Nat Commun. 2019 Apr 2;10(1):1492. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09525-y.
Gut microbiota dependent anti-tumor immunity restricts melanoma growth in Rnf5-/- mice.
Li Y, Tinoco R, Elmén L, Segota I, Xian Y, Fujita Y, Sahu A, Zarecki R, Marie K, Feng Y, Khateb A, Frederick DT, Ashkenazi SK, Kim H, Perez EG, Day CP, Segura Muñoz RS, Schmaltz R, Yooseph S, Tam MA, Zhang T, Avitan-Hersh E, Tzur L, Roizman S, Boyango I, Bar-Sela G, Orian A, Kaufman RJ, Bosenberg M, Goding CR, Baaten B, Levesque MP, Dummer R, Brown K, Merlino G, Ruppin E, Flaherty K, Ramer-Tait A, Long T, Peterson SN, Bradley LM, Ronai ZA
Accumulating evidence points to an important role for the gut microbiome in anti-tumor immunity. Here, we show that altered intestinal microbiota contributes to anti-tumor immunity, limiting tumor expansion. Mice lacking the ubiquitin ligase RNF5 exhibit attenuated activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) components, which coincides with increased expression of inflammasome components, recruitment and activation of dendritic cells and reduced expression of antimicrobial peptides in intestinal epithelial cells. Reduced UPR expression is also seen in murine and human melanoma tumor specimens that responded to immune checkpoint therapy. Co-housing of Rnf5-/- and WT mice abolishes the anti-tumor immunity and tumor inhibition phenotype, whereas transfer of 11 bacterial strains, including B. rodentium, enriched in Rnf5-/- mice, establishes anti-tumor immunity and restricts melanoma growth in germ-free WT mice. Altered UPR signaling, exemplified in Rnf5-/- mice, coincides with altered gut microbiota composition and anti-tumor immunity to control melanoma growth.
Trends Mol Med. 2019 Mar 18. (19)30034-6.
Ubiquitin Ligases in Cancer Immunotherapy - Balancing Antitumor and Autoimmunity.
Fujita Y, Tinoco R, Li Y, Senft D, Ronai ZA
Considerable progress has been made in understanding the contribution of E3 ubiquitin ligases to health and disease, including the pathogenesis of immunological disorders. Ubiquitin ligases exert exquisite spatial and temporal control over protein stability and function, and are thus crucial for the regulation of both innate and adaptive immunity. Given that immune responses can be both detrimental (autoimmunity) and beneficial (antitumor immunity), it is vital to understand how ubiquitin ligases maintain immunological homeostasis. Such knowledge could reveal novel mechanisms underlying immune regulation and identify new therapeutic approaches to enhance antitumor immunity and safeguard against autoimmunity.
Cancer Lett. 2019 May 1;449:145-162.
Identification and characterization of small molecule inhibitors of the ubiquitin ligases Siah1/2 in melanoma and prostate cancer cells.
Feng Y, Sessions EH, Zhang F, Ban F, Placencio-Hickok V, Ma CT, Zeng FY, Pass I, Terry DB, Cadwell G, Bankston LA, Liddington RC, Chung TDY, Pinkerton AB, Sergienko E, Gleave M, Bhowmick NA, Jackson MR, Cherkasov A, Ronai ZA
Inhibition of ubiquitin ligases with small molecule remains a very challenging task, given the lack of catalytic activity of the target and the requirement of disruption of its interactions with other proteins. Siah1/2, which are E3 ubiquitin ligases, are implicated in melanoma and prostate cancer and represent high-value drug targets. We utilized three independent screening approaches in our efforts to identify small-molecule Siah1/2 inhibitors: Affinity Selection-Mass Spectrometry, a protein thermal shift-based assay and an in silico based screen. Inhibitors were assessed for their effect on viability of melanoma and prostate cancer cultures, colony formation, prolyl-hydroxylase-HIF1α signaling, expression of selected Siah2-related transcripts, and Siah2 ubiquitin ligase activity. Several analogs were further characterized, demonstrating improved efficacy. Combination of the top hits identified in the different assays demonstrated an additive effect, pointing to complementing mechanisms that underlie each of these Siah1/2 inhibitors.
EMBO J. 2018 Oct 15;37(20). pii: e99735. doi: 10.15252/embj.201899735. Epub 2018 Sep 12.
Targeting the Warburg effect via LDHA inhibition engages ATF4 signaling for cancer cell survival.
Pathria G, Scott DA, Feng Y, Sang Lee J, Fujita Y, Zhang G, Sahu AD, Ruppin E, Herlyn M, Osterman AL, Ronai ZA
Nutrient restriction reprograms cellular signaling and metabolic network to shape cancer phenotype. Lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA) has a key role in aerobic glycolysis (the Warburg effect) through regeneration of the electron acceptor NAD+ and is widely regarded as a desirable target for cancer therapeutics. However, the mechanisms of cellular response and adaptation to LDHA inhibition remain largely unknown. Here, we show that LDHA activity supports serine and aspartate biosynthesis. Surprisingly, however, LDHA inhibition fails to impact human melanoma cell proliferation, survival, or tumor growth. Reduced intracellular serine and aspartate following LDHA inhibition engage GCN2-ATF4 signaling to initiate an expansive pro-survival response. This includes the upregulation of glutamine transporter SLC1A5 and glutamine uptake, with concomitant build-up of essential amino acids, and mTORC1 activation, to ameliorate the effects of LDHA inhibition. Tumors with low LDHA expression and melanoma patients acquiring resistance to MAPK signaling inhibitors, which target the Warburg effect, exhibit altered metabolic gene expression reminiscent of the ATF4-mediated survival signaling. ATF4-controlled survival mechanisms conferring synthetic vulnerability to the approaches targeting the Warburg effect offer efficacious therapeutic strategies.
Cell Rep. 2018 Sep 18;24(12):3296-3311.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.08.057.
Regulation of S100A8 Stability by RNF5 in Intestinal Epithelial Cells Determines Intestinal Inflammation and Severity of Colitis.
Fujita Y, Khateb A, Li Y, Tinoco R, Zhang T, Bar-Yoseph H, Tam MA, Chowers Y, Sabo E, Gerassy-Vainberg S, Starosvetsky E, James B, Brown K, Shen-Orr SS, Bradley LM, Tessier PA, Ronai ZA
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is prevalent, but the mechanisms underlying disease development remain elusive. We identify a role for the E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF5 in IBD. Intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) express a high level of RNF5, while the colon of Rnf5-/- mice exhibits activated dendritic cells and intrinsic inflammation. Rnf5-/- mice exhibit severe acute colitis following dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) treatment. S100A8 is identified as an RNF5 substrate, resulting in S100A8 ubiquitination and proteasomal-dependent degradation that is attenuated upon inflammatory stimuli. Loss of RNF5 from IECs leads to enhanced S100A8 secretion, which induces mucosal CD4+ T cells, resulting in Th1 pro-inflammatory responses. Administration of S100A8-neutralizing antibodies to DSS-treated Rnf5-/- mice attenuates acute colitis development and increases survival. An inverse correlation between RNF5 and S100A8 protein expression in IECs of IBD patients coincides with disease severity. Collectively, RNF5-mediated regulation of S100A8 stability in IECs is required for the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis.
J Cell Biol. 2018 Jan 16. pii: jcb.201712007. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201712007.
Rewired Notch/p53 by Numb'ing Mdm2.
Hyungsoo Kim, Ze’ev A Ronai
Nat Rev Cancer. 2017 Dec 15. doi: 10.1038/nrc.2017.105.
Ubiquitin ligases in oncogenic transformation and cancer therapy.
