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1.  Genetic Reevaluation of the Role of F-Box Proteins in Cyclin D1 Degradation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(3):590-605.
D-type cyclins play a pivotal role in G1-S progression of the cell cycle, and their expression is frequently deregulated in cancer. Cyclin D1 has a half-life of only ∼30 min as a result of its ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation, with various F-box proteins, including Fbxo4, Fbxw8, Skp2, and Fbxo31, having been found to contribute to its ubiquitylation. We have now generated Fbxo4-deficient mice and found no abnormalities in these animals. Cyclin D1 accumulation was thus not observed in Fbxo4−/− mouse tissues. The half-life of cyclin D1 in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) prepared from Fbxo4−/−, Fbxw8−/−, and Fbxo4−/−; Fbxw8−/− mice also did not differ from that in wild-type MEFs. Additional depletion of Skp2 and Fbxo31 in Fbxo4−/−; Fbxw8−/− MEFs by RNA interference did not affect cyclin D1 stability. Although Fbxo31 depletion in MEFs increased cyclin D1 abundance, this effect appeared attributable to upregulation of cyclin D1 mRNA. Furthermore, abrogation of the function of the Skp1–Cul1–F-box protein (SCF) complex or the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) complexes did not alter the half-life of cyclin D1, whereas cyclin D1 degradation was dependent largely on proteasome activity. Our genetic analyses thus do not support a role for any of the four F-box proteins examined in cyclin D1 degradation during normal cell cycle progression. They suggest the existence of other ubiquitin ligases that target cyclin D1 for proteolysis.
PMCID: PMC3266600  PMID: 22124152
2.  Histone H1 Recruitment by CHD8 Is Essential for Suppression of the Wnt–β-Catenin Signaling Pathway 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(2):501-512.
Members of the chromodomain helicase DNA-binding (CHD) family of proteins are thought to regulate gene expression. Among mammalian CHD proteins, CHD8 was originally isolated as a negative regulator of the Wnt–β-catenin signaling pathway that binds directly to β-catenin and suppresses its transactivation activity. The mechanism by which CHD8 inhibits β-catenin-dependent transcription has been unclear, however. Here we show that CHD8 promotes the association of β-catenin and histone H1, with formation of the trimeric complex on chromatin being required for inhibition of β-catenin-dependent transactivation. A CHD8 mutant that lacks the histone H1 binding domain did not show such inhibitory activity, indicating that histone H1 recruitment is essential for the inhibitory effect of CHD8. Furthermore, either depletion of histone H1 or expression of a dominant negative mutant of this protein resulted in enhancement of the response to Wnt signaling. These observations reveal a new mode of regulation of the Wnt signaling pathway by CHD8, which counteracts β-catenin function through recruitment of histone H1 to Wnt target genes. Given that CHD8 is expressed predominantly during embryogenesis, it may thus contribute to setting a threshold for responsiveness to Wnt signaling that operates in a development-dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC3255766  PMID: 22083958
3.  Protrudin serves as an adaptor molecule that connects KIF5 and its cargoes in vesicular transport during process formation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(23):4602-4620.
Protrudin is a key regulator of vesicular transport during neurite extension. Using a proteomics approach, this study identified KIF5 as a protrudin-associated protein. Protrudin functioned synergistically with KIF5 and facilitated the interaction of KIF5 with Rab11, suggesting that the Rab11–protrudin–KIF5 complex contributes to vesicular transport in neurons.
Neurons are highly polarized cells with long neurites. Vesicular transport is required for neurite extension. We recently identified protrudin as a key regulator of vesicular transport during neurite extension. Expression of protrudin in nonneuronal cells thus induces formation of neurite-like membrane protrusions. We adopted a proteomics approach to identify proteins that associate with protrudin. Among the protrudin-associated proteins, including many with a function related to intracellular trafficking, we focused on KIF5, a motor protein that mediates anterograde vesicular transport in neurons. A coimmunoprecipitation assay confirmed that endogenous protrudin and KIF5 interact in mouse brain. Overexpression of KIF5 induced the formation of membrane protrusions in HeLa cells, reminiscent of the effect of protrudin overexpression. Forced expression of both protrudin and KIF5 promoted protrusion extension in a synergistic manner, whereas depletion of either protein attenuated protrusion formation. Protrudin facilitated the interaction of KIF5 with Rab11, VAP-A and -B, Surf4, and RTN3, suggesting that protrudin serves as an adaptor protein and that the protrudin–KIF5 complex contributes to the transport of these proteins in neurons. Given that mutation of protrudin or KIF5 is a cause of human hereditary spastic paraplegia, the protrudin–KIF5 axis appears to be integral to neuronal function.
