The von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein (pVHL) negatively regulates hypoxia-inducible mRNAs such as the mRNA encoding vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). This activity has been linked to its ability to form multimeric complexes that contain elongin C, elongin B, and Cul2. To understand this process in greater detail, we performed a series of in vitro binding assays using pVHL, elongin B, and elongin C variants as well as synthetic peptide competitors derived from pVHL or elongin C. A subdomain of elongin C (residues 17–50) was necessary and sufficient for detectable binding to elongin B. In contrast, elongin B residues required for binding to elongin C were not confined to a discrete colinear domain. We found that the pVHL (residues 157–171) is necessary and sufficient for binding to elongin C in vitro and is frequently mutated in families with VHL disease. These mutations preferentially involve residues that directly bind to elongin C and/or alter the conformation of pVHL such that binding to elongin C is at least partially diminished. These results are consistent with the view that diminished binding of pVHL to the elongins plays a causal role in VHL disease.
J. Clin. Invest. 104:1583–1591 (1999).
We examined the biogenesis of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor protein (pVHL) in vitro and in vivo. pVHL formed a complex with the cytosolic chaperonin containing TCP-1 (CCT or TRiC) en route to assembly with elongin B/C and the subsequent formation of the VCB-Cul2 ubiquitin ligase. Blocking the interaction of pVHL with elongin B/C resulted in accumulation of pVHL within the CCT complex. pVHL present in purified VHL-CCT complexes, when added to rabbit reticulocyte lysate, proceeded to form VCB and VCB-Cul2. Thus, CCT likely functions, at least in part, by retaining VHL chains pending the availability of elongin B/C for final folding and/or assembly. Tumor-associated mutations within exon II of the VHL syndrome had diverse effects upon the stability and/or function of pVHL-containing complexes. First, a pVHL mutant lacking the entire region encoded by exon II did not bind to CCT and yet could still assemble into complexes with elongin B/C and elongin B/C-Cul2. Second, a number of tumor-derived missense mutations in exon II did not decrease CCT binding, and most had no detectable effect upon VCB-Cul2 assembly. Many exon II mutants, however, were found to be defective in the binding to and subsequent ubiquitination of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α), a substrate of the VCB-Cul2 ubiquitin ligase. We conclude that the selection pressure to mutate VHL exon II during tumorigenesis does not relate to loss of CCT binding but may reflect quantitative or qualitative defects in HIF binding and/or in pVHL-dependent ubiquitin ligase activity.
Inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumour suppressor
gene product pVHL is the cause of inherited VHL disease and is associated with sporadic kidney cancer. pVHL is found in a multiprotein complex with elongins B/C, Cul2, and Rbx1 forming an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex called VEC. This modular enzyme targets the α subunits of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) for ubiquitin-mediated destruction. Consequently, tumour cells lacking functional pVHL overproduce the products of HIF-target genes such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which promotes angiogenesis. This likely accounts for the hypervascular nature of VHL-associated neoplasms. Although pVHL has been linked to the cell-cycle, differentiation, and the regulation of extracellular matrix assembly, microenvironment pH, and tissue invasiveness, this review will focus on the recent insights into the molecular mechanisms governing the E3 ubiquitin ligase function of VEC.
Inactivation of von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein (pVHL) is associated with von Hippel-Lindau disease, an inherited cancer syndrome, as well as the majority of patients with sporadic clear cell renal carcinoma (RCC). While the involvement of pVHL in oxygen sensing through targeting HIFα subunits to ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis has been well documented, less is known about pVHL regulation under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. We found that pVHL levels decreased in hypoxia and that hypoxia-induced cell cycle arrest is associated with pVHL expression in RCC cells. pVHL levels fluctuate during the cell cycle, paralleling cyclin B1 levels, with decreased levels in mitosis and G1. pVHL contains consensus Destruction box sequences, and pVHL associates with Cdh1, an activator of the anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) E3 ubiquitin ligase. We show that pVHL has a decreased half-life in G1, Cdh1 downregulation results in increased pVHL expression, while Cdh1 overexpression results in decreased pVHL expression. Taken together these results suggest that pVHL is a novel substrate of APC/CCdh1. Destruction box-independent pVHL degradation was also detected, indicating that other ubiquitin ligases are also activated for pVHL degradation.