Daniela Senft, Jianfei Qi, Ze’ev A. Ronai
The cellular response to external stress signals and DNA damage depends on the activity of ubiquitin ligases (E3s), which regulate numerous cellular processes, including homeostasis, metabolism and cell cycle progression. E3s recognize, interact with and ubiquitylate protein substrates in a temporally and spatially regulated manner. The topology of the ubiquitin chains dictates the fate of the substrates, marking them for recognition and degradation by the proteasome or altering their subcellular localization or assembly into functional complexes. Both genetic and epigenetic alterations account for the deregulation of E3s in cancer. Consequently, the stability and/or activity of E3 substrates are also altered, in some cases leading to downregulation of tumour-suppressor activities and upregulation of oncogenic activities. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying E3 regulation and function in tumorigenesis is expected to identify novel prognostic markers and to enable the development of the next generation of anticancer therapies. This Review summarizes the oncogenic and tumour-suppressor roles of selected E3s and highlights novel opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
J Clin Invest. 2018 Jan 2;128(1):517-530
SHARPIN-mediated regulation of protein arginine methyltransferase 5 controls melanoma growth.
Tamiya H, Kim H, Klymenko O, Kim H, Feng Y, Zhang T, Han JY, Murao A, Snipas SJ, Jilaveanu L, Brown K, Kluger H, Zhang H, Iwai K, Ronai ZAnai ZA
SHARPIN, an adaptor for the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC), plays important roles in NF-κB signaling and inflammation. Here, we have demonstrated a LUBAC-independent role for SHARPIN in regulating melanoma growth. We observed that SHARPIN interacted with PRMT5, a type II protein arginine methyltransferase, and increased its multiprotein complex and methyltransferase activity. Activated PRMT5 controlled the expression of the transcription factors SOX10 and MITF by SHARPIN-dependent arginine dimethylation and inhibition of the transcriptional corepressor SKI. Activation of PRMT5 by SHARPIN counteracted PRMT5 inhibition by methylthioadenosine, a substrate of methylthioadenosine phosphorylase, which is codeleted with cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDKN2A) in approximately 15% of human cancers. Collectively, we identified a LUBAC-independent role for SHARPIN in enhancing PRMT5 activity that contributes to melanomagenesis through the SKI/SOX10 regulatory axis.
Trends Mol Med. 2017 Oct;23(10):874-898
Precision Oncology: The Road Ahead.
Senft D, Leiserson MDM, Ruppin E, Ronai ZA
Current efforts in precision oncology largely focus on the benefit of genomics-guided therapy. Yet, advances in sequencing techniques provide an unprecedented view of the complex genetic and nongenetic heterogeneity within individual tumors. Herein, we outline the benefits of integrating genomic and transcriptomic analyses for advanced precision oncology. We summarize relevant computational approaches to detect novel drivers and genetic vulnerabilities, suitable for therapeutic exploration. Clinically relevant platforms to functionally test predicted drugs/drug combinations for individual patients are reviewed. Finally, we highlight the technological advances in single cell analysis of tumor specimens. These may ultimately lead to the development of next-generation cancer drugs, capable of tackling the hurdles imposed by genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity on current anticancer therapies.
JCI Insight. 2017 Dec 7;2(23). pii: 97128. doi: 10.1172/
The E3 ubiquitin ligase Siah1 regulates adrenal gland organization and aldosterone secretion.
Scortegagna M, Berthon A, Settas N, Giannakou A, Garcia G, Li JL, James B, Liddington RC, Vilches-Moure JG, Stratakis CA, Ronai ZA
Primary and secondary hypertension are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. Elevated secretion of aldosterone resulting from primary aldosteronism (PA) is a key driver of secondary hypertension. Here, we report an unexpected role for the ubiquitin ligase Siah1 in adrenal gland development and PA. Siah1a-/- mice exhibit altered adrenal gland morphology, as reflected by a diminished X-zone, enlarged medulla, and dysregulated zonation of the glomerulosa as well as increased aldosterone levels and aldosterone target gene expression and reduced plasma potassium levels. Genes involved in catecholamine biosynthesis and cAMP signaling are upregulated in the adrenal glands of Siah1a-/- mice, while genes related to retinoic acid signaling and cholesterol biosynthesis are downregulated. Loss of Siah1 leads to increased expression of the Siah1 substrate PIAS1, an E3 SUMO protein ligase implicated in the suppression of LXR, a key regulator of cholesterol levels in the adrenal gland. In addition, SIAH1 sequence variants were identified in patients with PA; such variants impaired SIAH1 ubiquitin ligase activity, resulting in elevated PIAS1 expression. These data identify a role for the Siah1-PIAS1 axis in adrenal gland organization and function and point to possible therapeutic targets for hyperaldosteronism.
Trends in Cancer, Vol. 2, Issue 8, p429–442, 2016
Adaptive Stress Responses During Tumor Metastasis and Dormancy.
Daniela Senft, Ze'ev A. Ronai
To survive inhospitable environments, tumor cells are forced to remodel their signaling pathways by altering transcription, translation, and post-translational modifications. This adaptation is regulated in a spatial and temporal manner and gives rise to individual tumor cells with distinct gene expression and metabolic signatures. Such phenotypic heterogeneity is the result of tumor cell plasticity, which–together with the genetic background of the tumor–determines whether cells resist environmental stress, enter dormancy, or metastasize. This review summarizes our understanding of how tumor cells exploit the cellular stress response to balance proliferation, differentiation, and survival signals, as well as to remodel local and distant environments. We focus in particular on tumor metastasis, which is the greatest impediment to clinical management of cancers today.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Aug 9;113(32):8894-6.
Monoubiquitination in proteasomal degradation.
Sci Signal. 2015 Dec 8;8(406):ra124.
Melanoma is one of the most lethal skin cancers worldwide, primarily because of its propensity to metastasize. Thus, the elucidation of mechanisms that govern metastatic propensity is urgently needed. We found that protein kinase Cε (PKCε)-mediated activation of activating transcription factor 2 (ATF2) controls the migratory and invasive behaviors of melanoma cells. PKCε-dependent phosphorylation of ATF2 promoted its transcriptional repression of the gene encoding fucokinase (FUK), which mediates the fucose salvage pathway and thus global cellular protein fucosylation. In primary melanocytes and cell lines representing early-stage melanoma, the abundance of PKCε-phosphorylated ATF2 was low, thereby enabling the expression of FUK and cellular protein fucosylation, which promoted cellular adhesion and reduced motility. In contrast, increased expression of the gene encoding PKCε and abundance of phosphorylated, transcriptionally active ATF2 were observed in advanced-stage melanomas and correlated with decreased FUK expression, decreased cellular protein fucosylation, attenuated cell adhesion, and increased cell motility. Restoring fucosylation in mice either by dietary fucose supplementation or by genetic manipulation of murine Fuk expression attenuated primary melanoma growth, increased the number of intratumoral natural killer cells, and decreased distal metastasis in murine isograft models. Tumor microarray analysis of human melanoma specimens confirmed reduced fucosylation in metastatic tumors and a better prognosis for primary melanomas that had high abundance of fucosylation. Thus, inhibiting PKCε or ATF2 or increasing protein fucosylation in tumor cells may improve clinical outcome in melanoma patients.
Cancer Research 2015 November 24:
SBI-0640756 Attenuates the Growth of Clinically Unresponsive Melanomas by Disrupting the eIF4F Translation Initiation Complex.
Feng Y, Pinkerton AB, Hulea L, Zhang T, Davies MA, Grotegut S, Cheli Y, Yin H, Lau E, Kim H, De SK, Barile E, Pellecchia M, Bosenberg M, Li JL, James B, Hassig CA, Brown KM, Topisirovic I, Ronai ZA.
