Human lung adenocarcinomas with activating mutations in EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) often respond to treatment with EGFRtyrosine kinase inhibitors(TKIs),butthe magnitude of tumour regression is variable and transient1,2. This heterogeneity in treatment response could result from genetic modifiers that regulate the degree to which tumour cells are dependent on mutant EGFR. Through a pooled RNA interference screen, we show that knockdown of FAS and several components of the NF-κB pathway specifically enhanced cell death induced by the EGFR TKI erlotinib in EGFR-mutant lung cancer cells. Activation of NF-κB through overexpression of c-FLIP or IKK (also known as CFLAR and IKBKB, respectively), or silencing of IκB (also known as NFKBIA), rescued EGFR-mutant lung cancer cells from EGFR TKI treatment. Genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of NF-κB enhanced erlotinib-induced apoptosis in erlotinib-sensitive and erlotinib-resistant EGFR-mutant lung cancer models. Increased expression of the NF-κB inhibitor IκB predicted for improved response and survival in EGFR-mutant lung cancer patients treated with EGFR TKI. These data identify NF-κB as a potential companion drug target, together with EGFR, in EGFR-mutant lung cancers and provide insight into the mechanisms by which tumour cells escape from oncogene dependence.
IκB kinase β (IKKβ) is involved in tumor development and progression through activation of the nuclear factor (NF)–κB pathway. However, the molecular mechanism that regulates IKKβ degradation remains largely unknown. Here, we show that a Cullin 3 (CUL3)–based ubiquitin ligase, Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1), is responsible for IKKβ ubiquitination. Depletion of KEAP1 led to the accumulation and stabilization of IKKβ and to up-regulation of NF-κB–derived tumor angiogenic factors. A systematic analysis of the CUL3, KEAP1, and RBX1 genomic loci revealed a high percentage of genome loss and missense mutations in human cancers that failed to facilitate IKKβ degradation. Our results suggest that the dysregulation of KEAP1-mediated IKKβ ubiquitination may contribute to tumorigenesis.
The bZIP transcription factor Nrf2 controls a genetic program that protects cells from oxidative damage and maintains cellular redox homeostasis. Keap1, a BTB-Kelch protein, is the major upstream regulator of Nrf2 and controls both the subcellular localization and steady-state levels of Nrf2. In this report, we demonstrate that Keap1 functions as a substrate adaptor protein for a Cul3-dependent E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. Keap1 assembles into a functional E3 ubiquitin ligase complex with Cul3 and Rbx1 that targets multiple lysine residues located in the N-terminal Neh2 domain of Nrf2 for ubiquitin conjugation both in vivo and in vitro. Keap1-dependent ubiquitination of Nrf2 is inhibited following exposure of cells to quinone-induced oxidative stress and sulforaphane, a cancer-preventive isothiocyanate. A mutant Keap1 protein containing a single cysteine-to-serine substitution at residue 151 within the BTB domain of Keap1 is markedly resistant to inhibition by either quinone-induced oxidative stress or sulforaphane. Inhibition of Keap1-dependent ubiquitination of Nrf2 correlates with decreased association of Keap1 with Cul3. Neither quinone-induced oxidative stress nor sulforaphane disrupts association between Keap1 and Nrf2. Our results suggest that the ability of Keap1 to assemble into a functional E3 ubiquitin ligase complex is the critical determinant that controls steady-state levels of Nrf2 in response to cancer-preventive compounds and oxidative stress.