PMCID: PMC3226478  PMID: 21976701
4.  Fbxw7 regulates lipid metabolism and cell fate decisions in the mouse liver 
E3 ubiquitin ligase complexes of the SCF type consist of ring-box 1 (Rbx1), cullin 1 (Cul1), S-phase kinase-associated protein 1 (Skp1), and a member of the F-box family of proteins. The identity of the F-box protein determines the substrate specificity of the complex. The F-box family member F-box– and WD repeat domain–containing 7 (Fbxw7; also known as Fbw7, SEL-10, hCdc4, and hAgo) targets for degradation proteins with wide-ranging functions, and uncovering its in vivo role has been difficult, because Fbxw7–/– embryos die in utero. Using two different Cre-loxP systems (Mx1-Cre and Alb-Cre), we generated mice with liver-specific null mutations of Fbxw7. Hepatic ablation of Fbxw7 resulted in hepatomegaly and steatohepatitis, with massive deposition of triglyceride, a phenotype similar to that observed in humans with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Both cell proliferation and the abundance of Fbxw7 substrates were increased in the Fbxw7-deficient liver. Long-term Fbxw7 deficiency resulted in marked proliferation of the biliary system and the development of hamartomas. Fbxw7 deficiency also skewed the differentiation of liver stem cells toward the cholangiocyte lineage rather than the hepatocyte lineage in vitro. This bias was corrected by additional loss of the Notch cofactor RBP-J, suggesting that Notch accumulation triggered the abnormal proliferation of the biliary system. Together, our results suggest that Fbxw7 plays key roles, regulating lipogenesis and cell proliferation and differentiation in the liver.
PMCID: PMC3007132  PMID: 21123947
5.  Conditional inactivation of Fbxw7 impairs cell-cycle exit during T cell differentiation and results in lymphomatogenesis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2007;204(12):2875-2888.
Cell proliferation is strictly controlled during differentiation. In T cell development, the cell cycle is normally arrested at the CD4+CD8+ stage, but the mechanism underlying such differentiation-specific exit from the cell cycle has been unclear. Fbxw7 (also known as Fbw7, Sel-10, hCdc4, or hAgo), an F-box protein subunit of an SCF-type ubiquitin ligase complex, induces the degradation of positive regulators of the cell cycle, such as c-Myc, c-Jun, cyclin E, and Notch. FBXW7 is often mutated in a subset of human cancers. We have now achieved conditional inactivation of Fbxw7 in the T cell lineage of mice and found that the cell cycle is not arrested at the CD4+CD8+ stage in the homozygous mutant animals. The mutant mice manifested thymic hyperplasia as a result of c-Myc accumulation and eventually developed thymic lymphoma. In contrast, mature T cells of the mutant mice failed to proliferate in response to mitogenic stimulation and underwent apoptosis in association with accumulation of c-Myc and p53. These latter abnormalities were corrected by deletion of p53. Our results suggest that Fbxw7 regulates the cell cycle in a differentiation-dependent manner, with its loss resulting in c-Myc accumulation that leads to hyperproliferation in immature T cells but to p53-dependent cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in mature T cells.
PMCID: PMC2118521  PMID: 17984302
6.  Fbw7 Targets GATA3 through Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2-Dependent Proteolysis and Contributes to Regulation of T-Cell Development 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2014;34(14):2732-2744.
Proper development of T cells depends on lineage-specific regulators controlled transcriptionally and posttranslationally to ensure precise levels at appropriate times. Conditional inactivation of F-box protein Fbw7 in mouse T-cell development resulted in reduced thymic CD4 single-positive (SP) and splenic CD4+ and CD8+ cell proportions. Fbw7 deficiency skewed CD8 SP lineage differentiation, which exhibited a higher incidence of apoptosis. Similar perturbations during development of CD8-positive cells were reported with transgenic mice, which enforced GATA3 (T-cell differentiation regulator) expression throughout T-cell development. We observed augmented GATA3 in CD4/CD8 double negative (DN) stage 4, CD4 SP, and CD8 SP lineages in Fbw7-deficient thymocytes. Using overexpressed proteins in cultured cells, we demonstrated that Fbw7 bound to, ubiquitylated, and destabilized GATA3. Two Cdc4 phosphodegron (CPD) candidate sequences, consensus Fbw7 recognition domains, were identified in GATA3, and phosphorylation of Thr-156 in CPD was required for Fbw7-mediated ubiquitylation and degradation. Phosphorylation of GATA3 Thr-156 was detected in mouse thymocytes, and cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) was identified as a respondent for phosphorylation at Thr-156. These observations suggest that Fbw7-mediated GATA3 regulation with CDK2-mediated phosphorylation of CPD contributes to the precise differentiation of T-cell lineages.
