Overexpression of the SETD2 WW domain inhibits the phosphor-IWS1/SETD2 interaction and the oncogenic AKT/IWS1 RNA splicing program.
Our earlier studies had shown that AKT phosphorylates IWS1, and that following phosphorylation, IWS1 recruits the histone methyltransferase SETD2 to an SPT6/IWS1/ALY complex, which assembles on the Ser2-phosphorylated CTD of RNA Pol II. Recruited SETD2 methylates histone H3 at K36, during transcriptional elongation of target genes, and this regulates multiple steps in RNA metabolism. By regulating the RNA splicing of U2AF2, it controls cell proliferation. Importantly, pathway activity correlates with grade, stage and metastatic potential of lung adenocarcinomas, especially those with EGFR mutations. By regulating nucleocytoplasmic mRNA transport of intronless genes, including those encoding type I IFNs, it regulates sensitivity to viral infection. Here, we show that SETD2 interacts with IWS1 via its WW domain, that the interaction is IWS1 phosphorylation-dependent and that WW domain overexpression blocks the interaction and inhibits the pathway and its biological outcomes. We conclude that blocking the phosphor-IWS1/SETD2 interaction is feasible and has significant therapeutic potential in human cancer.