Targeting Nrf2 signaling appears to be an attractive approach for the treatment of maladaptive cardiac remodeling and dysfunction; however, pharmacological modulation of the Nrf2 pathway in the cardiovascular system remains to be established. Herein, we report that a novel synthetic triterpenoid derivative, dihydro-CDDO-trifluoroethyl amide (dh404), activates Nrf2 and suppresses oxidative stress in cardiomyocytes. Dh404 interrupted the Keap1-Cul3-Rbx1 E3 ligase complex-mediated Nrf2 ubiquitination and subsequent degradation saturating the binding capacity of Keap1 to Nrf2, thereby rendering more Nrf2 to be translocated into the nuclei to activate Nrf2-driven gene transcription. A mutant Keap1 protein containing a single cysteine-to-serine substitution at residue 151 within the BTB domain of Keap1 was resistant to dh404-induced stabilization of Nrf2 protein. In addition, dh404 did not dissociate the interaction of Nrf2 with the Keap1-Cul3-Rbx1 E3 ligase complex. Thus, it is likely that dh404 inhibits the ability of Keap1-Cul3-Rbx1 E3 ligase complex to target Nrf2 for ubiquitination and degradation via modifying Cys-151 of Keap1 to change the conformation of the complex. Moreover, dh404 was able to stabilize Nrf2 protein, to enhance Nrf2 nuclear translocation, to activate Nrf2-driven transcription, and to suppress angiotensin II (Ang II)-induced oxidative stress in cardiomyocytes. Knockdown of Nrf2 almost blocked the anti-oxidative effect of dh404. Dh404 activated Nrf2 signaling in the heart. Taken together, dh404 appears to be a novel Nrf2 activator with a therapeutic potential for cardiac diseases via suppressing oxidative stress.
Nrf2 is a transcription factor that has emerged as the cell's main defense mechanism against many harmful environmental toxicants and carcinogens. Nrf2 is negatively regulated by Keap1, a substrate adaptor protein for the Cullin3 (Cul3)-containing E3-ligase complex, which targets Nrf2 for ubiquitination and degradation by the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS). Recent evidence suggests that constitutive activation of Nrf2, due to mutations in Keap1 or Nrf2, is prominent in many cancer types and contributes to chemoresistance. Regulation of Nrf2 by the Cul3–Keap1-E3 ligase provides strong evidence that tight regulation of Cullin-ring ligases (CRLs) is imperative to maintain cellular homeostasis. There are seven known Cullin proteins that form various CRL complexes. They are regulated by neddylation/deneddylation, ubiquitination/deubiquitination, CAND1-assisted complex assembly/disassembly, and subunit dimerization. In this review, we will discuss the regulation of each CRL using the Cul3–Keap1-E3 ligase complex as the primary focus. The substrates of CRLs are involved in many signaling pathways. Therefore, deregulation of CRLs affects several cellular processes, including cell cycle arrest, DNA repair, cell proliferation, senescence, and death, which may lead to many human diseases, including cancer. This makes CRLs a promising target for novel cancer drug therapies. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 13, 1699–1712.
Keap1 and Cul3 constitute a unique ubiquitin E3 ligase that degrades Nrf2, a key activator of cytoprotective genes. Upon exposure to oxidants/electrophiles, the enzymatic activity of this ligase complex is inhibited and the complex fails to degrade Nrf2, resulting in the transcriptional activation of Nrf2 target genes. Keap1 possesses several reactive cysteine residues that covalently bond with electrophiles in vitro. To clarify the functional significance of each Keap1 cysteine residue under physiological conditions, we established a transgenic complementation rescue model. The transgenic expression of mutant Keap1(C273A) and/or Keap1(C288A) protein in Keap1 null mice failed to reverse constitutive Nrf2 activation, indicating that cysteine residues at positions 273 and 288 are essential for Keap1 to repress Nrf2 activity in vivo. In contrast, Keap1(C151S) retained repressor activity and mice expressing this molecule were viable. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts from Keap1(C151S) transgenic mice displayed decreased expression of Nrf2 target genes both before and after an electrophilic challenge, suggesting that Cys151 is important in facilitating Nrf2 activation. These results demonstrate critical roles of the cysteine residues in vivo in maintaining Keap1 function, such that Nrf2 is repressed under quiescent conditions and active in response to oxidants/electrophiles.
Cyclin E is often overexpressed in cancer tissue, leading to genetic instability and aneuploidy. Cullin 3 (Cul3) is a component of the BTB-Cul3-Rbx1 (BCR) ubiquitin ligase that is involved in the turnover of cyclin E. Here we show that liver-specific ablation of Cul3 in mice results in the persistence and massive expansion of hepatic progenitor cells. Upon induction of differentiation, Cul3-deficient progenitor cells underwent substantial DNA damage in vivo and in vitro, thereby triggering the activation of a cellular senescence response that selectively blocked the expansion of the differentiated offspring. Positive selection of undifferentiated progenitor cells required the expression of the tumor suppressor protein p53. Simultaneous loss of Cul3 and p53 in hepatic progenitors turned these cells into highly malignant tumor-initiating cells that formed largely undifferentiated tumors in nude mice. In addition, loss of Cul3 and p53 led to the formation of primary hepatocellular carcinomas. Importantly, loss of Cul3 expression was also detected in a large series of human liver cancers and correlated directly with tumor de-differentiation. The expression of Cul3 during hepatic differentiation therefore safeguards against the formation of progenitor cells that carry a great potential for transformation into tumor-initiating cells.