PMCID: PMC4097664  PMID: 24820417
7.  ZFP36L1 and ZFP36L2 control LDLR mRNA stability via the ERK–RSK pathway 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(15):10037-10049.
Low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) mRNA is unstable, but is stabilized upon extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation, possibly through the binding of certain proteins to the LDLR mRNA 3′-untranslated region (UTR), although the detailed mechanism underlying this stability control is unclear. Here, using a proteomic approach, we show that proteins ZFP36L1 and ZFP36L2 specifically bind to the 3′-UTR of LDLR mRNA and recruit the CCR4-NOT-deadenylase complex, resulting in mRNA destabilization. We also show that the C-terminal regions of ZFP36L1 and ZFP36L2 are directly phosphorylated by p90 ribosomal S6 kinase, a kinase downstream of ERK, resulting in dissociation of the CCR4-NOT-deadenylase complex and stabilization of LDLR mRNA. We further demonstrate that targeted disruption of the interaction between LDLR mRNA and ZFP36L1 and ZFP36L2 using antisense oligonucleotides results in upregulation of LDLR mRNA and protein. These results indicate that ZFP36L1 and ZFP36L2 regulate LDLR protein levels downstream of ERK. Our results also show the usefulness of our method for identifying critical regulators of specific RNAs and the potency of antisense oligonucleotide-based therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC4150769  PMID: 25106868
8.  Deciphering the transcription complex critical for RhoA gene expression and cancer metastasis 
Nature cell biology  2010;12(5):10.1038/ncb2047.
RhoA GTPase plays a crucial role in numerous biological functions and is linked to cancer metastasis. However, the understanding of the molecular mechanism responsible for RhoA transcription is still very limited. Here we show that RhoA transcription is orchestrated by the Myc/Skp2/Miz1/p300 transcription complex. Skp2 cooperates with Myc to induce RhoA transcription by recruiting Miz1 and p300 to the RhoA promoter independently of SCF-Skp2 E3 ligase activity. Deficiency of this complex results in impairment in RhoA expression, cell migration, invasion, and breast cancer metastasis, recapitulating the phenotypes observed in RhoA knockdown, and RhoA restoration rescues the defect in cell invasion. Strikingly, the overexpression of Myc/Skp2/Miz1 complex is found in metastatic human cancers and correlated with RhoA expression. Our study provides great insight into how oncogenic Skp2 and Myc coordinate to induce RhoA transcription and establishes a novel SCF-Skp2 E3 ligase-independent function for oncogenic Skp2 in transcription and cancer metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3855841  PMID: 20383141
9.  PKCδ Deficiency Perturbs Bone Homeostasis by Selective Uncoupling of Cathepsin K Secretion and Ruffled Border Formation in Osteoclasts 
Bone homeostasis requires stringent regulation of osteoclasts, which secrete proteolytic enzymes to degrade the bone matrix. Despite recent progress in understanding how bone resorption occurs, the mechanisms regulating osteoclast secretion, and in particular the trafficking route of cathepsin K vesicles, remain elusive. Using a genetic approach, we describe the requirement for PKCδ in regulating bone resorption by affecting cathepsin K exocytosis. Importantly, PKCδ deficiency does not perturb formation of the ruffled border or trafficking of lysosomal vesicles containing the v-ATPase. Mechanistically, we find that cathepsin K exocytosis is controlled by PKCδ through modulation of the actin bundling protein MARCKS. The relevance of our finding is emphasized in vivo as PKCδ−/− mice exhibit increased bone mass and are protected from pathological bone loss in a model of experimental post-menopausal osteoporosis. Collectively, our data provide novel mechanistic insights into the pathways that selectively promote secretion of cathepsin K lysosomes independently of ruffled border formation, providing evidence for the presence of multiple mechanisms that regulate lysosomal exocytosis in osteoclasts.
PMCID: PMC3498518  PMID: 22806935
10.  Regulation of c-Myc ubiquitination controls chronic myelogenous leukemia initiation and progression 
Cancer cell  2013;23(3):362-375.
The molecular mechanisms regulating leukemia-initiating cell (LIC) function are of important clinical significance. We use chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), as a model of LIC-dependent malignancy and identify the interaction between the ubiquitin ligase Fbw7 and its substrate c-Myc as a regulator of LIC homeostasis. Deletion of Fbw7 leads to c-Myc overexpression, p53-dependent LIC-specific apoptosis and the eventual inhibition of tumor progression. Decrease of either c-Myc protein levels or attenuation of the p53 response rescues LIC activity and disease progression. Further experiments showed that Fbw7 expression is required for survival and maintenance of human CML LIC. These studies identify a ubiquitin ligase:substrate pair regulating LIC activity, suggesting that targeting of the Fbw7:c-Myc axis is an attractive therapy target in refractory CML.
PMCID: PMC3609428  PMID: 23518350
11.  Loss of Protein Kinase C-δ Protects against LPS-Induced Osteolysis Owing to an Intrinsic Defect in Osteoclastic Bone Resorption 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70815.
Bone remodeling is intrinsically regulated by cell signaling molecules. The Protein Kinase C (PKC) family of serine/threonine kinases is involved in multiple signaling pathways including cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and osteoclast biology. However, the precise involvement of individual PKC isoforms in the regulation of osteoclast formation and bone homeostasis remains unclear. Here, we identify PKC-δ as the major PKC isoform expressed among all PKCs in osteoclasts; including classical PKCs (−α, −β and −γ), novel PKCs (−δ, −ε, −η and −θ) and atypical PKCs (−ι/λ and −ζ). Interestingly, pharmacological inhibition and genetic ablation of PKC-δ impairs osteoclastic bone resorption in vitro. Moreover, disruption of PKC-δ activity protects against LPS-induced osteolysis in mice, with osteoclasts accumulating on the bone surface failing to resorb bone. Treatment with the PKC-δ inhibitor Rottlerin, blocks LPS-induced bone resorption in mice. Consistently, PKC-δ deficient mice exhibit increased trabeculae bone containing residual cartilage matrix, indicative of an osteoclast-rich osteopetrosis phenotype. Cultured ex vivo osteoclasts derived from PKC-δ null mice exhibit decreased CTX-1 levels and MARKS phosphorylation, with enhanced formation rates. This is accompanied by elevated gene expression levels of cathepsin K and PKC −α, −γ and −ε, as well as altered signaling of pERK and pcSrc416/527 upon RANKL-induction, possibly to compensate for the defects in bone resorption. Collectively, our data indicate that PKC-δ is an intrinsic regulator of osteoclast formation and bone resorption and thus is a potential therapeutic target for pathological osteolysis.
PMCID: PMC3738588  PMID: 23951014
12.  The Skp2-SCF E3 ligase regulates Akt ubiquitination, glycolysis, Herceptin sensitivity and tumorigenesis 
Cell  2012;149(5):1098-1111.
Akt kinase plays a central role in cell growth, metabolism and tumorigenesis. Although TRAF6 E3 ligase orchestrates IGF-1-mediated Akt ubiquitination and activation, it is unclear whether TRAF6 is involved in Akt activation by other growth factor receptors as well. Here we show that Akt ubiquitination is also induced by activation of ErbB receptors; unexpectedly, Skp2 SCF complex, but not TRAF6, is a critical E3 ligase for ErbB receptor-mediated Akt ubiquitination and membrane recruitment. Interestingly, Skp2 deficiency impairs Akt activation, Glut1 expression, glucose uptake and glycolysis, and breast cancer progression in various tumor models. Moreover, Skp2 overexpression correlates with Akt activation, breast cancer metastasis, and serves as a marker for poor prognosis in Her2-positive patients. Finally, we showed that Skp2 silencing sensitizes Her2-overexpressing tumors to Herceptin treatment. Our study suggests that distinct E3 ligases are utilized by diverse growth factors for Akt ubiquitination and activation.
PMCID: PMC3586339  PMID: 22632973
13.  Fbw7 and p53 Cooperatively Suppress Advanced and Chromosomally Unstable Intestinal Cancer 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(11):2160-2167.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains a major cause of cancer mortality worldwide. Murine models have yielded critical insights into CRC pathogenesis, but they often fail to recapitulate advanced-disease phenotypes, notably metastasis and chromosomal instability (CIN). New models are thus needed to understand disease progression and to develop therapies. We sought to model advanced CRC by inactivating two tumor suppressors that are mutated in human CRCs, the Fbw7 ubiquitin ligase and p53. Here we report that Fbw7 deletion alters differentiation and proliferation in the gut epithelium and stabilizes oncogenic Fbw7 substrates, such as cyclin E and Myc. However, Fbw7 deletion does not cause tumorigenesis in the gut. In contrast, codeletion of both Fbw7 and p53 causes highly penetrant, aggressive, and metastatic adenocarcinomas, and allografts derived from these tumors form highly malignant adenocarcinomas. In vitro evidence indicates that Fbw7 ablation promotes genetic instability that is suppressed by p53, and we show that most Fbw7−/−; p53−/− carcinomas exhibit a CIN+ phenotype. We conclude that Fbw7 and p53 synergistically suppress adenocarcinomas that mimic advanced human CRC with respect to histopathology, metastasis, and CIN. This model thus represents a novel tool for studies of advanced CRC as well as carcinogenesis associated with ubiquitin pathway mutations.
