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FEBS J. 2012 Jun;279(12):2182-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2012.08602.x. Epub 2012 May 21.

Characterization of the protein ubiquitination response induced by Doxorubicin.

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Department of Genetics, Biology and Biochemistry, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.


Doxorubicin is commonly considered to exert its anti-tumor activity by triggering apoptosis of cancer cells through DNA damage. Recent reports have shown that Doxorubicin elicits a marked heat shock response, and that either inhibition or silencing of heat shock proteins enhance the Doxorubicin apoptotic effect in neuroblastoma cells. In order to investigate whether Doxorubicin may also act through protein modification, we performed a proteomic analysis of ubiquitinated proteins. Here we show that nanomolar Doxorubicin treatment of neuroblastoma cells caused: (a) dose-dependent over-ubiquitination of a specific set of proteins in the absence of measurable inhibition of proteasome, (b) protein ubiquination patterns similar to those with Bortezomib, a proteasome inhibitor, (c) depletion and loss of activity of ubiquitinated enzymes such as lactate dehydrogenase and α-enolase, and (d) a decrease in HSP27 solubility, probably a consequence of its binding to denatured proteins. These data strongly reinforce the hypothesis that Doxorubicin may also exert its effect by damaging proteins.

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