Cancer genome characterization has revealed driver mutations in genes that govern ubiquitylation; however, the mechanisms by which these alterations promote tumorigenesis remain incompletely characterized. Here, we analyzed changes in the ubiquitin landscape induced by prostate cancer-associated mutations of SPOP, an E3 ubiquitin ligase substrate-binding protein. SPOP mutants impaired ubiquitylation of a subset of proteins in a dominant-negative fashion. Of these, DEK and TRIM24 emerged as effector substrates consistently up-regulated by SPOP mutants. We highlight DEK as a SPOP substrate that exhibited decreases in ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation resulting from heteromeric complexes of wild-type and mutant SPOP protein. DEK stabilization promoted prostate epithelial cell invasion, which implicated DEK as an oncogenic effector. More generally, these results provide a framework to decipher tumorigenic mechanisms linked to dysregulated ubiquitylation.
Distal myopathies are a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by progressive weakness and muscular atrophy, beginning in distal limb muscles and affecting proximal limb muscles at a later stage. We studied a large German kindred with 10 affected members. Weakness and atrophy of the anterior tibial muscles started between the ages of 8 and 16 years, followed by atrophy of intrinsic hand muscles. Progression was slow, and patients retained the ability to walk until the seventh decade. Serum creatinine kinase levels were increased in the range of 150-1400 U/l. Muscle biopsies showed myopathic changes, whereas immunohistochemistry showed normal expression of marker proteins for muscular dystrophies. Patients had reduced sensation with stocking-glove distribution in the distal limbs in later life. Nerve conduction studies revealed no evidence of neuropathy. Genome-wide linkage analysis in this family revealed a new locus for distal myopathy at 9p21.2-p22.3 (multipoint logarithm of the odds ratio=4.21). By positional cloning we found a heterozygous mutation L95F in the Kelch-like homologue 9 gene, encoding a bric-a-brac Kelch protein. Molecular modelling indicated that the mutation may interfere with the interaction of the bric-a-brac domain with Cullin 3. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments confirmed that the mutation reduces association with Cullin 3 in the Kelch-like homologue 9-Cullin 3-E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, which is involved in ubiquitin-dependent protein degradation. We identified a unique form of early onset autosomal dominant distal myopathy which is associated with a Kelch-like homologue 9 mutation and interferes with normal skeletal muscle through a novel pathogenetic mechanism.
The E3 ligases recruit substrate proteins for targeted ubiquitylation. Recent insights into the mechanisms of ubiquitylation demonstrate that E3 ligases can possess active regulatory properties beyond those of a simple assembly scaffold. Here, we describe the dimeric structure of the E3 ligase adaptor protein SPOP (speckle-type POZ protein) in complex with the N-terminal domain of Cul3 at 2.4 Å resolution. We find that SPOP forms large oligomers that can form heteromeric species with the closely related paralog SPOPL. In combination, SPOP and SPOPL (SPOP-like) form a molecular rheostat that can fine-tune E3 ubiquitin ligase activity by affecting the oligomeric state of the E3 complex. We propose that adaptor protein self-assembly provides a graded level of regulation of the SPOP/Cul3 E3 ligase toward its multiple protein substrates.
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