PMCID: PMC3372235  PMID: 22473991
14.  SCFFbw7 Modulates the NFκB Signaling Pathway by Targeting NFκB2 for Ubiquitination and Destruction 
Cell reports  2012;1(5):434-443.
The NFκB/Rel family of proteins play critical roles in a variety of cellular processes. Thus, their physiological activation is tightly controlled. Recently, the NFκB2/p100 precursor has been characterized as the fourth IκB type of suppressor for NFκB. However, the molecular mechanism(s) underlying regulated destruction of NFκB2 remains largely unknown. Here, we report that, unlike other IκBs, ubiquitination and destruction of NFκB2 are governed by SCFFbw7 in a GSK3-dependent manner. In Fbw7−/− cells, elevated expression of NFκB2/p100 leads to a subsequent reduction in NFκB signaling pathways and elevated sensitivity to TNFα-induced cell death. Reintroducing wild-type Fbw7, but not disease-derived mutant forms of Fbw7, rescues NFκBactivity. Furthermore, T cell-specific depletion of Fbw7 also leads to reduced NFκB activity and perturbed T cell differentiation. Therefore, our work identifies Fbw7 as a physiological E3 ligase controlling NFκB2′s stability. It further implicates that Fbw7 might exert its tumor-suppressor function by regulating NFκB activity.
PMCID: PMC3375724  PMID: 22708077
15.  The Amelioration of Renal Damage in Skp2-Deficient Mice Canceled by p27 Kip1 Deficiency in Skp2−/− p27−/− Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36249.
SCF-Skp2 E3 ubiquitin ligase (Skp2 hereafter) targets several cell cycle regulatory proteins for degradation via the ubiquitin-dependent pathway. However, the target-specific physiological functions of Skp2 have not been fully elucidated in kidney diseases. We previously reported an increase in Skp2 in progressive nephropathy and amelioration of unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) renal injury associated with renal accumulation of p27 in Skp2−/− mice. However, it remains unclear whether the amelioration of renal injury in Skp2−/− mice is solely caused by p27 accumulation, since Skp2 targets several other proteins. Using Skp2−/−p27−/− mice, we investigated whether Skp2 specifically targets p27 in the progressive nephropathy mediated by UUO. In contrast to the marked suppression of UUO renal injury in Skp2−/− mice, progression of tubular dilatation associated with tubular epithelial cell proliferation and tubulointerstitial fibrosis with increased expression of collagen and α-smooth muscle actin were observed in the obstructed kidneys in Skp2−/−p27−/− mice. No significant increases in other Skp2 target proteins including p57, p130, TOB1, cyclin A and cyclin D1 were noted in the UUO kidney in Skp2−/− mice, while p21, c-Myc, b-Myb and cyclin E were slightly increased. Contrary to the ameliorated UUO renal injure by Skp2-deficiency, the amelioration was canceled by the additional p27-deficiency in Skp2−/−p27−/− mice. These findings suggest a pathogenic role of the reduction in p27 targeted by Skp2 in the progression of nephropathy in UUO mice.
PMCID: PMC3338689  PMID: 22558406
16.  Deregulation of the p57-E2F1-p53 Axis Results in Nonobstructive Hydrocephalus and Cerebellar Malformation in Mice ▿ 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2011;31(20):4176-4192.
The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor (CKI) p57Kip2 plays a pivotal role in cell cycle arrest during development, in particular, in the regulation of the entry of proliferating progenitors into quiescence. The gene encoding p57 undergoes genomic imprinting, and impairment of the regulation of p57 expression results in various developmental anomalies in humans and mice. We now show that p57 is expressed predominantly in the subcommissural organ and cerebellar interneurons in the mouse brain and that mice with brain-specific deletion of the p57 gene (Kip2) manifest prominent nonobstructive hydrocephalus as well as cerebellar malformation associated with the loss of Pax2-positive interneuron precursors and their descendants, including Golgi cells and γ-aminobutyric acid-containing neurons of the deep cerebellar nuclei. These abnormalities were found to be attributable to massive apoptosis of precursor cells in the developing brain. The morphological defects of the p57-deficient mice were corrected by knock-in of the gene for the related CKI p27Kip1 at the Kip2 locus. The abnormalities were also prevented by additional genetic ablation of p53 or E2F1. Our results thus implicate p57 in cell cycle arrest in the subcommissural organ and Pax2-positive interneuron precursors, with the lack of p57 resulting in induction of p53-dependent apoptosis due to hyperactivation of E2F1.