Von Hippel-Lindau protein; renal cell carcinoma; anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome; hypoxia; cell cycle
pVHL, product of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene, functions as the substrate recognition component of an E3-ubiquitin ligase that targets proteins for ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. Hypoxia-inducible factor α (HIFα) is the well-known substrate of pVHL. Besides HIFα, pVHL also binds to many other proteins and has multiple functions. In this manuscript, we report that the nuclear clusterin (nCLU) is a target of pVHL. We found that pVHL had a direct interaction with nCLU. nCLU bound to pVHL at pVHL's β domain, the site for recognition of substrate, indicating that nCLU might be a substrate of pVHL. Interestingly, pVHL bound to nCLU but did not lead to nCLU destruction. Further studies indicated that pVHL mediated K63-linked ubiquitination of nCLU and promoted nCLU nuclear translocation. In summary, our results disclose a novel function of pVHL that mediates K63-linked ubiquitination and identify nCLU as a new target of pVHL.
The von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein (pVHL) is inactivated in the hereditary cancer syndrome von Hippel-Lindau disease and in the majority of sporadic renal carcinomas. pVHL is the substrate-binding subunit of the CBCVHL ubiquitin ligase complex that negatively regulates cell growth by promoting the degradation of hypoxia-inducible transcription factor subunits (HIF1/2α). Proteomics-based identification of novel pVHL substrates is hampered by their short half-life and low abundancy in mammalian cells. The usefulness of yeast two-hybrid (Y2H) approaches, on the other hand, has been limited by the failure of pVHL to adopt its native structure and by the absence of prolylhydroxylase activity critical for pVHL substrate recognition. Therefore, we modified the Y2H system to faithfully reconstitute the physical interaction between pVHL and its substrates. Our approach relies on the coexpression of pVHL with the cofactors Elongin B and Elongin C and with HIF1/2α prolylhydroxylases. In a proof-of-principle Y2H screen, we identified the known substrates HIF1/2α and new candidate substrates including diacylglycerol kinase iota, demonstrating that our strategy allows detection of stable interactions between pVHL and otherwise elusive cellular targets. Additional future applications may include structure/function analyses of pVHL-HIF1/2α binding and screens for therapeutically relevant compounds that either stabilize or disrupt this interaction.
The von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene product is the recognition component of an E3 ubiquitin ligase and is inactivated in patients with VHL disease and in most sporadic clear cell renal carcinomas (RCC). pVHL controls oxygen-responsive gene expression at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. The vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) mRNA contains AU-rich elements (AREs) in the 3' untranslated region, and mRNA stability or decay is determined through ARE-associated RNA binding factors. We show here that levels of the ARE binding factor, AUF1, are regulated by pVHL and by hypoxia. pVHL and AUF1 stably associate with each other in cells and AUF1 is a ubiquitylation target of pVHL. AUF1 and another RNA binding protein, HuR, bind to VEGFA ARE RNA. Ribonucleoprotein (RNP)-immunoprecipitations showed that pVHL associates indirectly with VEGFA mRNA through AUF1 and/or HuR, and this complex is associated with VEGFA mRNA decay under normoxic conditions. Under hypoxic conditions pVHL is downregulated, while AUF1 and HuR binding to VEGF mRNA is maintained, and this complex is associated with stabilized mRNA. These studies suggest that AUF1 and HuR bind to VEGFA ARE RNA under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions, and that a pVHL-RNP complex determines VEGFA mRNA decay. These studies further implicate the ubiquitin-proteasome system in ARE-mediated RNA degradation.
von Hippel-Lindau; hypoxia; VEGF; AUF1; HuR; hnRNP
The von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene encodes a component of a ubiquitin ligase complex containing elongin B, elongin C, cullin 2, and Rbx1, which acts as a negative regulator of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF). VHL ubiquitinates and degrades the alpha subunits of HIF and this is proposed to suppress tumorigenesis and tumor angiogenesis. Several lines of evidence also suggest important roles for HIF-independent VHL functions in maintenance of primary cilium, extracellular matrix formation, and tumor suppression.