In response to stress, cells can utilize several cellular processes, such as autophagy, which is a bulk-lysosomal degradation pathway, to mitigate damages and increase the chances of cell survival. Deregulation of autophagy causes upregulation of p62 and the formation of p62-containing aggregates, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. The Nrf2-Keap1 pathway functions as a critical regulator of the cell's defense mechanism against oxidative stress by controlling the expression of many cellular protective proteins. Under basal conditions, Nrf2 is ubiquitinated by the Keap1-Cul3-E3 ubiquitin ligase complex and targeted to the 26S proteasome for degradation. Upon induction, the activity of the E3 ubiquitin ligase is inhibited through the modification of cysteine residues in Keap1, resulting in the stabilization and activation of Nrf2. In this current study, we identified the direct interaction between p62 and Keap1 and the residues required for the interaction have been mapped to 349-DPSTGE-354 in p62 and three arginines in the Kelch domain of Keap1. Accumulation of endogenous p62 or ectopic expression of p62 sequesters Keap1 into aggregates, resulting in the inhibition of Keap1-mediated Nrf2 ubiquitination and its subsequent degradation by the proteasome. In contrast, overexpression of mutated p62, which loses its ability to interact with Keap1, had no effect on Nrf2 stability, demonstrating that p62-mediated Nrf2 upregulation is Keap1 dependent. These findings demonstrate that autophagy deficiency activates the Nrf2 pathway in a noncanonical cysteine-independent mechanism.
The transcription factor Nrf2 regulates cellular redox homeostasis. Under basal conditions, Keap1 recruits Nrf2 into the Cul3-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase complex for ubiquitin conjugation and subsequent proteasomal degradation. Oxidative stress triggers activation of Nrf2 through inhibition of E3 ubiquitin ligase activity, resulting in increased levels of Nrf2 and transcriptional activation of Nrf2-dependent genes. In this study, we identify Keap1 as a key postinduction repressor of Nrf2 and demonstrate that a nuclear export sequence (NES) in Keap1 is required for termination of Nrf2-antioxidant response element (ARE) signaling by escorting nuclear export of Nrf2. We provide evidence that ubiquitination of Nrf2 is carried out in the cytosol. Furthermore, we show that Keap1 nuclear translocation is independent of Nrf2 and the Nrf2-Keap1 complex does not bind the ARE. Collectively, our results suggest the following mechanism of postinduction repression: upon recovery of cellular redox homeostasis, Keap1 translocates into the nucleus to dissociate Nrf2 from the ARE. The Nrf2-Keap1 complex is then transported out of the nucleus by the NES in Keap1. Once in the cytoplasm, the Keap1-Nrf2 complex associates with the E3 ubiquitin ligase, resulting in degradation of Nrf2 and termination of the Nrf2 signaling pathway. Hence, postinduction repression of the Nrf2-mediated antioxidant response is controlled by the nuclear export function of Keap1 in alliance with the cytoplasmic ubiquitination and degradation machinery.
Steroid receptor coactivator-3 (SRC-3/AIB1) is an oncogene that is amplified and overexpressed in many human cancers. However, the molecular mechanisms that regulate ‘activated SRC-3 oncoprotein’ turnover during tumorigenesis remain to be elucidated. Here we report thatspeckle-type POZ protein (SPOP), a cullin 3 (CUL3)-based ubiquitin ligase, is responsible for SRC-3 ubiquitination and proteolysis. SPOP interacts directly with an SRC-3 phospho-degron in a phosphorylation dependent manner. Casein kinase Iε phosphorylates the S102 in this degron and promotes SPOP-dependent turnover of SRC-3. shRNA knockdown and overexpression experiments substantiated that the SPOP/CUL3/Rbx1 ubiquitin ligase complex promotes SRC-3 turnover. A systematic analysis of the SPOP genomic locus revealed that a high percentage of genomic loss or LOH occurs at this locus in breast cancers. Furthermore, we demonstrate that restoration of SPOP expression inhibited SRC-3-mediated oncogenic signaling and tumorigenesis, thus positioning SPOP as a tumor suppressor.
