Theses Doctoral

Non-canonical WDR33 Isoforms: Characterization, Regulation, and Functional Significances in STING-Mediated Innate Immune Responses

Liu, Lizhi

Cleavage and polyadenylation are two necessary messenger RNA (mRNA) maturation steps for gene expression. The Cleavage and Polyadenylation Specificity Factor (CPSF) complex, which recognizes the AAUAAA polyadenylation signal and executes the cleavage reaction, is indispensable for these two processes. In this thesis, I describe my study of the regulation and functions of two non-canonical isoforms of the CPSF subunit WDR33. In addition, I provide detailed analyses on our current knowledge of CPSF subunits’ functions and their influences on a diverse collection of biological processes and conditions.

In Chapter1, I provide a general introduction to cleavage and polyadenylation, WDR33, innate immune response via molecular pattern recognition, and the cGAS-STING pathway. Chapter 2 presents my original research on non-canonical WDR33 isoforms, termed WDR33v2 (V2) and WDR33v3 (V3). I determined that their mRNAs are produced by alternative polyadenylation. Both V2 and V3 proteins lack multiple WD repeats, but they can interact with and stabilize each other. This is a novel mode of protein-protein interaction, which I termed WD repeat complementation (WDRC).

Unexpectedly, I found that even though V2 and V3 are isoforms of a polyadenylation factor, they are not themselves polyadenylation factors. Regulated by the NF-κB pathway, they are interestingly immune factors involved in the cGAS-STING pathway that induces immune responses against cytosolic double-stranded DNA. V2 decreases STING disulfide oligomerization and suppresses STING-mediated interferon β induction, but facilitates STING-mediated autophagy. Binding of V3 to V2 via WDRC prevents V2’s regulation of STING, suggesting that V3 is a V2 inhibitor. My findings thus further our understanding of STING-mediated immune responses. More broadly, these findings also demonstrate that isoforms produced by alternative mRNA processing can be functionally unrelated.

In light of the versatility of the WDR33 gene, I performed a literature review in Chapter 3 on both the canonical and non-canonical functions of CPSF. I first summarize the general functions of CPSF subunits. Subsequently, I discuss their involvements in a variety of biological processes and conditions. This discussion reveals that different processes involve different CPSF subunits. Although CPSF is responsible for only two simple biochemical reactions, it has profound influences on cellular homeostasis.

Together, my thesis studies reveal new insights into the molecular mechanism of the cGAS-STING pathway, underscore the importance of alternative mRNA processing, and provide the latest analyses of the functional significances of CPSF.


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2025-06-24.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Biological Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Manley, James L.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 28, 2023