Disrupting the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4F (eIF4F) complex offers an appealing strategy to potentiate the effectiveness of existing cancer therapies and to overcome resistance to drugs such as BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi). Here, we identified and characterized the small molecule SBI-0640756 (SBI-756), a first-in-class inhibitor that targets eIF4G1 and disrupts the eIF4F complex. SBI-756 impaired the eIF4F complex assembly independently of mTOR and attenuated growth of BRAF-resistant and BRAF-independent melanomas. SBI-756 also suppressed AKT and NF-κB signaling, but small-molecule derivatives were identified that only marginally affected these pathways while still inhibiting eIF4F complex formation and melanoma growth, illustrating the potential for further structural and functional manipulation of SBI-756 as a drug lead. In the gene expression signature patterns elicited by SBI-756, DNA damage, and cell-cycle regulatory factors were prominent, with mutations in melanoma cells affecting these pathways conferring drug resistance. SBI-756 inhibited the growth of NRAS, BRAF, and NF1-mutant melanomas in vitro and delayed the onset and reduced the incidence of Nras/Ink4a melanomas in vivo. Furthermore, combining SBI-756 and a BRAFi attenuated the formation of BRAFi-resistant human tumors. Taken together, our findings show how SBI-756 abrogates the growth of BRAF-independent and BRAFi-resistant melanomas, offering a preclinical rationale to evaluate its antitumor effects in other cancers.
Cell Reports. 2015 Jun; doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2015.04.049.
Downregulation of the Ubiquitin Ligase RNF125 Underlies Resistance of Melanoma Cells to BRAF Inhibitors via JAK1 Deregulation
Kim H, Frederick DT, Levesque MP, Cooper ZA, Feng Y, Krepler C, Brill L Samuels Y, Hayward NK, Perlina A, Piris A, Zhang T, Halaban R, Herlyn MM, Brown KM, Wargo JA, Dummer R, Flaherty KT, Ronai ZA.
Despite the remarkable clinical response of melanoma harboring BRAF mutations to BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi), most tumors become resistant. Here, we identified the downregulation of the ubiquitin ligase RNF125 in BRAFi-resistant melanomas and demonstrated its role in intrinsic and adaptive resistance to BRAFi in cultures as well as its association with resistance in tumor specimens. Sox10/MITF expression correlated with and contributed to RNF125 transcription. Reduced RNF125 was associated with elevated expression of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), including EGFR. Notably, RNF125 altered RTK expression through JAK1, which we identified as an RNF125 substrate. RNF125 bound to and ubiquitinated JAK1, prompting its degradation and suppressing RTK expression. Inhibition of JAK1 and EGFR signaling overcame BRAFi resistance in melanoma with reduced RNF125 expression, as shown in culture and in in vivo xenografts. Our findings suggest that combination therapies targeting both JAK1 and EGFR could be effective against BRAFi-resistant tumors with de novo low RNF125 expression.
Cancer Cell 2015 Mar 9;27(3):354-69.
Regulation of Glutamine Carrier Proteins by RNF5 Determines Breast Cancer Response to ER Stress-inducing Chemotherapies
Jeon YJ, Khelifa S, Ratnikov B, Scott DA, Feng Y, Parisi F, Ruller C, Lau E, Kim H, Brill LM, Jiang T, Rimm DL, Cardiff RD, Mills GB, Smith JW, Osterman AL, Kluger Y, Ronai ZA.
Many tumor cells are fueled by altered metabolism and increased glutamine (Gln) dependence. We identify regulation of the L-glutamine carrier proteins SLC1A5 and SLC38A2 (SLC1A5/38A2) by the ubiquitin ligase RNF5. Paclitaxel-induced ER stress to breast cancer (BCa) cells promotes RNF5 association, ubiquitination, and degradation of SLC1A5/38A2. This decreases Gln uptake, levels of TCA cycle components, mTOR signaling, and proliferation while increasing autophagy and cell death. Rnf5-deficient MMTV-PyMT mammary tumors were less differentiated and showed elevated SLC1A5 expression. Whereas RNF5 depletion in MDA-MB-231 cells promoted tumorigenesis and abolished paclitaxel responsiveness, SLC1A5/38A2 knockdown elicited opposing effects. Inverse RNF5(hi)/SLC1A5/38A2(lo) expression was associated with positive prognosis in BCa. Thus, RNF5 control of Gln uptake underlies BCa response to chemotherapies.
Oncogene 2015 Mar 2. doi: 10.1038.
