The Nedd4-like family of E3 ubiquitin ligases and cancer

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2007 Dec;26(3-4):587-604. doi: 10.1007/s10555-007-9091-x.


Accumulating evidence suggests that E3 ubiquitin ligases play important roles in cancer development. In this article, we provide a comprehensive summary of the roles of the Nedd4-like family of E3 ubiquitin ligases in human cancer. There are nine members of the Nedd4-like E3 family, all of which share a similar structure, including a C2 domain at the N-terminus, two to four WW domains in the middle of the protein, and a homologous to E6-AP COOH terminus domain at the C-terminus. The assertion that Nedd4-like E3s play a role in cancer is supported by the overexpression of Smurf2 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, WWP1 in prostate and breast cancer, Nedd4 in prostate and bladder cancer, and Smurf1 in pancreatic cancer. Because Nedd4-like E3s regulate ubiquitin-mediated trafficking, lysosomal or proteasomal degradation, and nuclear translocation of multiple proteins, they modulate important signaling pathways involved in tumorigenesis like TGFbeta, EGF, IGF, VEGF, SDF-1, and TNFalpha. Additionally, several Nedd4-like E3s directly regulate various cancer-related transcription factors from the Smad, p53, KLF, RUNX, and Jun families. Interestingly, multiple Nedd4-like E3s show ligase independent function. Furthermore, Nedd4-like E3s themselves are frequently regulated by phosphorylation, ubiquitination, translocation, and transcription in cancer cells. Because the regulation and biological output of these E3s is such a complex process, study of the role of these E3s in cancer development poses some challenges. However, understanding the oncogenic potential of these E3s may facilitate the identification and development of biomarkers and drug targets in human cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocytosis
  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport
  • Humans
  • Nedd4 Ubiquitin Protein Ligases
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Receptors, Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Smad Proteins / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / chemistry
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / physiology*
  • Ubiquitination


  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport
  • Receptors, Growth Factor
  • Smad Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Nedd4 Ubiquitin Protein Ligases
  • Nedd4 protein, human
  • SMURF2 protein, human
  • WWP1 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases