Shah, Z. H., Ahmed, S. U., Ford, J. R., Allison, Simon J., Knight, J. R. P. and Milner, Jo (2012) A Deacetylase-Deficient SIRT1 Variant Opposes Full-Length SIRT1 in Regulating Tumor Suppressor p53 and Governs Expression of Cancer-Related Genes. Molecular and Cellular Biology, 32 (3). pp. 704-716. ISSN 0270-7306

SIRT1 is an NAD-dependent deacetylase and epigenetic regulator essential for normal mammalian development and homeostasis. Here we describe a human SIRT1 splice variant, designated SIRT1-Δ2/9, in which the deacetylase coding sequence is lost due to splicing between exons 2 and 9. This work aimed to determine if SIRT1-Δ2/9 is a novel functional product of the SIRT1 gene. Endogenous SIRT1-Δ2/9 protein was identified in human cell lysate by immunoblotting and splice variant-specific RNA interference (RNAi). SIRT1-Δ2/9 mRNA is bound by CUGBP2, which downregulates its translation. Using pulldown assays, we demonstrate that SIRT1-Δ2/9 binds p53 protein. SIRT1-Δ2/9 maintains basal p53 protein levels and supports p53 function in response to DNA damage, as evidenced by RNAi-mediated depletion of SIRT1-Δ2/9 prior to damage. In turn, basal p53 downregulates SIRT1-Δ2/9 RNA levels, while stress-activated p53 eliminates SIRT1-Δ2/9. Loss of wild-type (wt) p53 has been correlated with overexpression of SIRT1-Δ2/9 in a range of human cancers. Exogenous SIRT1-Δ2/9 protein associates with specific promoters in chromatin and can regulate cancer-related gene expression, as evidenced by chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis and RNAi/genomic array data. SIRT1 is of major therapeutic importance, and potential therapeutic drugs are screened against SIRT1 deacetylase activity. Our discovery of SIRT1-Δ2/9 identifies a new, deacetylase-independent therapeutic target for SIRT1-related diseases, including cancer.