Int6 regulates both proteasomal degradation and translation initiation and is critical for proper formation of acini by human mammary epithelium

Oncogene. 2011 Feb 10;30(6):724-36. doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.445. Epub 2010 Oct 4.


INT6/EIF3E has been implicated in breast tumorigenesis, but its functional activities remain poorly defined. We found that, repressing INT6 expression induced transformed properties in normal human mammary epithelium (MCF10A); in contrast, Int6 silencing induced apoptosis in HeLa cells. As in fission yeast, Int6 in human cells was required for assembly of active proteasomes. A reverse-phase protein array screen identified SRC3/AIB1 as one oncoprotein the level and stability of which increased when Int6 was silenced in MCF10A cells. Our data further show that Int6 binds SRC3 and its ubiquitin ligase Fbw7, thus perhaps mediating the interaction between SRC3-Fbw7 and proteasomes. Consistent with this, Int6 silencing did not increase SRC3 levels in HeLa cells, which have low Fbw7 levels. It is surprising that, however, polyubiquitylated proteins do not accumulate or may even decrease in Int6-silenced cells that contain defective proteasomes. Considering that decreased ubiquitin might explain this observation and that Int6 might control ubiquitin levels in its role as a subunit of eIF3 (eukaryote translation initiation factor 3), we found that silencing Int6 reduced monoubiquitin protein levels, which correlated with a shift of ubiquitin mRNAs from larger polysomes to non-translating ribosomes. In contrast, levels of many housekeeping proteins did not change. This apparent reduction in the translation of ubiquitin genes correlated with a modest reduction in protein synthesis rate and formation of large polysomes. To further determine whether Int6 can selectively control translation, we analyzed translation of different 5'-untranslated region reporters and found that indeed, loss of Int6 had differential effects on these reporters. Together the data suggest that Int6 depletion blocks ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis by decreasing both ubiquitin levels and the assembly of functional proteasome machinery, leading to accumulation of oncoproteins, such as SRC3 that can transform mammary epithelium. Our data also raise the possibility that Int6 can further fine-tune protein levels by selectively controlling translation of specific mRNAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-3 / genetics
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-3 / metabolism*
  • F-Box Proteins / metabolism
  • F-Box-WD Repeat-Containing Protein 7
  • Gene Silencing
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human / growth & development*
  • Mammary Glands, Human / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Receptor Coactivator 3 / metabolism
  • Polyribosomes / metabolism
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-3
  • F-Box Proteins
  • F-Box-WD Repeat-Containing Protein 7
  • FBXW7 protein, human
  • NCOA3 protein, human
  • Nuclear Receptor Coactivator 3
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex