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J Biol Chem. 2011 Oct 14;286(41):35388-95. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.261537. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

The p73 tumor suppressor is targeted by Pirh2 RING finger E3 ubiquitin ligase for the proteasome-dependent degradation.

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Comparative Oncology Laboratory, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


The p73 gene, a homologue of the p53 tumor suppressor, is expressed as TA and ΔN isoforms. TAp73 has similar activity as p53 and functions as a tumor suppressor whereas ΔNp73 has both pro- and anti-survival functions. While p73 is rarely mutated in spontaneous tumors, the expression status of p73 is linked to the sensitivity of tumor cells to chemotherapy and prognosis for many types of human cancer. Thus, uncovering its regulators in tumors is of great interest. Here, we found that Pirh2, a RING finger E3 ubiquitin ligase, promotes the proteasome-dependent degradation of p73. Specifically, we showed that knockdown of Pirh2 up-regulates, whereas ectopic expression of Pirh2 down-regulates, expression of endogenous and exogenous p73. In addition, Pirh2 physically associates with and promotes TAp73 polyubiquitination both in vivo and in vitro. Moreover, we found that p73 can be degraded by both 20 S and 26 S proteasomes. Finally, we showed that Pirh2 knockdown leads to growth suppression in a TAp73-dependent manner. Taken together, our findings indicate that Pirh2 promotes the proteasomal turnover of TAp73, and thus targeting Pirh2 to restore TAp73-mediated growth suppression in p53-deficient tumors may be developed as a novel anti-cancer strategy.

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