We undertook a series of proteomic analyses to gain a comprehensive picture of the VHL-interacting proteins. We found that the ARF tumor suppressor interacts with VHL30, a longer VHL isoform, but not with VHL19, a shorter VHL isoform. ARF was found to release VHL30 from the E3 ligase complex, promoting the binding of VHL30 to a protein arginine methyltransferase, PRMT3. Our analysis of the VHL19 interactome also uncovered that VHL19 displays affinity to collagens and their biosynthesis enzymes.
von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor; ARF; PRMT3; p53; interactome; proteomics
Biallelic inactivation of the von Hippel–Lindau tumor suppressor gene (VHL) is linked to the development of hereditary (VHL-associated) and sporadic clear-cell renal carcinomas as well as other abnormalities. The VHL gene product, pVHL, is part of an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex that targets the α subunits of the heterodimeric transcription factor HIF (hypoxia-inducible factor) for degradation in the presence of oxygen. Here we report that a HIF2α variant lacking both of its two prolyl hydroxylation/pVHL-binding sites prevents tumor inhibition by pVHL in a DNA-binding dependent manner. Conversely, downregulation of HIF2α with short hairpin RNAs is sufficient to suppress tumor formation by pVHL-defective renal carcinoma cells. These results establish that tumor suppression by pVHL is linked to regulation of HIF target genes.
Specific downregulation of the transcription factor HIF2α is sufficient to suppress tumor formation by cells lacking the functional tumor suppressor (pVHL), demonstrating that tumor suppression by pVHL is linked to regulation of HIF target genes
While missense mutations of von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) gene are the most common germline mutation underlying this heritable cancer syndrome, the mechanism of tumorigenesis is unknown. We found a quantitative reduction of missense mutant VHL protein (pVHL) in VHL-associated tumors associated with physiologic mRNA expression. While mutant pVHL is unstable and degraded contemporarily with translation, it retains its E3 ligase function, including hypoxia inducible factor degradation. The premature pVHL degradation is due to misfolding and imbalance of chaperonin binding. Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis) can modulate this pathway by inhibiting the HDAC6-Hsp90 chaperone axis, stabilizing pVHL and restoring activity comparable to wild type protein in vitro and in animal models (786-O tumor xenografts). HDACi mediated stabilization of missense pVHL significantly attenuates the growth of 786-O rodent tumor model. These findings provide direct biologic insight into VHL-associated tumors and elucidate a new treatment paradigm for VHL.
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) is rapidly degraded by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway under normoxic conditions. Ubiquitination of HIF-1α is mediated by interaction with von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein (pVHL). In our previous report, we found that hypoxia-induced active signal transducer and activator of transcription3 (STAT3) accelerated the accumulation of HIF-1α protein and prolonged its half-life in solid tumor cells. However, its specific mechanisms are not fully understood. Thus, we examined the role of STAT3 in the mechanism of pVHL-mediated HIF-1α stability. We found that STAT3 interacts with C-terminal domain of HIF-1α and stabilizes HIF-1α by inhibition of pVHL binding to HIF-1α. The binding between HIF-1α and pVHL, negative regulator of HIF-1α stability, was interfered dose-dependently by overexpressed constitutive active STAT3. Moreover, we found that the enhanced HIF-1α protein levels by active STAT3 are due to decrease of poly-ubiquitination of HIF-1α protein via inhibition of interaction between pVHL and HIF-1α. Taken together, our results suggest that STAT3 decreases the pVHL-mediated ubiquitination of HIF-1α through competition with pVHL for binding to HIF-1α, and then stabilizes HIF-1α protein levels.
anoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor1, α subunit; neoplasms; STAT3 transcription factor; ubiquitination; von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein
von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease is a hereditary cancer syndrome caused by inherited mutations that inactivate the VHL tumor suppressor gene. The VHL locus encodes pVHL, whose best studied function is to bind to and downregulate the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) family of oxygen dependent transcription factors. Early efforts have established the fundamental role of HIF in VHL-defective tumorigenesis and in particular renal cell carcinoma (RCC). However, recent findings have revealed an alternate side to the story, the HIF-independent tumor suppressor functions of pVHL. These include pVHL’s ability to regulate apoptosis and senescence as well as its role in the maintenance of primary cilia and orchestrating the deposition of the extracellular matrix (ECM). To what extent these HIF-dependent and HIF-independent functions cooperate in VHL-defective tumorigenesis remains to be determined.
von Hippel-Lindau; pVHL; HIF; hypoxia-inducible factor; tumorigenesis; renal cell carcinoma; pheochromocytoma; senescence; cilia
Mutational inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene has been linked to hereditary as well as sporadic clear cell renal carcinomas. The product of the VHL gene, pVHL, acts to target hypoxia-inducible factor alpha (HIF-α) subunits for ubiquitination and subsequent degradation. Using an RNA interference approach to lower levels of HIF-2α in two different renal cell lines that lack functional pVHL, we have tested the contribution of HIF-2α toward cellular pVHL activities.