SRC-3/AIB1; oncogene; tumor suppressor; SPOP; Cul3; ubiquitin ligase; steroid receptor; coactivator; breast cancer
The Nrf2 transcription factor promotes survival following cellular insults that trigger oxidative damage. Nrf2 activity is opposed by the BTB/POZ domain protein Keap1. Keap1 is proposed to regulate Nrf2 activity strictly through its capacity to inhibit Nrf2 nuclear import. Recent work suggests that inhibition of Nrf2 may also depend upon ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis. To address the contribution of Keap1-dependent sequestration versus Nrf2 proteolysis, we identified the E3 ligase that regulates Nrf2 ubiquitination. We demonstrate that Keap1 is not solely a cytosolic anchor; rather, Keap1 is an adaptor that bridges Nrf2 to Cul3. We demonstrate that Cul3-Keap1 complexes regulate Nrf2 polyubiquitination both in vitro and in vivo. Inhibition of either Keap1 or Cul3 increases Nrf2 nuclear accumulation, leading to promiscuous activation of Nrf2-dependent gene expression. Our data demonstrate that Keap1 restrains Nrf2 activity via its capacity to target Nrf2 to a cytoplasmic Cul3-based E3 ligase and suggest a model in which Keap1 coordinately regulates both Nrf2 accumulation and access to target genes.
The bZIP transcription factor Nrf2 controls a genetic program that protects cells from oxidative damage and maintains cellular redox homeostasis. Keap1, a BTB-Kelch protein, is the major upstream regulator of Nrf2. Keap1 functions as a substrate adaptor protein for a Cul3-dependent E3 ubiquitin ligase complex to repress steady-state levels of Nrf2 and Nrf2-dependent transcription. Cullin-dependent ubiquitin ligase complexes have been proposed to undergo dynamic cycles of assembly and disassembly that enable substrate adaptor exchange or recycling. In this report, we have characterized the importance of substrate adaptor recycling for regulation of Keap1-mediated repression of Nrf2. Association of Keap1 with Cul3 was decreased by ectopic expression of CAND1 and was increased by small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated knockdown of CAND1. However, both ectopic overexpression and siRNA-mediated knockdown of CAND1 decreased the ability of Keap1 to target Nrf2 for ubiquitin-dependent degradation, resulting in stabilization of Nrf2 and activation of Nrf2-dependent gene expression. Neddylation of Cul3 on Lys 712 is required for Keap1-dependent ubiquitination of Nrf2 in vivo. However, the K712R mutant Cul3 molecule, which is not neddylated, can still assemble with Keap1 into a functional ubiquitin ligase complex in vitro. These results provide support for a model in which substrate adaptor recycling is required for efficient substrate ubiquitination by cullin-dependent E3 ubiquitin ligase complexes.