PMCID: PMC3187288  PMID: 21844226
17.  SCFFbw7 Regulates Cellular Apoptosis By Targeting Mcl-1 for Ubiquitination and Destruction 
Nature  2011;471(7336):104-109.
The effective use of targeted therapy is highly dependent upon the identification of responder patient populations. Loss of the Fbw7 tumor suppressor is frequently found in various types of human cancers including breast cancer, colon cancer 1 and T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL)2. In line with these genomic data, engineered deletion of Fbw7 in mouse T cells results in T-ALL3–5, validating Fbw7 as a T-ALL tumor suppressor. The precise molecular mechanisms by which Fbw7 exerts anti-tumor activity remain areas of intensive investigation and are thought to relate in part to Fbw7-mediated destruction of key cancer relevant proteins including c-Jun6, c-Myc 7, Cyclin E 8 and Notch-19, all of which possess oncogenic activity and are overexpressed in various human cancers including leukemia. Besides accelerating cell growth 10, overexpression of either c-Jun, c-Myc or Notch-1 can also provoke programmed cell death 11. Thus, considerable uncertainty surrounds how Fbw7-deficient cells evade cell death in the setting of upregulated c-Jun, c-Myc and/or Notch-1. Here we report that SCFFbw7 governs cellular apoptosis by targeting the pro-survival Bcl-2 family member, Mcl-1, for ubiquitination and destruction in a GSK3 phosphorylation-dependent manner. Human T-ALL cell lines showed a close relationship between Fbw7 loss and Mcl-1 overexpression. Correspondingly, T-ALL cell lines with defective Fbw7 are particularly sensitive to the multi-kinase inhibitor, sorafenib, but resistant to the Bcl-2 antagonist, ABT-737. On the genetic level, Fbw7 reconstitution or Mcl-1 depletion restores ABT-737 sensitivity, establishing Mcl-1 as a therapeutically relevant bypass survival mechanism for Fbw7-deficient cells to evade apoptosis. Therefore, our work provides novel molecular insight into Fbw7-direct tumor suppression with direct implications for the targeted treatment of Fbw7-deficient T-ALL patients.
PMCID: PMC3076007  PMID: 21368833
18.  Molecular Basis for the Association of Human E4B U box Ubiquitin Ligase with E2 Conjugating Enzymes UbcH5c and Ubc4 
Human E4B, also called UFD2a, is a U-box-containing protein that functions as an E3 ubiquitin ligase and an E4 polyubiquitin chain elongation factor. E4B is thought to participate in the proteasomal degradation of misfolded or damaged proteins through association with chaperones. The U-box domain is an anchor site for E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes but little is known of the binding mechanism. Using X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy, we determined the structures of E4B U-box free and bound to UbcH5c and Ubc4 E2s. While previously characterized U-box domains are homodimeric, we show that E4B U-box is a monomer stabilized by a network of hydrogen bonds identified from scalar coupling measurements. These structural studies, complemented by calorimetry- and NMR-based binding assays, suggest an allosteric regulation of UbcH5c and Ubc4 by E4B U-Box and provide a molecular basis to understand how the ubiquitylation machinery involving E4B assembles.