Knockdown of HIF-2α resulted in cell cycle arrest of renal cells that were grown on collagen I, indicating that this pVHL function is dependent on HIF-2α regulation. However, cellular morphological changes and downregulation of integrins α5 and β1, which were seen upon pVHL replacement, were not faithfully phenocopied by HIF-2α reduction. Moreover, fibronectin deposition and expression of renal cell differentiation markers were observed in cells containing replaced pVHL, but not in HIF-2α knockdown cells, indicating that these pVHL functions may occur independently of HIF-2α downregulation.
These results indicate that HIF-2α regulation is not sufficient for pVHL-induced renal cell differentiation. We hypothesize that in addition to HIF-2α dysregulation, abrogation of additional pVHL functions is required for the initiation of renal carcinogenesis.
Functional inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene is the cause of the familial VHL disease and most sporadic renal clear-cell carcinomas (RCC). pVHL has been shown to play a role in the destruction of hypoxia-inducible factor α (HIF-α) subunits via ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis and in the regulation of fibronectin matrix assembly. Although most disease-causing pVHL mutations hinder the regulation of the HIF pathway, every disease-causing pVHL mutant tested to date has failed to promote the assembly of the fibronectin matrix, underscoring its potential importance in VHL disease. Here, we report that a ubiquitin-like molecule called NEDD8 covalently modifies pVHL. A nonneddylateable pVHL mutant, while retaining its ability to ubiquitylate HIF, failed to bind to and promote the assembly of the fibronectin matrix. Expression of the neddylation-defective pVHL in RCC cells, while restoring the regulation of HIF, failed to promote the differentiated morphology in a three-dimensional growth assay and was insufficient to suppress the formation of tumors in SCID mice. These results suggest that NEDD8 modification of pVHL plays an important role in fibronectin matrix assembly and that in the absence of such regulation, an intact HIF pathway is insufficient to prevent VHL-associated tumorigenesis.
Inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor, pVHL, is associated with both hereditary and sporadic renal cysts and renal cell carcinoma, which are commonly thought to arise from the renal proximal tubule. pVHL regulates the protein stability of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-α subunits and loss of pVHL function leads to HIF stabilization. The role of HIF in the development of VHL-associated renal lesions remains to be determined. To investigate the functional consequences of pVHL inactivation and the role of HIF signaling in renal epithelial cells, we used the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) promoter to generate transgenic mice in which Cre-recombinase is expressed in the renal proximal tubule and in hepatocytes. We found that conditional inactivation of VHL in PEPCK-Cre mutants resulted in renal cyst development that was associated with increased erythropoietin levels and polycythemia. Increased expression of the HIF target gene erythropoietin was limited to the liver, whereas expression of carbonic anhydrase 9 and multidrug resistance gene 1 was up-regulated in the renal cortex of mutant mice. Inactivation of the HIF-α binding partner, arylhydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (Arnt), but not Hif-1α, suppressed the development of renal cysts. Here, we present the first mouse model of VHL-associated renal disease that will provide a basis for further genetic studies to define the molecular events that are required for the progression of VHL-associated renal cysts to clear cell renal cell carcinoma.
Human renal clear cell carcinoma (RCC) is frequently associated with loss of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor (pVHL), which inhibits ubiquitylation and degradation of the alpha subunits of hypoxia-inducible transcription factor. pVHL also ubiquitylates the large subunit of RNA polymerase II, Rpb1, phosphorylated on serine 5 (Ser5) within the C-terminal domain (CTD). A hydroxylated proline 1465 within an LXXLAP motif located N-terminal to the CTD allows the interaction of Rpb1 with pVHL. Here we report that in RCC cells, pVHL regulates expression of Rpb1 and is necessary for low-grade oxidative-stress-induced recruitment of Rpb1 to the DNA-engaged fraction and for its P1465 hydroxylation, phosphorylation, and nondegradative ubiquitylation. Egln-9-type prolyl hydroxylases, PHD1 and PHD2, coimmunoprecipitated with Rpb1 in the chromatin fraction of VHL+ RCC cells in response to oxidative stress, and PHD1 was necessary for P1465 hydroxylation while PHD2 had an inhibitory effect. P1465 hydroxylation was required for oxidative-stress-induced Ser5 phosphorylation of Rpb1. Importantly, overexpression of wild-type Rpb1 stimulated formation of kidney tumors by VHL+ cells, and this effect was abolished by P1465A mutation of Rpb1. These data indicate that through this novel pathway involving P1465 hydroxylation and Ser5 phosphorylation of Rbp1, pVHL may regulate tumor growth.
