The Giant HECT E3 Ubiquitin Ligase HERC1 Is Aberrantly Expressed in Myeloid Related Disorders and It Is a Novel BCR-ABL1 Binding Partner.
ABSTRACT: HERC E3 subfamily members are parts of the E3 ubiquitin ligases and key players for a wide range of cellular functions. Though the involvement of the Ubiquitin Proteasome System in blood disorders has been broadly studied, so far the role of large HERCs in this context remains unexplored. In the present study we examined the expression of the large HECT E3 Ubiquitin Ligase, HERC1, in blood disorders. Our findings revealed that HERC1 gene expression was severely downregulated both in acute and in chronic myelogenous leukemia at diagnosis, while it is restored after complete remission achievement. Instead, in Philadelphia the negative myeloproliferative neoplasm HERC1 level was peculiarly controlled, being very low in Primary Myelofibrosis and significantly upregulated in those Essential Thrombocytemia specimens harboring the mutation in the calreticulin gene. Remarkably, in CML cells HERC1 mRNA level was associated with the BCR-ABL1 kinase activity and the HERC1 protein physically interacted with BCR-ABL1. Furthermore, we found that HERC1 was directly tyrosine phosphorylated by the ABL kinase. Overall and for the first time, we provide original evidence on the potential tumor-suppressing or -promoting properties, depending on the context, of HERC1 in myeloid related blood disorders.
Project description:The HERC gene family encodes proteins with two characteristic domains: HECT and RCC1-like. Proteins with HECT domains have been described to function as ubiquitin ligases, and those that contain RCC1-like domains have been reported to function as GTPases regulators. These two activities are essential in a number of important cellular processes such as cell cycle, cell signaling, and membrane trafficking. Mutations affecting these domains have been found associated with retinitis pigmentosa, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and cancer. In humans, six HERC genes have been reported which encode two subgroups of HERC proteins: large (HERC1-2) and small (HERC3-6). The giant HERC1 protein was the first to be identified. It has been involved in membrane trafficking and cell proliferation/growth through its interactions with clathrin, M2-pyruvate kinase, and TSC2 proteins. Mutations affecting other members of the HERC family have been found to be associated with sterility and growth retardation. Here, we report the characterization of a recessive mutation named tambaleante, which causes progressive Purkinje cell degeneration leading to severe ataxia with reduced growth and lifespan in homozygous mice aged over two months. We mapped this mutation in mouse chromosome 9 and then performed positional cloning. We found a G<-->A transition at position 1448, causing a Gly to Glu substitution (Gly483Glu) in the highly conserved N-terminal RCC1-like domain of the HERC1 protein. Successful transgenic rescue, with either a mouse BAC containing the normal copy of Herc1 or with the human HERC1 cDNA, validated our findings. Histological and biochemical studies revealed extensive autophagy associated with an increase of the mutant protein level and a decrease of mTOR activity. Our observations concerning this first mutation in the Herc1 gene contribute to the functional annotation of the encoded E3 ubiquitin ligase and underline the crucial and unexpected role of this protein in Purkinje cell physiology.
Project description:Megalencephaly is a congenital condition characterized by severe overdeveloped brain size. This phenotype is often caused by mutations affecting the RTK/PI3K/mTOR (receptor tyrosine kinase-phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase-AKT) signaling and its downstream pathway of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Here, using a whole-exome sequencing in a Moroccan consanguineous family, we show that a novel autosomal-recessive neurological condition characterized by megalencephaly, thick corpus callosum and severe intellectual disability is caused by a homozygous nonsense variant in the HERC1 gene. Assessment of the primary skin fibroblast from the proband revealed complete absence of the HERC1 protein. HERC1 is an ubiquitin ligase that interacts with tuberous sclerosis complex 2, an upstream negative regulator of the mTOR pathway. Our data further emphasize the role of the mTOR pathway in the regulation of brain development and the power of next-generation sequencing technique in elucidating the genetic etiology of autosomal-recessive disorders and suggest that HERC1 defect might be a novel cause of autosomal-recessive syndromic megalencephaly.
Project description:Homologous to the E6AP carboxyl terminus (HECT) and regulator of chromosome condensation 1 (RCC1)-like domain-containing proteins (HERCs) belong to the superfamily of ubiquitin ligases. HERC proteins are divided into two subfamilies, Large and Small HERCs. Despite their similarities in terms of both structure and domains, these subfamilies are evolutionarily very distant and result from a convergence phenomenon rather than from a common origin. Large HERC genes, HERC1 and HERC2, are present in most metazoan taxa. They encode very large proteins (approximately 5,000 amino acid residues in a single polypeptide chain) that contain more than one RCC1-like domain as a structural characteristic. Accumulating evidences show that these unusually large proteins play key roles in a wide range of cellular functions which include neurodevelopment, DNA damage repair, and cell proliferation. To better understand the origin, evolution, and function of the Large HERC family, this minireview provides with an integrated overview of their structure and function and details their physiological implications. This study also highlights and discusses how dysregulation of these proteins is associated with severe human diseases such as neurological disorders and cancer.
