Overexpression of oncoproteins is a major cause of treatment failure using current chemotherapeutic drugs. Drug-induced degradation of oncoproteins is feasible and can improve clinical outcomes in diverse types of cancers. Mortalin-2 (mot-2) is a dominant oncoprotein in several tumors, including colorectal cancer (CRC). In addition to inactivating the p53 tumor suppressor protein, mot-2 enhances tumor cell invasion and migration. Thus, mot-2 is considered a potential therapeutic target in several cancer types. The current study investigated the biological role of a ubiquitin-like protein called UBXN2A in the regulation of mot-2 turnover. An orthogonal ubiquitin transfer technology followed by immunoprecipitation, in vitro ubiquitination, and Magnetic Beads TUBE2 pull-down experiments revealed that UBXN2A promotes carboxyl terminus of the HSP70-interacting protein (CHIP)-dependent ubiquitination of mot-2. We subsequently showed that UBXN2A increases proteasomal degradation of mot-2. A subcellular compartmentalization experiment revealed that induced UBXN2A decreases the level of mot-2 and its chaperone partner, HSP60. Pharmacological upregulation of UBXN2A using a small molecule, veratridine (VTD), decreases the level of mot-2 in cancer cells. Consistent with the in vitro results, UBXN2A+/- mice exhibited selective elevation of mot-2 in colon tissues. An in vitro Anti-K48 TUBE isolation approach showed that recombinant UBXN2A enhances proteasomal degradation of mot-2 in mouse colon tissues. Finally, we observed enhanced association of CHIP with the UBXN2A-mot-2 complex in tumors in an azoxymethane/dextran sulfate sodium-induced mouse CRC model. The existence of a multiprotein complex containing UBXN2A, CHIP, and mot-2 suggests a synergistic tumor suppressor activity of UBXN2A and CHIP in mot-2-enriched tumors. This finding validates the UBXN2A-CHIP axis as a novel and potential therapeutic target in CRC.
Keywords: CHIP E3 ligase; UBXN2A; colorectal cancer; mortalin-2; mouse; veratridine.
© 2018 The Authors. Published by FEBS Press and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.