Lau E, Sedy J, Sander C, Shaw MA, Feng Y, Scortegagna M, Claps G, Robinson S, Cheng P, Srivas R, Soonthornvacharin S, Ideker T, Bosenberg M, Gonzalez R, Robinson W, Chanda SK, Ware C, Dummer R, Hoon D, Kirkwood JM, Ronai ZA.
The resistance of melanoma to current treatment modalities represents a major obstacle for durable therapeutic response, and thus the elucidation of mechanisms of resistance is urgently needed. The crucial functions of activating transcription factor-2 (ATF2) in the development and therapeutic resistance of melanoma have been previously reported, although the precise underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we report a protein kinase C-ɛ (PKCɛ)- and ATF2-mediated mechanism that facilitates resistance by transcriptionally repressing the expression of interferon-β1 (IFNβ1) and downstream type-I IFN signaling that is otherwise induced upon exposure to chemotherapy. Treatment of early-stage melanomas expressing low levels of PKCɛ with chemotherapies relieves ATF2-mediated transcriptional repression of IFNβ1, resulting in impaired S-phase progression, a senescence-like phenotype and increased cell death. This response is lost in late-stage metastatic melanomas expressing high levels of PKCɛ. Notably, nuclear ATF2 and low expression of IFNβ1 in melanoma tumor samples correlates with poor patient responsiveness to biochemotherapy or neoadjuvant IFN-α2a. Conversely, cytosolic ATF2 and induction of IFNβ1 coincides with therapeutic responsiveness. Collectively, we identify an IFNβ1-dependent, cell-autonomous mechanism that contributes to the therapeutic resistance of melanoma via the PKCɛ-ATF2 regulatory axis.
Cancer Research 2015 Apr 1;75(7):1399-412.
PDK1 and SGK3 Contribute to the Growth of BRAF-Mutant Melanomas and Are Potential Therapeutic Targets.
Scortegagna M, Lau E, Zhang T, Feng Y, Sereduk C, Yin H, De SK, Meeth K, Platt JT, Langdon CG, Halaban R, Pellecchia M, Davies MA, Brown K, Stern DF, Bosenberg M, Ronai ZA.
Melanoma development involves members of the AGC kinase family, including AKT, PKC, and, most recently, PDK1, as elucidated recently in studies of Braf::Pten mutant melanomas. Here, we report that PDK1 contributes functionally to skin pigmentation and to the development of melanomas harboring a wild-type PTEN genotype, which occurs in about 70% of human melanomas. The PDK1 substrate SGK3 was determined to be an important mediator of PDK1 activities in melanoma cells. Genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of PDK1 and SGK3 attenuated melanoma growth by inducing G1 phase cell-cycle arrest. In a synthetic lethal screen, pan-PI3K inhibition synergized with PDK1 inhibition to suppress melanoma growth, suggesting that focused blockade of PDK1/PI3K signaling might offer a new therapeutic modality for wild-type PTEN tumors. We also noted that responsiveness to PDK1 inhibition associated with decreased expression of pigmentation genes and increased expression of cytokines and inflammatory genes, suggesting a method to stratify patients with melanoma for PDK1-based therapies. Overall, our work highlights the potential significance of PDK1 as a therapeutic target to improve melanoma treatment.
Trends Biochem Sci. 2015 Mar;40(3):141-8.
Cellular stress, induced by external or internal cues, activates several well-orchestrated processes aimed at either restoring cellular homeostasis or committing to cell death. Those processes include the unfolded protein response (UPR), autophagy, hypoxia, and mitochondrial function, which are part of the global endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress (ERS) response. When one of the ERS elements is impaired, as often occurs under pathological conditions, overall cellular homeostasis may be perturbed. Further, activation of the UPR could trigger changes in mitochondrial function or autophagy, which could modulate the UPR, exemplifying crosstalk processes. Among the numerous factors that control the magnitude or duration of these processes are ubiquitin ligases, which govern overall cellular stress outcomes. Here we summarize crosstalk among the fundamental processes governing ERS responses.
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