Cullins are members of a family of scaffold proteins that assemble multisubunit ubiquitin ligase complexes to confer substrate specificity for the ubiquitination pathway. Cullin3 (Cul3) forms a catalytically inactive BTB-Cul3-Rbx1 (BCR) ubiquitin ligase, which becomes functional upon covalent attachment of the ubiquitin homologue neural-precursor-cell-expressed and developmentally down regulated 8 (Nedd8) near the C terminus of Cul3. Current models suggest that Nedd8 activates cullin complexes by providing a recognition site for a ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme. Based on the following evidence, we propose that Nedd8 activates the BCR ubiquitin ligase by mediating the dimerization of Cul3. First, Cul3 is found as a neddylated heterodimer bound to a BTB domain-containing protein in vivo. Second, the formation of a Cul3 heterodimer is mediated by a Nedd8 molecule, which covalently attaches itself to one Cul3 molecule and binds to the winged-helix B domain at the C terminus of the second Cul3 molecule. Third, complementation experiments revealed that coexpression of two distinct nonfunctional Cul3 mutants can rescue the ubiquitin ligase function of the BCR complex. Likewise, a substrate of the BCR complex binds heterodimeric Cul3, suggesting that the Cul3 complex is active as a dimer. These findings not only provide insight into the architecture of the active BCR complex but also suggest assembly as a regulatory mechanism for activation of all cullin-based ubiquitin ligases.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is a cancer closely associated with immune function, and the TNF G-308A promotor polymorphism, which influences immune function and regulation, was recently reported by the InterLymph Consortium to be associated with NHL risk. TNF signaling activates the NF-κB canonical pathway, leading to transcriptional activation of multiple genes that influence inflammation and immune response. We hypothesized that in addition to TNF signaling, common genetic variation in genes from the NF-κB canonical pathway may affect risk of NHL. We genotyped 54 SNPs within TNF, LTA, and nine NF-κB genes from the canonical pathway (TNFRSF1A, TRADD, TRAF2, TRAF5, RIPK1, CHUK, IKBKB, NFKB1, REL) in a clinic-based study of 441 incident cases and 475 frequency matched controls. Tagging SNPs were selected from HapMap, supplemented by putative functional SNPs for LTA/TNF. We used principal components and haplo.stats to model gene level associations, and logistic regression to model SNP level associations. Compared to the wildtype (GG), the AA genotype for the TNF promoter polymorphism G-308A (rs1800629) was associated with increased risk of NHL (OR=2.14, 95% CI 0.94-4.85), while the GA genotype was not (OR=1.00, 95% CI 0.74-1.34). This association was similar for follicular lymphoma and DLBCL. A previously reported TNF/LTA haplotype was also associated with NHL risk. In gene-level analysis of the NF-κB pathway, only NFKB1 showed a statistically significant association with NHL (p=0.049), and one NFKB1 tagSNP (rs4648022) was associated with NHL risk overall (ordinal OR= 0.59, 95% CI 0.41-0.84; p-trend=0.0037), and for each of the common subtypes. In conclusion, we provide additional evidence for the role of genetic variation in TNF and LTA SNPs and haplotypes with risk of NHL, and we also provide some of the first preliminary evidence for an association of genetic variation in NFKB1, a downstream target of TNF signaling, with risk of NHL.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma; TNF; NF-κB; genetic polymorphisms
The Cul4A gene, which encodes a core component of a cullin-based E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, is over-expressed in breast and hepatocellular cancers. In breast cancers, over-expression of Cul4A strongly correlates with poor prognosis. Also, Cul4A is required for early embryonic development. Early lethality of mouse embryos prevented a detailed analysis of the functions of Cul4A. Here, we used a strain of mice carrying floxed alleles of Cul4A to study its role in cell division, in vitro and in vivo. Embryonic fibroblasts exhibit a severe deficiency in cell proliferation following deletion of Cul4A. We observed that the Cul4A protein is abundantly expressed in brain, liver and in the mammary tissue of pregnant mice. Deletion of Cul4A in liver impairs hepatocyte proliferation during regeneration following carbon tetrachloride induced injury. The Cul4A-deleted cells are slow in entering S phase, and are deficient in progressing through early M phase. Several cell cycle regulators, including p53 and p27Kip1, are de-regulated in the Cul4A-deleted cells. Expression of a dominant negative mutant of p53 causes significant reversal of the proliferation defects in Cul4A-deleted cells. The Cul4A-deleted cells exhibit aberrant number of centrosome, multipolar spindles and micronuclei formation. Furthermore, those cells are sensitive to UV irradiation and exhibit reduced levels of unscheduled DNA synthesis. Together, our observations indicate that Cul4A is required for efficient cell proliferation, control of the centrosome amplification and genome stability.
