Short Communication | Published:

Lysine-52 stabilizes the MYC oncoprotein through an SCFFbxw7-independent mechanism

Oncogene volume 36, pages 68156822 (07 December 2017) | Download Citation

Abstract

The oncogenic transcription factor c-MYC (MYC) is deregulated and often overexpressed in more than 50% of cancers. MYC deregulation is associated with poor prognosis and aggressive disease, suggesting that the development of therapeutic inhibitors targeting MYC would markedly impact patient outcome. MYC is highly regulated, with a protein and mRNA half-life of ~30 min. The most extensively studied pathway regulating MYC protein stability involves ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation mediated by the E3-ligase, SCFFbxw7. Here we provide evidence for an SCFFbxw7-independent regulatory mechanism centred on the highly conserved lysine-52 (K52) within MYC Box I. This residue has been shown to be post-translationally modified by both ubiquitylation and SUMOylation, hinting at the interplay of post-translational modifications at this site and the importance of this residue. We demonstrate that mutation of K52 to arginine (R) renders the MYC protein more labile. Mechanistically, we show that the degradation pathway regulated by K52 is independent of the Cullin-RING ligase family of E3-ligases, which includes not only the canonical SCFFbxw7 but also other known MYC-targeting E3-ligases, such as SCFSkp2, SCFβTCRP, SCFFbxo28 and DCXTRUSS. Taken together, our data identify a novel regulatory pathway centred on K52 that may be exploited for the development of anti-MYC therapeutics.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Dr Bert Vogelstein for the HCT116 cells (wt/Fbxw7−/−) and all members of the Penn lab and especially the technical support of Aaliya Tamachi and Natasha Vitkin. LZP holds the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Molecular Oncology. This work was also supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MOP275788).

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Affiliations

  1. Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    • J De Melo
    • , S S Kim
    • , C Lourenco
    •  & L Z Penn
  2. Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    • C Lourenco
    •  & L Z Penn

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to L Z Penn.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/onc.2017.268

Supplementary Information accompanies this paper on the Oncogene website (http://www.nature.com/onc)