An impaired ubiquitin-proteasome system increases APOBEC3A abundance

NAR Cancer. 2023 Dec 19;5(4):zcad058. doi: 10.1093/narcan/zcad058. eCollection 2023 Dec.


Apolipoprotein B messenger RNA (mRNA) editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide-like (APOBEC) cytidine deaminases cause genetic instability during cancer development. Elevated APOBEC3A (A3A) levels result in APOBEC signature mutations; however, mechanisms regulating A3A abundance in breast cancer are unknown. Here, we show that dysregulating the ubiquitin-proteasome system with proteasome inhibitors, including Food and Drug Administration-approved anticancer drugs, increased A3A abundance in breast cancer and multiple myeloma cell lines. Unexpectedly, elevated A3A occurs via an ∼100-fold increase in A3A mRNA levels, indicating that proteasome inhibition triggers a transcriptional response as opposed to or in addition to blocking A3A degradation. This transcriptional regulation is mediated in part through FBXO22, a protein that functions in SKP1-cullin-F-box ubiquitin ligase complexes and becomes dysregulated during carcinogenesis. Proteasome inhibitors increased cellular cytidine deaminase activity, decreased cellular proliferation and increased genomic DNA damage in an A3A-dependent manner. Our findings suggest that proteasome dysfunction, either acquired during cancer development or induced therapeutically, could increase A3A-induced genetic heterogeneity and thereby influence therapeutic responses in patients.