The ~300 human Cullin-RING ligases (CRLs) are multisubunit E3s in which a RING protein, either RBX1 or RBX2, recruits an E2 to catalyze ubiquitination. RBX1-containing CRLs also can bind Glomulin (GLMN), which binds RBX1’s RING domain, regulates the RBX1-CUL1-containing SCFFBW7 complex, and is disrupted in the disease Glomuvenous Malformation. Here we report the crystal structure of a complex between GLMN, RBX1, and a fragment of CUL1. Structural and biochemical analyses reveal that GLMN adopts a HEAT-like repeat fold that tightly binds the E2-interacting surface of RBX1, inhibiting CRL-mediated chain formation by the E2 CDC34. The structure explains the basis for GLMN’s selectivity toward RBX1 over RBX2, and how disease-associated mutations disrupt GLMN-RBX1 interactions. Our study reveals a mechanism for RING E3 ligase regulation whereby an inhibitor blocks E2 access, and raises the possibility that other E3s are likewise controlled by cellular proteins that mask E2-binding surfaces to mediate inhibition.
Transcription factor Nrf2 is a major regulator of genes encoding phase 2 detoxifying enzymes and antioxidant stress proteins in response to electrophilic agents and oxidative stress. In the absence of such stimuli, Nrf2 is inactive owing to its cytoplasmic retention by Keap1 and rapid degradation through the proteasome system. We examined the contribution of Keap1 to the rapid turnover of Nrf2 (half-life of less than 20 min) and found that a direct association between Keap1 and Nrf2 is required for Nrf2 degradation. In a series of domain function analyses of Keap1, we found that both the BTB and intervening-region (IVR) domains are crucial for Nrf2 degradation, implying that these two domains act to recruit ubiquitin-proteasome factors. Indeed, Cullin 3 (Cul3), a subunit of the E3 ligase complex, was found to interact specifically with Keap1 in vivo. Keap1 associates with the N-terminal region of Cul3 through the IVR domain and promotes the ubiquitination of Nrf2 in cooperation with the Cul3-Roc1 complex. These results thus provide solid evidence that Keap1 functions as an adaptor of Cul3-based E3 ligase. To our knowledge, Nrf2 and Keap1 are the first reported mammalian substrate and adaptor, respectively, of the Cul3-based E3 ligase system.
The Elongin complex was originally identified as a positive regulator of RNA polymerase II and is composed of a transcriptionally active subunit (A) and two regulatory subunits (B and C). The Elongin BC complex enhances the transcriptional activity of Elongin A. “Classical” SOCS box-containing proteins interact with the Elongin BC complex and have ubiquitin ligase activity. They also interact with the scaffold protein Cullin (Cul) and the RING domain protein Rbx and thereby are members of the Cullin RING ligase (CRL) superfamily. The Elongin BC complex acts as an adaptor connecting Cul and SOCS box proteins. Recently, it was demonstrated that classical SOCS box proteins can be further divided into two groups, Cul2- and Cul5-type proteins. The classical SOCS box-containing protein pVHL is now classified as a Cul2-type protein. The Elongin BC complex containing CRL family is now considered two distinct protein assemblies, which play an important role in regulating a variety of cellular processes such as tumorigenesis, signal transduction, cell motility, and differentiation.
ubiquitin; Cullin; Elongin; ECS complex; SCF complex
The SCF (Skp1-Cullins-F box proteins), also known as CRL (Cullin-based RING ligase), is the largest family of E3 ubiquitin ligases that mediate ~20% ubiquitinated protein substrates for 26S proteasome degradation. Through promoting timely degradation of many key regulatory proteins, SCF E3 ligase controls numerous cellular processes; its dysfunction contributes to a number of human diseases, including cancer. The RING component of SCF complex consists of two family members, RBX1 (RING box protein-1), also known as ROC1 (Regulator of Cullins) and RBX2/ROC2 (also known as SAG, Sensitive to Apoptosis Gene), both of which are essential for the catalytic activity of SCF. RBX1 and RBX2 are evolutionarily conserved from yeast to humans and play an essential role during mouse embryonic development. Moreover, RBX1 and RBX2 are both overexpressed in multiple human cancer tissues and required for the growth and survival of cancer cells. In this review, we will discuss the similarities and differences between two RING family members, their regulation of SCF E3 ligase activity, and their role in development, cancer cell survival and skin carcinogenesis, along with a brief discussion of RBX-SCF E3 ligases as the cancer targets and a recently discovered small molecule inhibitor of SCF E3 ligases as a novel class of anticancer drugs.
