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1.  The ER membrane-anchored ubiquitin ligase Hrd1 is a positive regulator of T-cell immunity 
Nature Communications  2016;7:12073.
Identification of positive regulators of T-cell immunity induced during autoimmune diseases is critical for developing novel therapies. The endoplasmic reticulum resident ubiquitin ligase Hrd1 has recently emerged as a critical regulator of dendritic cell antigen presentation, but its role in T-cell immunity is unknown. Here we show that genetic deletion of Hrd1 in mice inhibits T-cell proliferation, production of IL-2, and differentiation of Th1 and Th17 cells, and consequently protects mice from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Hrd1 facilitates T-cell proliferation by the destruction of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27kip1, and deletion of p27kip1 in Hrd1-null T-cells rescues proliferative capacity but not the production of cytokines, including IL-2, IFN-γ and IL-17. T-cell expression of Hrd1 is higher in patients with multiple sclerosis than in healthy individuals, and knockdown of Hrd1 in human CD4+ T cells inhibits activation and differentiation to Th1 and Th17 cells. Our study identifies Hrd1 as a previously unappreciated positive regulator of T cells and implies that Hrd1 is a potential therapeutic target for autoimmune diseases.
Hrd1 is an E3 ubiquitin ligase involved in ER-associated degradation and MHC I turnover. Here the authors use T-cell-specific ko mice and a mouse model of multiple sclerosis to show that Hrd1 also drives pro-inflammatory T helper cell responses and contributes to pathogenesis of autoimmune disease.
doi:10.1038/ncomms12073
PMCID: PMC4947160  PMID: 27417417
2.  IRE1α is an endogenous substrate of endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation 
Nature cell biology  2015;17(12):1546-1555.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated degradation (ERAD) represents a principle quality control mechanism to clear misfolded proteins in the ER; however its physiological significance and the nature of endogenous ERAD substrates remain largely unexplored. Here we discover that IRE1α, the sensor of unfolded protein response (UPR), is a bona fide substrate of the Sel1L-Hrd1 ERAD complex. ERAD-mediated IRE1α degradation occurs under basal conditions in a BiP-dependent manner, requires both intramembrane hydrophilic residues of IRE1α and lectin protein OS9, and is attenuated by ER stress. ERAD deficiency causes IRE1α protein stabilization, accumulation and mild activation both in vitro and in vivo. Although enterocyte-specific Sel1L-knockout mice (Sel1LΔIEC) are viable and appear normal, they are highly susceptible to experimental colitis and inflammation-associated dysbiosis, in an IRE1α-dependent but CHOP-independent manner. Hence, Sel1L-Hrd1 ERAD serves a distinct, essential function in restraint of IRE1α signaling in vivo by managing its protein turnover.
doi:10.1038/ncb3266
PMCID: PMC4670240  PMID: 26551274
ER; Sel1L; Hrd1; ERAD; UPR; intestinal epithelium; inflammation; colitis
3.  Ubiquitin-specific protease 22 is a deubiquitinase of CCNB1 
Cell discovery  2015;1:15028.
The elevated level of CCNB1 indicates more aggressive cancer and poor prognosis. However, the factors that cause CCNB1 upregulation remain enigmatic. Herein, we identify USP22 as a CCNB1 interactor and discover that both USP22 and CCNB1 are dramatically elevated with a strong positive correlation in colon cancer tissues. USP22 stabilizes CCNB1 by antagonizing proteasome-mediated degradation in a cell cycle-specific manner. Phosphorylation of USP22 by CDK1 enhances its activity in deubiquitinating CCNB1. The ubiquitin ligase anaphase-promoting complex (APC/C) targets USP22 for degradation by using the substrate adapter CDC20 during cell exit from M phase, presumably allowing CCNB1 degradation. Finally, we discover that USP22 knockdown leads to slower cell growth and reduced tumor size. Our study demonstrates that USP22 is a CCNB1 deubiquitinase, suggesting that targeting USP22 might be an effective approach to treat cancers with elevated CCNB1 expression.
doi:10.1038/celldisc.2015.28
PMCID: PMC4809424  PMID: 27030811
USP22; CCNB1; APC8; cell cycle; tumorigenesis
4.  Ubiquitin-specific protease 22 is a deubiquitinase of CCNB1 
Cell Discovery  2015;1:15028-.