PMCID: PMC3005147  PMID: 20696396
19.  Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 2 Knockout Accentuates Ethanol-Induced Cardiac Depression: Role of Protein Phosphatases 
Alcohol consumption leads to myocardial contractile dysfunction possibly due to the toxicity of ethanol and its major metabolite acetaldehyde. This study was designed to examine the influence of mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2) knockout (KO) on acute ethanol exposure-induced cardiomyocyte dysfunction. Wild-type (WT) and ALDH2 KO mice were subjected to acute ethanol (3 g/kg, i.p.) challenge and cardiomyocyte contractile function was assessed 24 hrs later using an IonOptix® edge-detection system. Western blot analysis was performed to evaluate ALDH2, protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), phosphorylation of Akt and glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β). ALDH2 KO accentuated ethanol-induced elevation in cardiac acetaldehyde levels. Ethanol exposure depressed cardiomyocyte contractile function including decreased cell shortening amplitude and maximal velocity of shortening/relengthening as well as prolonged relengthening duration and a greater decline in peak shortening in response to increasing stimulus frequency, the effect of which was significantly exaggerated by ALDH2 KO. ALDH2 KO also unmasked an ethanol-induced prolongation of shortening duration. In addition, short-term in vitro incubation of ethanol-induced cardiomyocyte mechanical defects were exacerbated by the ALDH inhibitor cyanamide. Ethanol treatment dampened phosphorylation of Akt and GSK-3β associated with up-regulated PP2A, which was accentuated by ALDH2 KO. ALDH2 KO aggravated ethanol-induced decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential. These results suggested that ALDH2 deficiency led to worsened ethanol-induced cardiomyocyte function, possibly due to upregulated expression of protein phosphatase, depressed Akt activation and subsequently impaired mitochondrial function. These findings depict a critical role of ALDH2 in the pathogenesis of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
PMCID: PMC2885537  PMID: 20362583
Ethanol; ALDH2; Cardiomyocyte; Contractile function; Akt; Protein phosphatase
20.  CHD8 suppresses p53-mediated apoptosis through histone H1 recruitment during early embryogenesis 
Nature cell biology  2009;11(2):172-182.
The chromodomain helicase DNA-binding (CHD) family of enzymes is thought to regulate gene expression, but their role in the regulation of specific genes has been unclear. Here we show that CHD8 is expressed at a high level during early embryogenesis and prevents apoptosis mediated by the tumour suppressor protein p53. CHD8 was found to bind to p53 and to suppress its transactivation activity. CHD8 promoted the association of p53 and histone H1, forming a trimeric complex on chromatin that was required for inhibition of p53-dependent transactivation and apoptosis. Depletion of CHD8 or histone H1 resulted in p53 activation and apoptosis. Furthermore, Chd8−/− mice died early during embryogenesis, manifesting widespread apoptosis, whereas deletion of p53 ameliorated this developmental arrest. These observations reveal a mode of p53 regulation mediated by CHD8, which may set a threshold for induction of apoptosis during early embryogenesis by counteracting p53 function through recruitment of histone H1.
PMCID: PMC3132516  PMID: 19151705
21.  Skp2 directs Myc-mediated suppression of p27Kip1 yet has modest effects on Myc-driven lymphomagenesis 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2010;8(3):353-362.
The universal cyclin-Cdk inhibitor p27Kip1 functions as a tumor suppressor and reduced levels of p27Kip1 connote poor prognosis in several human malignancies. p27Kip1 levels are predominately regulated by ubiquitin-mediated turnover of the protein, which is marked for destruction by the E3 ubiquitin ligase SCFSkp2 complex following its phosphorylation by the cyclin E-Cdk2 complex. Binding of phospho-p27Kip1 is directed by the Skp2 F-box protein, and this is greatly augmented by its allosteric regulator Cks1. We have established that programmed expression of c-Myc in the B cells of Eμ-Myc transgenic mice triggers p27Kip1 destruction by inducing Cks1, that this response controls Myc-driven proliferation, and that loss of Cks1 markedly delays Myc-induced lymphomagenesis and cancels the dissemination of these tumors. Here, we report that elevated levels of Skp2 are a characteristic of Eμ-Myc lymphomas and of human Burkitt lymphoma that bear MYC/immunoglobulin chromosomal translocations. As expected, Myc-mediated suppression of p27Kip1 was abolished in Skp2-null Eμ-Myc B cells. However, the impact of Skp2 loss on Myc-driven proliferation and lymphomagenesis was surprisingly modest compared to the effects of Cks1 loss. Collectively these findings suggest that Cks1 targets in addition to p27Kip1 are critical for Myc-driven proliferation and tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3095030  PMID: 20197382
Myc; Skp2; p27Kip1; lymphomagenesis
22.  CDK inhibitors selectively diminish cell cycle controlled activation of the histone H4 gene promoter by p220NPAT and HiNF-P 
Journal of cellular physiology  2009;219(2):438-448.