Biallelic inactivating mutations of the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene (VHL) are a hallmark of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CCRCC), the most common histologic subtype of RCC. Biallelic VHL loss results in accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factor alpha (HIFα). Restoring expression of the wild-type protein encoded by VHL (pVHL) in tumors with biallelic VHL inactivation (VHL−/−) suppresses tumorigenesis, and pVHL-mediated degradation of HIFα is necessary and sufficient for VHL-mediated tumor suppression. The downstream targets of HIFα that promote renal carcinogenesis have not been completely elucidated. Recently, VHL loss was shown to activate nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), a family of transcription factors that promotes tumor growth. Here we show that VHL loss drives NF-κB activation by resulting in HIFα accumulation, which induces expression of transforming growth factor alpha, with consequent activation of an epidermal growth factor receptor/phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase/protein kinase B (AKT)/IκB-kinase alpha/NF-κB signaling cascade. We also show that components of this signaling pathway promote the growth of VHL−/− tumor cells. Members of this pathway represent viable drug targets in VHL−/− tumors, such as those associated with CCRCC.
A recent analysis of gene expression in renal cell carcinoma cells led to the identification of mRNAs whose translation was dependent on the presence of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene product, pVHL. Here, we investigate the finding that pVHL-expressing RCC cells (VHL+) exhibited elevated levels of polysome-associated p53 mRNA and increased p53 protein levels compared with VHL-defective (VHL−) cells. Our findings indicate that p53 translation is specifically heightened in VHL+ cells, given that (i) p53 mRNA abundance in VHL+ and VHL− cells was comparable, (ii) p53 degradation did not significantly influence p53 expression, and (iii) p53 synthesis was markedly induced in VHL+ cells. Electrophoretic mobility shift and immunoprecipitation assays to detect endogenous and radiolabeled p53 transcripts revealed that the RNA-binding protein HuR, previously shown to regulate mRNA turnover and translation, was capable of binding to the 3′ untranslated region of the p53 mRNA in a VHL-dependent fashion. Interestingly, while whole-cell levels of HuR in VHL+ and VHL− cells were comparable, HuR was markedly more abundant in the cytoplasmic and polysome-associated fractions of VHL+ cells. In keeping with earlier reports, the elevated cytoplasmic HuR in VHL+ cells was likely due to the reduced AMP-activated kinase activity in these cells. Demonstration that HuR indeed contributed to the increased expression of p53 in VHL+ cells was obtained through use of RNA interference, which effectively reduced HuR expression and in turn caused marked decreases in p53 translation and p53 abundance. Taken together, our findings support a role for pVHL in elevating p53 expression, implicate HuR in enhancing VHL-mediated p53 translation, and suggest that VHL-mediated p53 upregulation may contribute to pVHL's tumor suppressive functions in renal cell carcinoma.
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
Based on evidence that the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor protein is associated with polysomes and interacts with translation regulatory factors, we set out to investigate the potential influence of pVHL on protein translation. To this end, renal cell carcinoma (RCC) cells that either lacked pVHL or expressed pVHL through stable transfection were used to prepare RNA from cytosolic (unbound) and polysome-bound fractions. Hybridization of cDNA arrays using RNA from each fraction revealed a subset of transcripts whose abundance in polysomes decreased when pVHL function was restored. The tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) mRNA was identified as one of the transcripts that preferentially associated with polysomes in pVHL-deficient cells. Additional evidence that the TNF-α mRNA was a target of translational repression by pVHL was obtained from reporter gene assays, which further revealed that pVHL's inhibitory influence on protein synthesis occurred through the TNF-α 3′-untranslated region. Our findings uncover a novel function for the pVHL tumor suppressor protein as regulator of protein translation.