The elevated level of CCNB1 indicates more aggressive cancer and poor prognosis. However, the factors that cause CCNB1 upregulation remain enigmatic. Herein, we identify USP22 as a CCNB1 interactor and discover that both USP22 and CCNB1 are dramatically elevated with a strong positive correlation in colon cancer tissues. USP22 stabilizes CCNB1 by antagonizing proteasome-mediated degradation in a cell cycle-specific manner. Phosphorylation of USP22 by CDK1 enhances its activity in deubiquitinating CCNB1. The ubiquitin ligase anaphase-promoting complex (APC/C) targets USP22 for degradation by using the substrate adapter CDC20 during cell exit from M phase, presumably allowing CCNB1 degradation. Finally, we discover that USP22 knockdown leads to slower cell growth and reduced tumor size. Our study demonstrates that USP22 is a CCNB1 deubiquitinase, suggesting that targeting USP22 might be an effective approach to treat cancers with elevated CCNB1 expression.
doi:10.1038/celldisc.2015.28
PMCID: PMC4809424  PMID: 27030811
USP22; CCNB1; APC8; cell cycle; tumorigenesis
5.  Hrd1-mediated BLIMP-1 ubiquitination promotes dendritic cell MHCII expression for CD4 T cell priming during inflammation 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2014;211(12):2467-2479.
Yang et al. demonstrate that Hrd1 plays an important role in DC induction of CD4 T cell immunity. The underlying mechanism involves the ability of Hrd1 to ubiquitinate and degrade BLIMP-1, thus releasing CIITA from transcriptional repression and promoting MHCII expression. As a consequence, Hrd1−/− DCs protect mice from MOG-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.
The ubiquitin pathway plays critical roles in antigen presentation. However, the ubiquitin ligases that regulate MHC gene transcription remain unidentified. We showed that the ubiquitin ligase Hrd1, expression of which is induced by Toll-like receptor (TLR) stimulation, is required for MHC-II but not MHC-I transcription in dendritic cells (DCs). Targeted Hrd1 gene deletion in DCs diminished MHC-II expression. As a consequence, Hrd1-null DCs failed to prime CD4+ T cells without affecting the activation of CD8+ T cells. Hrd1 catalyzed ubiquitination and degradation of the transcriptional suppressor B lymphocyte–induced maturation protein 1 (BLIMP1) to promote MHC-II expression. Genetic suppression of Hrd1 function in DCs protected mice from myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)–induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). We identified Hrd1-mediated BLIMP1 ubiquitination as a previously unknown mechanism in programming DC for CD4+ T cell activation during inflammation.
doi:10.1084/jem.20140283
PMCID: PMC4235642  PMID: 25366967
6.  Icariin Induces Synoviolin Expression through NFE2L1 to Protect Neurons from ER Stress-Induced Apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0119955.
By suppressing neuronal apoptosis, Icariin is a potential therapeutic drug for neuronal degenerative diseases. The molecular mechanisms of Icariin anti-apoptotic functions are still largely unclear. In this report, we found that Icariin induces the expression of Synoviolin, an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-anchoring E3 ubiquitin ligase that functions as a suppressor of ER stress-induced apoptosis. The nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 1 (NFE2L1) is responsible for Icariin-mediated Synoviolin gene expression. Mutation of the NFE2L1-binding sites in a distal region of the Synoviolin promoter abolished Icariin-induced Synoviolin promoter activity, and knockdown of NFE2L1 expression prevented Icariin-stimulated Synoviolin expression. More importantly, Icariin protected ER stress-induced apoptosis of PC12 cells in a Synoviolin-dependent manner. Therefore, our study reveals Icariin-induced Synoviolin expression through NFE2L1 as a previously unappreciated molecular mechanism underlying the neuronal protective function of Icariin.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0119955
PMCID: PMC4373914  PMID: 25806530
7.  USP10 Antagonizes c-Myc Transcriptional Activation through SIRT6 Stabilization to Suppress Tumor Formation 
Cell reports  2013;5(6):1639-1649.
The reduced protein expression of SIRT6 tumor suppressor is involved in tumorigenesis. The molecular mechanisms underlying SIRT6 protein downregulation in human cancers remain unknown. Using a proteomic approach, we have identified the ubiquitin-specific peptidase USP10, another tumor suppressor, as one of the SIRT6-interacting proteins. USP10 suppresses SIRT6 ubiquitination to protect SIRT6 from proteasomal degradation. USP10 antagonizes the transcriptional activity of the c-Myc oncogene through SIRT6, as well as p53, to inhibit cell cycle progression, cancer cell growth, and tumor formation. To support this conclusion, we detected significant reductions in both USP10 and SIRT6 protein expression in human colon cancers. Our study discovered crosstalk between two tumor-suppressive genes in regulating cell cycle progression and proliferation and showed that dysregulated USP10 function promotes tumorigenesis through SIRT6 degradation.
doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2013.11.029
PMCID: PMC4007576  PMID: 24332849
8.  c-Abl-Mediated Tyrosine Phosphorylation of the T-bet DNA-Binding Domain Regulates CD4+ T-Cell Differentiation and Allergic Lung Inflammation ▿ 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2011;31(16):3445-3456.
The tyrosine kinase c-Abl is required for full activation of T cells, while its role in T-cell differentiation has not been characterized. We report that c-Abl deficiency skews CD4+ T cells to type 2 helper T cell (Th2) differentiation, and c-Abl−/− mice are more susceptible to allergic lung inflammation. c-Abl interacts with and phosphorylates T-bet, a Th1 lineage transcription factor. c-Abl-mediated phosphorylation enhances the transcriptional activation of T-bet. Interestingly, three tyrosine residues within the T-bet DNA-binding domain are the predominant sites of phosphorylation by c-Abl. Mutation of these tyrosine residues inhibits the promoter DNA-binding activity of T-bet. c-Abl regulates Th cell differentiation in a T-bet-dependent manner because genetic deletion of T-bet in CD4+ T cells abolishes c-Abl-deficiency-mediated enhancement of Th2 differentiation. Reintroduction of T-bet-null CD4+ T cells with wild-type T-bet, but not its tyrosine mutant, rescues gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production and inhibits Th2 cytokine production. Therefore, c-Abl catalyzes tyrosine phosphorylation of the DNA-binding domain of T-bet to regulate CD4+ T cell differentiation.
doi:10.1128/MCB.05383-11
PMCID: PMC3147793  PMID: 21690296
9.  The HECT-Type E3 Ubiquitin Ligase AIP2 Inhibits Activation-Induced T-Cell Death by Catalyzing EGR2 Ubiquitination▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;29(19):5348-5356.
E3 ubiquitin ligases, which target specific molecules for proteolytic destruction, have emerged as key regulators of immune functions. Several E3 ubiquitin ligases, including c-Cbl, Cbl-b, GRAIL, Itch, and Nedd4, have been shown to negatively regulate T-cell activation. Here, we report that the HECT-type E3 ligase AIP2 positively regulates T-cell activation. Ectopic expression of AIP2 in mouse primary T cells enhances their proliferation and interleukin-2 production by suppressing the apoptosis of T cells. AIP2 interacts with and promotes ubiquitin-mediated degradation of EGR2, a zinc finger transcription factor that has been found to regulate Fas ligand (FasL) expression during activation-induced T-cell death. Suppression of AIP2 expression by small RNA interference upregulates EGR2, inhibits EGR2 ubiquitination and FasL expression, and enhances the apoptosis of T cells. Therefore, AIP2 regulates activation-induced T-cell death by suppressing EGR2-mediated FasL expression via the ubiquitin pathway.
doi:10.1128/MCB.00407-09
PMCID: PMC2747983  PMID: 19651900
10.  The type III histone deacetylase Sirt1 is essential for maintenance of T cell tolerance in mice 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2009;119(10):3048-3058.
Although many self-reactive T cells are eliminated by negative selection in the thymus, some of these cells escape into the periphery, where they must be controlled by additional mechanisms. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying peripheral T cell tolerance and its maintenance remain largely undefined. In this study, we report that sirtuin 1 (Sirt1), a type III histone deacetylase, negatively regulates T cell activation and plays a major role in clonal T cell anergy in mice. In vivo, we found that loss of Sirt1 function resulted in abnormally increased T cell activation and a breakdown of CD4+ T cell tolerance. Conversely, upregulation of Sirt1 expression led to T cell anergy, in which the activity of the transcription factor AP-1 was substantially diminished. Furthermore, Sirt1 interacted with and deacetylated c-Jun, yielding an inactive AP-1 factor. In addition, Sirt1-deficient mice were unable to maintain T cell tolerance and developed severe experimental allergic encephalomyelitis as well as spontaneous autoimmunity. These findings provide insight into the molecular mechanisms of T cell activation and anergy, and we suggest that activators of Sirt1 may be useful as therapeutic agents for the treatment and/or prevention of autoimmune diseases.
doi:10.1172/JCI38902
PMCID: PMC2752073  PMID: 19729833
11.  The proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and TNF-α induce the expression of Synoviolin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, in mouse synovial fibroblasts via the Erk1/2-ETS1 pathway 
The overgrowth of synovial tissues is critical in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The expression of Synoviolin (SYN), an E3 ubiquitin ligase, is upregulated in arthritic synovial fibroblasts and is involved in the overgrowth of synovial cells during RA. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in the elevated SYN expression are not known. Here, we found that SYN expression is elevated in the synovial fibroblasts from mice with collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). The proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) induce SYN expression in mouse synovial fibroblasts. Cultivation of mouse synovial fibroblasts with IL-1β activates mitogen-activated protein kinases, including extra-cellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk), JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase), and p38, while only Erk-specific inhibitor blocks IL-1β-induced SYN expression. Expression of transcription factor ETS1 further enhances IL-1β-induced SYN expression. The dominant negative ETS1 mutant lacking the transcription activation domain inhibits SYN expression in a dose-dependent manner. The activation of both Erk1/2 and ETS1 is increased in the CIA synovial fibroblasts. Inhibition of Erk activation reduces ETS1 phosphorylation and SYN expression. Our data indicate that the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and TNF-α induce the overgrowth of synovial cells by upregulating SYN expression via the Erk1/-ETS1 pathway. These molecules or pathways could therefore be potential targets for the treatment of RA.
doi:10.1186/ar2081
PMCID: PMC1794516  PMID: 17105652

Results 1-11 (11)