Ubiquitylome analysis identifies dysregulation of effector substrates in SPOP-mutant prostate cancer

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Science  03 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6205, pp. 85-89
DOI: 10.1126/science.1250255

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Mutant protein in tumors hits the DEK

Cancer genome sequencing projects have uncovered a multitude of mutations in human tumors. Understanding whether and how these mutations contribute to tumor development and progression could ultimately lead to new therapies. Theurillat et al. studied the protein product of a gene that is recurrently mutated in prostate cancer. Normally this protein helps attach a biochemical tag to cellular proteins that marks them for degradation. The new work shows that the tumor-associated mutant protein loses this tagging ability, which results in the stabilization of a handful of cellular proteins that would otherwise be degraded. One of the most intriguing of these proteins was DEK, which helps prostate cancer cells invade into surrounding tissue.

Science, this issue p. 85


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.

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