Anticancer targets; Protein degradation; Neddylation; RING Box proteins; SCF E3 ubiquitin ligases; Ubiquitin-proteasome system
The SCF (Skp1–cullin–F-box proteins), also known as CRL (cullin-based RING ligase), is the largest family of E3 ubiquitin ligases that mediate approximately 20% ubiquitinated protein substrates for 26S proteasome degradation. Through promoting timely degradation of many key regulatory proteins, SCF E3 ligase controls numerous cellular processes; its dysfunction contributes to a number of human diseases, including cancer. The RING component of SCF complex consists of 2 family members, RBX1 (RING box protein 1), also known as ROC1 (regulator of cullins), and RBX2/ROC2 (also known as SAG [sensitive to apoptosis gene]), both of which are essential for the catalytic activity of SCF. RBX1 and RBX2 are evolutionarily conserved from yeast to humans and play an essential role during mouse embryonic development. Moreover, RBX1 and RBX2 are both overexpressed in multiple human cancer tissues and required for the growth and survival of cancer cells. In this review, we will discuss the similarities and differences between 2 RING family members, their regulation of SCF E3 ligase activity, and their role in development, cancer cell survival, and skin carcinogenesis, along with a brief discussion of RBX-SCF E3 ligases as the cancer targets and a recently discovered small molecule inhibitor of SCF E3 ligases as a novel class of anticancer drugs.
anticancer targets; protein degradation; neddylation; RING box proteins; SCF E3 ubiquitin ligases; ubiquitin-proteasome system
ECV is an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, which is composed of elongins B and C, Rbx1, Cul2, and the substrate-conferring von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumorsuppressor protein that targets the catalytic α subunit of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) for oxygen-dependent ubiquitin-mediated destruction. Mutations in VHL that compromise proper HIFα regulation through ECV have been documented in the majority of renal cell carcinomas, underscoring the significance of the VHL-HIF pathway in renal epithelial oncogenesis. Recent evidence has shown that the modification of Cul2 by the ubiquitin-like molecule NEDD8 increases the activity of ECV to ubiquitylate HIFα. However, the underlying mechanism responsible for the NEDD8-mediated induction of ECV function is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that oxygen-dependent recognition of HIFα by VHL triggers Rbx1-dependent neddylation of Cul2, which preferentially engages the E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme UbcH5a. These events establish a central role for the neddylation of Cul2 in a previously unrecognized, temporally coordinated activation of ECV with the recruitment of its substrate HIFα.
Cul2; NEDD8; UbcH5a; HIFα; VHL
Simian virus 40 large T antigen (T Ag) is capable of immortalizing and transforming rodent cells. The transforming activity of T Ag is due in large part to perturbation of the tumor suppressor proteins p53 and the retinoblastoma (pRB) family members. Inactivation of these tumor suppressors may not be sufficient for T Ag-mediated cellular transformation. It has been shown that T Ag associates with an SCF-like complex that contains a member of the cullin family of E3 ubiquitin ligases, CUL7, as well as SKP1, RBX1, and an F-box protein, FBXW8. We identified T Ag residues 69 to 83 as required for T Ag binding to the CUL7 complex. We demonstrate that Δ69-83 T Ag, while it lost its ability to associate with CUL7, retained binding to p53 and pRB family members. In the presence of CUL7, wild-type (WT) T Ag but not Δ69-83 T Ag was able to induce proliferation of mouse embryo fibroblasts, an indication of cellular transformation. In contrast, WT and Δ69-83 T Ag enabled mouse embryo fibroblasts to proliferate to similarly high densities in the absence of CUL7. Our data suggest that, in addition to p53 and the pRB family members, T Ag serves to bind to and inactivate the growth-suppressing properties of CUL7. In addition, these results imply that, at least in the presence of T Ag, CUL7 may function as a tumor suppressor.