Project description:Protein modifications by phosphorylation or ubiquitylation have been selected throughout evolution as efficient regulatory mechanisms of cellular processes. Cell migration is a complex, highly coordinated process where these mechanisms must participate in an integrated manner to transmit signaling during migration. In this study, we show that the ubiquitin ligase HERC1 regulates the p38 signaling pathway, and that this regulation is mediated by the MAPK kinase MKK3. Moreover, we demonstrate a crosstalk between RAF and MKK3/p38 pathways where RAF acts upstream of MKK3. Mechanistically, HERC1 regulates the protein levels of C-RAF and MKK3. Thus, HERC1 ubiquitylates C-RAF, targeting it for proteasomal degradation, and RAF proteins regulate MKK3 mRNA levels. Accordingly, HERC1 knockdown induces C-RAF stabilization and activation of RAF proteins; in turn, this activation increases MKK3, which phosphorylates and activates p38. The importance of these observations is demonstrated by HERC1 regulation of cell migration through regulation of p38 signaling via a RAF-dependent mechanism. Thus, HERC1 plays an essential role as a regulator of crosstalk between RAF/MKK3/p38 signaling pathways during cell migration.
Project description:HERC1 is a ubiquitin ligase protein, which, when mutated, induces several malformations and intellectual disability in humans. The animal model of HERC1 mutation is the mouse tambaleante characterized by: (1) overproduction of the protein; (2) cerebellar Purkinje cells death by autophagy; (3) dysregulation of autophagy in spinal cord motor neurons, and CA3 and neocortical pyramidal neurons; (4) impairment of associative learning, linked to altered spinogenesis and absence of LTP in the lateral amygdala; and, (5) motor impairment due to delayed action potential transmission, decrease synaptic transmission efficiency and altered myelination in the peripheral nervous system. To investigate the putative role of HERC1 in the presynaptic dynamics we have performed a series of experiments in cultured tambaleante hippocampal neurons by using transmission electron microscopy, FM1-43 destaining and immunocytochemistry. Our results show: (1) a decrease in the number of synaptic vesicles; (2) reduced active zones; (3) less clathrin immunoreactivity and less presynaptic endings over the hippocampal main dendritic trees; which contrast with (4) a greater number of endosomes and autophagosomes in the presynaptic endings of the tambaleante neurons relative to control ones. Altogether these results show an important role of HERC1 in the regulation of presynaptic membrane dynamics.
Project description:The Polycomb gene BMI1 expression exerts a negative predictive impact on several hematological malignancies, such as acute and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), myelofibrosis, and follicular lymphoma. As already demonstrated in CML, BMI1 is responsible for the resistance to the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in a BCR-ABL1-independent way. Even if, it is unknown where BMI1 in CML is expressed (in progenitors or more mature cells). We decided, therefore, to evaluate if and where the BMI1 protein is located, focusing mainly on the CD34+/CD38-/CD26+ CML progenitors. To begin we measured, by flow cytometry, the proportion of CD34+/CD26+ cells in 31 bone marrow samples from 20 CML patients, at diagnosis and during treatment with imatinib. After that the bone marrow blood smears were stained with antibodies anti-CD26, BCR-ABL1, and BMI1. These smears were observed by a confocal laser microscope and a 3D reconstruction was then performed. At diagnosis, CD34+/CD26+ cells median value/?L was 0.48; this number increased from diagnosis to the third month of therapy and then reduced during treatment with imatinib. The number and behavior of the CD26+ progenitors were independent from the BCR-ABL1 expression, but they summed up what previously observed about the BMI1 expression modulation. In this work we demonstrate for the first time that in CML the BMI1 protein is co-expressed with BCR-ABL1 only in the cytoplasm of the CD26+ precursors; on the contrary, in other hematological malignancies where BMI1 is commonly expressed (follicular lymphoma, essential thrombocytemia, acute myeloid leukemia), it was not co-localized with CD26 or, obviously, with BCR-ABL1. Once translated into the clinical context, if BMI1 is a marker of stemness, our results would suggest the combination of the BMI1 inhibitors with TKIs as an interesting object of research, and, probably, as a promising way to overcome resistance in CML patients.
Project description:Although the use of ATP-competitive tyrosine kinase inhibitors of oncoprotein BCR-ABL1 has enabled durable responses in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), issues of drug resistance and residual leukemic stem cells remain. To test whether the degradation of BCR-ABL1 kinase could offer improved response, we developed a series of proteolysis-targeting chimera (PROTAC) that allosterically target BCR-ABL1 protein and recruit the E3 ligase Von Hippel-Lindau, resulting in ubiquitination and subsequent degradation of the oncogenic fusion protein. In both human CML K562 cells and murine Ba/F3 cells expressing BCR-ABL1, lead compound GMB-475 induced rapid proteasomal degradation and inhibition of downstream biomarkers, such as STAT5, and showed increased sensitivity compared with diastereomeric controls lacking degradation activity. Notably, GMB-475 inhibited the proliferation of certain clinically relevant BCR-ABL1 kinase domain point mutants and further sensitized Ba/F3 BCR-ABL1 cells to inhibition by imatinib, while demonstrating no toxicity toward Ba/F3 parental cells. Reverse phase protein array analysis suggested additional differences in levels of phosphorylated SHP2, GAB2, and SHC associated with BCR-ABL1 degradation. Importantly, GMB-475 reduced viability and increased apoptosis in primary CML CD34+ cells, with no effect on healthy CD34+ cells at identical concentrations. GMB-475 degraded BCR-ABL1 and reduced cell viability in primary CML stem cells. Together, these findings suggest that combined BCR-ABL1 kinase inhibition and protein degradation may represent a strategy to address BCR-ABL1-dependent drug resistance, and warrant further investigation into the eradication of persistent leukemic stem cells, which rely on neither the presence nor the activity of the BCR-ABL1 protein for survival. SIGNIFICANCE: Small-molecule-induced degradation of BCR-ABL1 in CML provides an advantage over inhibition and provides insights into CML stem cell biology. GRAPHICAL ABSTRACT: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/canres/79/18/4744/F1.large.jpg.
Project description:Leukemia stem cells are a rare population with a primitive progenitor phenotype that can initiate, sustain, and recapitulate leukemia through a poorly understood mechanism of self-renewal. Here, we report that Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) promotes disease progression in a murine model of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)-like myeloproliferative neoplasia by repressing an inhibitory mechanism of preservation in leukemia stem/progenitor cells with leukemia-initiating capacity. Deletion of the Klf4 gene severely abrogated the maintenance of BCR-ABL1(p210)-induced CML by impairing survival and self-renewal in BCR-ABL1+ CD150+ lineage-negative Sca-1+ c-Kit+ leukemic cells. Mechanistically, KLF4 repressed the Dyrk2 gene in leukemic stem/progenitor cells; thus, loss of KLF4 resulted in elevated levels of dual-specificity tyrosine-(Y)-phosphorylation-regulated kinase 2 (DYRK2), which were associated with inhibition of survival and self-renewal via depletion of c-Myc protein and p53 activation. In addition to transcriptional regulation, stabilization of DYRK2 protein by inhibiting ubiquitin E3 ligase SIAH2 with vitamin K3 promoted apoptosis and abrogated self-renewal in murine and human CML stem/progenitor cells. Altogether, our results suggest that DYRK2 is a molecular checkpoint controlling p53- and c-Myc-mediated regulation of survival and self-renewal in CML cells with leukemic-initiating capacity that can be targeted with small molecules.
Project description:ABL1 is a proto-oncogene well known as part of the fusion gene BCR-ABL1 in the Philadelphia chromosome of leukemia cancer cells. Inherited germline ABL1 changes have not been associated with genetic disorders. Here we report ABL1 germline variants cosegregating with an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by congenital heart disease, skeletal abnormalities, and failure to thrive. The variant c.734A>G (p.Tyr245Cys) was found to occur de novo or cosegregate with disease in five individuals (families 1-3). Additionally, a de novo c.1066G>A (p.Ala356Thr) variant was identified in a sixth individual (family 4). We overexpressed the mutant constructs in HEK 293T cells and observed increased tyrosine phosphorylation, suggesting increased ABL1 kinase activities associated with both the p.Tyr245Cys and p.Ala356Thr substitutions. Our clinical and experimental findings, together with previously reported teratogenic effects of selective BCR-ABL inhibitors in humans and developmental defects in Abl1 knockout mice, suggest that ABL1 has an important role during organismal development.
Project description:BCR/ABL1-like acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a subgroup of B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukaemia that occurs within cases without recurrent molecular rearrangements. Gene expression profiling (GEP) can identify these cases but it is expensive and not widely available. Using GEP, we identified 10 genes specifically overexpressed by BCR/ABL1-like ALL cases and used their expression values - assessed by quantitative real time-polymerase chain reaction (Q-RT-PCR) in 26 BCR/ABL1-like and 26 non-BCR/ABL1-like cases to build a statistical "BCR/ABL1-like predictor", for the identification of BCR/ABL1-like cases. By screening 142 B-lineage ALL patients with the "BCR/ABL1-like predictor", we identified 28/142 BCR/ABL1-like patients (19·7%). Overall, BCR/ABL1-like cases were enriched in JAK/STAT mutations (P < 0·001), IKZF1 deletions (P < 0·001) and rearrangements involving cytokine receptors and tyrosine kinases (P = 0·001), thus corroborating the validity of the prediction. Clinically, the BCR/ABL1-like cases identified by the BCR/ABL1-like predictor achieved a lower rate of complete remission (P = 0·014) and a worse event-free survival (P = 0·0009) compared to non-BCR/ABL1-like ALL. Consistently, primary cells from BCR/ABL1-like cases responded in vitro to ponatinib. We propose a simple tool based on Q-RT-PCR and a statistical model that is capable of easily, quickly and reliably identifying BCR/ABL1-like ALL cases at diagnosis.