Multiple PDE3A Modulators Act as Molecular Glues Promoting PDE3A-SLFN12 Interaction and Induce SLFN12 Dephosphorylation and Cell Death

Bo Yan, Zhangcheng Ding, Wenbin Zhang, Gaihong Cai, Hui Han, Yan Ma, Yang Cao, Jiawen Wang, She Chen, and Youwei Ai

Cell Chemical Biology
DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2022.01.006


The canonical function of phosphodiesterase 3A (PDE3A) is to hydrolyze the phosphodiester bonds in second messenger molecules, such as cyclic AMP(cAMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate(cGMP). Recently, a phosphodiesterase- activity-independent role for PDE3A was reported.In this noncanonical function, PDE3A physically interacts with Schlafen 12 (SLFN12) upon treatment of cells with cytotoxic PDE3A modulators. Here, we confirmed that the cytotoxic PDE3A modulators act as molecular glues to initiate the association of PDE3A and SLFN12. The PDE3A-SLFN12 interaction increases the protein stability of SLFN12 located in the cytoplasm,while at the same time also inducing SLFN12 dephosphorylation (including serines 368 and 573). Mutational analysis demonstrates that dephosphorylation is required for cell death induced by cytotoxic PDE3A modulators. Finally, we found that dephosphorylation promoted the rRNA RNase activity of SLFN12 and show that this nucleolytic activity is essential for SLFN12's cell-death-inducing function. Thus, our study deepens the understanding of the biochemical mechanisms underlying SLFN12-mediated cell death.