Poly-glutamine (polyQ) diseases are neurodegenerative disorders characterised by expanded CAG repeats in the causative genes whose proteins form inclusion bodies. Various E3 ubiquitin ligases are implicated in neurodegenerative disorders. We report that dysfunction of the SCF (Skp1-Cul1-F-box protein) complex, one of the most well-characterised ubiquitin ligases, is associated with pathology in polyQ diseases like Huntington's disease (HD) and Machado–Joseph disease (MJD). We found that Cullin1 (Cul1) and Skp1, core components of the SCF complex, are reduced in HD mice brain. A reduction in Cul1 levels was also observed in cellular HD model and fly models of both HD and MJD. We show that Cul1 is able to genetically modify mutant huntingtin aggregates because its silencing results in increased aggregate load in cultured cells. Moreover, we demonstrate that silencing dCul1 and dSkp1 in Drosophila results in increased aggregate load and enhanced polyQ-induced toxicity. Our results imply that reduced levels of SCF complex might contribute to polyQ disease pathology.
Cullin1; E3 ligase; Huntington's disease; neurodegeneration; SCF
Loss-of-function mutations in the nuclear factor erythroid-2 related factor-2 (Nrf2) inhibitor, Kelch-like-ECH-associated protein (Keap1), result in increased Nrf2 activity in non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and confer therapeutic resistance. We detected point mutations in Keap1 gene leading to non-conservative amino acid substitutions in prostate cancer cells. We found novel transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms of Keap1 inactivation such as promoter CpG island hypermethylation and aberrant splicing of Keap1 in DU-145 cells. Very low levels of Keap1 mRNA were detected in DU-145 cells, which significantly increased by treatment with DNA methyltransferase inhibitor 5-aza-cytidine. The loss of Keap1 function led to an enhanced activity of Nrf2 and its downstream electrophile/drug detoxification pathway. Inhibition of Nrf2 expression in DU-145 cells by RNAi attenuated the expression of glutathione, thioredoxin, and the drug efflux pathways involved in counteracting electrophiles, oxidative stress, and detoxification of a broad spectrum of drugs. DU-145 cells expressing Nrf2-shRNA had lower levels of total glutathione and higher levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species. Attenuation of Nrf2 function in DU-145 cells enhanced sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation-induced cell death. In addition, Inhibition of Nrf2 greatly suppressed in vitro and in vivo tumor growth of DU-145 prostate cancer cells. Thus, targeting Nrf2 pathway in prostate cancer cells may provide a novel strategy to enhance chemo- and radio-therapy responsiveness and ameliorate the growth and tumorigenecity leading to improved clinical outcomes.
Nrf2; Keap1; Prostate cancer; mutation; chemo-resistance; radio-resistance; RNAi
Nrf2:INrf2 acts as a sensor for oxidative/electrophilic stress. INrf2 serves as an adaptor to link Nrf2 to the ubiquitin ligase Cul3-Rbx1 complex that ubiquitinate and degrade Nrf2. Under basal conditions, cytosolic INrf2/Cul3-Rbx1 is constantly degrading Nrf2. When a cell encounters stress Nrf2 dissociates from the INrf2 and translocates into the nucleus. Oxidative/electrophilic stress induced modification of INrf2Cysteine151 and/or protein kinase C (PKC)-mediated phosporylation of Nrf2Serine40 controls Nrf2 release from INrf2 followed by stabilization and nuclear translocation of Nrf2. Nrf2 binds to the antioxidant response element (ARE) and activates a myriad of genes that protect cells against oxidative/electrophilic stress and neoplasia. A delayed response of oxidative/electrophilic stress activates GSK-3β that phosphorylates Fyn at unknown threonine residue(s). Phosphorylated Fyn translocates to the nucleus and phosphorylates Nrf2Tyrosine568 that leads to nuclear export and degradation of Nrf2. Prothymosin-α mediated nuclear translocation of INrf2 also degrades nuclear Nrf2. The degradation of Nrf2 both in cytosol and nuclear compartments rapidly brings down its levels to normal resulting in suppression of Nrf2 downstream gene expression. An autoregulatory loop between Nrf2 and INrf2 controls their cellular abundance. Nrf2 regulates INrf2 by controlling its transcription, and INrf2 controls Nrf2 by degrading it. In conclusion, switching on and off of Nrf2 combined with promoting an autoregulatory loop between them regulates activation/deactivation of defensive genes leading to protection of cells against adverse effects of oxidative and electrophilic stress and promote cell survival.
Nrf; INrf2 (keap1); Oxidative/electrophilic stress; Defensive gene expression; Cell signaling; Cell survival