Cell cycle progression into S phase requires the induction of histone gene expression to package newly synthesized DNA as chromatin. Cyclin E stimulation of CDK2 at the Restriction point late in G1 controls both histone gene expression by the p220NPAT/HiNF-P pathway and initiation of DNA replication through the pRB/E2F pathway. The three CDK inhibitors (CKIs) p21CIP1/WAF1, p27KIP1 and p57KIP2 attenuate CDK2 activity. Here we find that γ-irradiation induces p21CIP1/WAF1 but not the other two CKIs, while reducing histone H4 mRNA levels but not histone H4 gene promoter activation by the p220NPAT/HiNF-P complex. We also show that p21CIP1/WAF1 is less effective than p27KIP1 and p57KIP2 in inhibiting the CDK2 dependent phosphorylation of p220NPAT at subnuclear foci and transcriptional activation of histone H4 genes. The greater effectiveness of p57KIP2 in blocking the p220NPAT/HiNF-P pathway is attributable in part to its ability to form a specific complex with p220NPAT that may suppress CDK2/cyclin E phosphorylation through direct substrate inhibition. We conclude that CKIs selectively control stimulation of the histone H4 gene promoter by the p220NPAT/HiNF-P complex.
PMCID: PMC2981436  PMID: 19170105
cell cycle; histone genes; transcription; chromatin; prliferation
23.  Skp2 targeting suppresses tumorigenesis by Arf-p53-independent cellular senescence 
Nature  2010;464(7287):374-379.
Cellular senescence has been recently shown to play an important role in opposing tumour initiation and promotion. Senescence induced by oncogenes or loss of tumour suppressor genes is thought to critically dependent on the induction of the p19Arf-p53 pathway. The Skp2 E3-ubiquitin ligase can act as a proto-oncogene and its aberrant overexpression is frequently observed in human cancers. Here we show that although Skp2 inactivation on its own does not induce cellular senescence, aberrant proto-oncogenic signals as well as inactivation of tumour suppressor genes do trigger a potent, tumor-suppressive senescence response in mice and cells devoid of Skp2. Notably, Skp2 inactivation and oncogenic stress driven senescence neither elicits activation of the p19Arf-p53 pathway nor DNA damage, but instead depends on ATF4, p27, and p21. We further demonstrate that genetic Skp2 inactivation evokes cellular senescence even in oncogenic conditions in which the p19Arf/p53 response is impaired, whereas a Skp2-SCF complex inhibitor can trigger cellular senescence in p53/PTEN deficient cells and tumour regression in preclinical studies. Our findings therefore provide proof of principle evidence that Skp2 pharmacological inhibition may represent a general approach for cancer prevention and therapy.
PMCID: PMC2928066  PMID: 20237562
24.  p27 modulates tropism of mesenchymal stem cells toward brain tumors 
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have inherent tumor-tropic properties in the brain and seem to be a useful tool for cellular therapy for brain tumors. However, the mechanisms involved in MSC migration are not fully understood. The tumor suppressor p27, an inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase complexes, not only plays a crucial role in cell cycle regulation but also has cell cycle-independent functions, such as differentiation and migration of cells. In fact, p27 has been alternatively reported to inhibit or stimulate cell migration in cells of different types. Therefore, in the present study, we investigated whether p27 is involved in the tumor-tropic activity of MSCs using MSCs from p27-null mice. It was found that p27−/− MSCs showed a decreased motility in the wound healing assay and displayed increased numbers of stress fibers. To compare the in vivo migratory activity of p27−/− and p27+/+ MSCs toward glioma, we injected C6 glioma cells into one side of the mouse brain and BrdU-labeled p27−/− or p27+/+ MSCs into the other side. Significantly fewer labeled p27−/− MSCs were observed in the tumor area compared with p27+/+ MSCs. The present study suggests that p27 works as a stimulator of the in vitro and in vivo migration process of MSCs toward tumors. These findings are important when the efficacy of stem cell-based strategies for glioma therapy is considered.
PMCID: PMC4042492  PMID: 24926323
mesenchymal stem cell; brain tumor; migration; p27
25.  An animal model manifesting neurodegeneration and obesity 
Aging (Albany NY)  2010;2(7):453-456.
Although the existence of a link between neurodegenerative diseases and obesity has been suggested, a causal relation between neural degeneration and obesity has remained to be demonstrated experimentally. We recently showed that neurodegeneration in the hypothalamic satiety center results in obesity in mice transgenic for E4B (also known as UFD2a), a mammalian ubiquitin elongation factor (E4). Increased expression of E4B in neurons of the transgenic mice results in the formation of ubiquitin-positive aggregates similar to those apparent in many human neurodegenerative diseases as well as in degeneration of hypothalamic neurons responsible for the regulation of food intake and energy expenditure. We thus propose that neurodegeneration is a possible cause of human obesity and related metabolic diseases, which have become a serious public health problem worldwide. Our animal model is thus a powerful tool for studies of the relation between neurodegeneration and obesity.
PMCID: PMC2933892  PMID: 20622266
Ubiquitin; mouse model; neurodegeneration; obesity

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