The IMiD target CRBN determines HSP90 activity toward transmembrane proteins essential in multiple myeloma

Mol Cell. 2021 Mar 18;81(6):1170-1186.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2020.12.046. Epub 2021 Feb 10.


The complex architecture of transmembrane proteins requires quality control (QC) of folding, membrane positioning, and trafficking as prerequisites for cellular homeostasis and intercellular communication. However, it has remained unclear whether transmembrane protein-specific QC hubs exist. Here we identify cereblon (CRBN), the target of immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs), as a co-chaperone that specifically determines chaperone activity of HSP90 toward transmembrane proteins by means of counteracting AHA1. This function is abrogated by IMiDs, which disrupt the interaction of CRBN with HSP90. Among the multiple transmembrane protein clients of CRBN-AHA1-HSP90 revealed by cell surface proteomics, we identify the amino acid transporter LAT1/CD98hc as a determinant of IMiD activity in multiple myeloma (MM) and present an Anticalin-based CD98hc radiopharmaceutical for MM radio-theranostics. These data establish the CRBN-AHA1-HSP90 axis in the biogenesis of transmembrane proteins, link IMiD activity to tumor metabolism, and nominate CD98hc and LAT1 as attractive diagnostic and therapeutic targets in MM.

Keywords: CD98hc; CRBN; HSP90; IMiDs; LAT1; chaperones; multiple myeloma; protein quality control; radio-theranostics; ubiquitin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Fusion Regulatory Protein 1, Heavy Chain / metabolism*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology*
  • Large Neutral Amino Acid-Transporter 1 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, SCID
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Multiple Myeloma / drug therapy
  • Multiple Myeloma / metabolism*
  • Multiple Myeloma / pathology
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism*


  • AHSA1 protein, human
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • CRBN protein, human
  • Fusion Regulatory Protein 1, Heavy Chain
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Large Neutral Amino Acid-Transporter 1
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • SLC3A2 protein, human
  • SLC7A5 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases