Ubiquitylation of p53 by the APC/C inhibitor Trim39.

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Tripartite motif 39 (Trim39) is a RING domain-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase able to inhibit the anaphase-promoting complex (APC/C) directly. Through analysis of Trim39 function in p53-positive and p53-negative cells, we have found, surprisingly, that p53-positive cells lacking Trim39 could not traverse the G1/S transition. This effect did not result from disinhibition of the APC/C. Moreover, although Trim39 loss inhibited etoposide-induced apoptosis in p53-negative cells, apoptosis was enhanced by Trim39 knockdown in p53-positive cells. Furthermore, we show here that the Trim39 can directly bind and ubiquitylate p53 in vitro and in vivo, leading to p53 degradation. Depletion of Trim39 significantly increased p53 protein levels and cell growth retardation in multiple cell lines. We found that the relative importance of Trim39 and the well-characterized p53-directed E3 ligase, murine double minute 2 (MDM2), varied between cell types. In cells that were relatively insensitive to the MDM2 inhibitor, nutlin-3a, apoptosis could be markedly enhanced by siRNA directed against Trim39. As such, Trim39 may serve as a potential therapeutic target in tumors with WT p53 when MDM2 inhibition is insufficient to elevate p53 levels and apoptosis.





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Zhang, Liguo, Nai-Jia Huang, Chen Chen, Wanli Tang and Sally Kornbluth (2012). Ubiquitylation of p53 by the APC/C inhibitor Trim39. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109(51). pp. 20931–20936. 10.1073/pnas.1212047110 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/8389.

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Liguo Zhang

Academic Dean, Dku Undergrad Students

Sally A. Kornbluth

Jo Rae Wright University Distinguished Professor Emerita

Our lab studies the regulation of complex cellular processes, including cell cycle progression and programmed cell death (apoptosis). These tightly orchestrated processes are critical for appropriate cell proliferation and cell death, and when they go awry can result in cancer and degenerative disorders. Within these larger fields, we have focused on understanding the cellular mechanisms that prevent the onset of mitosis prior to the completion of DNA replication, the processes that prevent cell division when the mitotic spindle is disrupted, the signaling pathways that prevent apoptotic cell death in cancer cells and the mechanisms that link cell metabolism to cell death and survival.

In our quest to answer these important cell biological and biochemical questions, we are varied in our use of experimental systems.   Traditionally, we have used cell-free extracts prepared from eggs of the frog Xenopus laevis which can recapitulate cell cycle events and apoptotic processes in vitro. For the study of cell cycle events, extracts are prepared which can undergo multiple rounds of DNA replication and mitosis in vitro. Progression through the cell cycle can be monitored by microscopic observation of nuclear morphology and by biochemically assaying the activity of serine/threonine kinases which control cell cycle transitions.

For the study of apoptosis, modifications in extract preparation have allowed us to produce extracts which can apoptotically fragment nuclei and can accurately reproduce the biochemical events of apoptosis, including internucleosomal DNA cleavage and activation of apoptotic proteases, the caspases.

More recently, we have focused on studying apoptosis and cell cycle progression in mammalian models, both tissue culture cells and mouse models of cancer.  In these studies, we are trying to determine the precise signaling mechanisms used by cancer cells to accelerate proliferation and evade apoptotic cell death mechanisms.   We also endeavor to subvert these mechanisms to therapeutic advantage.   We are particularly interested in links between metabolism and cell death, as high metabolic rates in cancer cells appear to suppress apoptosis to evade chemotherapy-induced cell death.

Finally, we also have several projects using the facile genetics of Drosophila melanogaster to further understand links between metabolism and cell death and also the ways in which mitochondrial dynamics are linked to apoptotic pathways.

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