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
von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease is caused by germ-line mutations in the VHL tumor suppressor gene and is the most common cause of inherited renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Mutations in the VHL gene also occur in a large majority of sporadic cases of clear-cell RCC, which have high intrinsic resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Here we show that VHL-deficient RCC cells express lower levels of the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family protein BIMEL and are more resistant to etoposide and UV radiation induced death compared to the same cells stably expressing the wild type VHL protein (pVHL). Re-introducing pVHL into VHL-null cells increased the half-life of BIMEL protein without affecting its mRNA expression, and over-expressing pVHL inhibited BIMEL polyubiquitination. Suppressing pVHL expression with RNA interference resulted in a decrease in BIMEL protein and a corresponding decrease in the sensitivity of RCC cells to apoptotic stimuli. Directly inhibiting BIMEL expression in pVHL-expressing RCC cells caused a similar decrease in cell death. These results demonstrate that pVHL acts to promote BIMEL protein stability in RCC cells, and that destabilization of BIMEL in the absence of pVHL contributes to the increased resistance of VHL-null RCC cells to certain apoptotic stimuli.
VHL; BIMEL; renal cell carcinoma; apoptosis; protein stability
The VHL gatekeeper tumour suppressor gene is inactivated in the familial cancer syndrome von Hippel-Lindau disease and in most sporadic clear cell renal cell carcinomas. Recently the VHL gene product has been identified as a specific component of a SCF-like complex, which regulates proteolytic degradation of the hypoxia inducible transcription factors HIF-1 and HIF-2. pVHL is critical for normal development and mRNA expression studies suggest a role in nephrogenesis. Despite the importance of VHL in oncogenesis and development, little is known about the regulation of VHL expression. To investigate VHL promoter activity, we performed comparative sequence analysis of human, primate, and rodent 5‘ VHL sequences. We then proceeded to deletion analysis of regions showing significant evolutionary conservation between human and rat promoter sequences, and defined two positive and one negative regulatory regions. Analysis of specific putative transcription factor binding sites identified a functional Sp1 site, which was shown to be a regulatory element. Overlapping Sp1/AP2 sites were also identified and candidate E2F1 binding sites evaluated. Three binding sites for as yet unidentified transcription factors were mapped also. These investigations provide a basis for elucidating the regulation of VHL expression in development, the molecular pathology of epigenetic silencing of VHL in tumourigenesis, and suggest a possible link between Sp1, VHL, and nephrogenesis.
Agonist-induced ubiquitylation and degradation of heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide–binding protein (G protein)–coupled receptors (GPCRs) play an essential role in surface receptor homeostasis, thereby tuning many physiological processes. Although β-arrestin and affiliated E3 ligases mediate agonist-stimulated lysosomal degradation of the β2-adrenergic receptor (β2AR), a prototypic GPCR, the molecular cues that mark receptors for ubiquitylation and the regulation of receptor degradation by the proteasome remain poorly understood. We show that the von Hippel–Lindau tumor suppressor protein (pVHL)–E3 ligase complex, known for its regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) proteins, interacts with and ubiquitylates the β2AR, thereby decreasing receptor abundance. We further show that the interaction of pVHL with β2AR is dependent on proline hydroxylation (proline-382 and -395) and that the dioxygenase EGLN3 interacts directly with the β2AR to serve as an endogenous β2AR prolyl hydroxylase. Under hypoxic conditions, receptor hydroxylation and subsequent ubiquitylation decrease dramatically, thus attenuating receptor degradation and down-regulation. Notably, in both cells and tissue, the abundance of endogenous β2AR is shown to reflect constitutive turnover by EGLN3 and pVHL. Our findings provide insight into GPCR regulation, broaden the functional scope of prolyl hydroxylation, and expand our understanding of the cellular response to hypoxia.
Loss of function mutations in the von Hippel-Lindau (pVHL) tumor suppressor protein are tumorigenic. In silico analysis of the structure and folding of WT pVHL identified in its core an aromatic tetrahedron, essential for stabilizing the protein. The mutations disrupt the aromatic tetrahedron, leading to misfolding of pVHL. Using biophysical methods we confirmed the in silico predictions, demonstrating that mutant pVHL proteins have lower stability than the WT, distort the core domain and as a result reduce the ability of the protein to bind its target HIF-1α. Using bacterial pVHL-EGFP based assay we screened for osmolytes capable of restoring folding of mutant pVHL. Among them, Arginine was the most effective and was verified by in vitro assays as a potent re-folder of pVHL. This resulted in functional restoration of the mutant proteins to the level of the WT.