the A3B catalytic domain and inhibits A3B DNA cytidine deaminase activity (Cheng et al., Nat Microbiol, 2018).

However, the biological mechanisms of how endogenous A3B induces mutations in genomic DNA are still unclear. In this study, we aim to ascertain the cofactors for nucleic acid binding and elucidate the regulatory mechanisms that prevent APOBEC-mediated genomic mutagenesis.

Because of the high homology between APOBEC3 proteins, a specific antibody against A3B is not available, and it is difficult to analyze A3B-interaction at the endogenous expression level. To overcome this technical impediment, we used a lentiCRISPR system to insert a FLAG-tag sequence at the C-terminus of the A3B gene in A3B highly expressing myeloma cell lines (AMO1 and RPMI8226). We then conducted A3B-immunoprecipitation with the anti-FLAG M2 antibody, followed by mass spectrometry (MS) analysis to identify potential A3B interacting proteins. MS analysis identified 40 putative interacting proteins and these proteins were clustered largely into two interaction networks: ribonucleoprotein complex and ribosomal-associated proteins. We also performed Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis and revealed that spliceosome, ribosome, and RNA transport were significantly enriched terms.

We confirmed the binding between A3B and selected A3B interacting proteins: hnRNPs, interleukin enhancer-binding factor 2 and 3 (ILF2, ILF3) in myeloma cell lines by co-immunoprecipitation assays. Next, we tested the intracellular colocalization of overexpressed A3B and interacting proteins in Hela cells by immunofluorescence microscopy. We found that ILF2 presents strong colocalization with A3B in the nuclei of cells.

We also employed density-gradient sedimentation analysis to test if these proteins form high molecular mass (HMM) complexes with A3B in the nucleus using HEK293T cells expressing FLAG-tagged A3B. We detected that ILF2 is one of the components of HMM A3B complexes.

To check whether these putative interacting proteins affect A3B cytidine deaminase activity, we next performed an in vitro luminescence-based screening assay (AlphaScreen)using a FLAG-GST protein library which was produced by the wheat cell-free protein production system. We found that hnRNP A1 and ILF2 decreased A3B cytidine deaminase activity.

This study provides for the first time a proteomic characterization of A3B interactome in a myeloma cell context. Our findings reveal putative A3B cofactors in myeloma cell lines which may regulate the catalytic activity of A3B. We discuss how these proteins bind A3B and affect its activity in myeloma cells.


Takaori-Kondo:Pfizer: Honoraria; Janssen: Honoraria; Novartis: Honoraria; Celgene: Honoraria, Research Funding; Bristol-Myers Squibb: Honoraria, Research Funding; Ono: Research Funding; Takeda: Research Funding; Chugai: Research Funding; Kyowa Kirin: Research Funding.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.