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J Biol Chem. 2013 May 3;288(18):12615-26. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.435701. Epub 2013 Mar 29.

Ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1) acts as a novel potentiator of cyclin-dependent kinases to enhance cell proliferation independently of its hydrolase activity.

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Department of Degenerative Neurological Diseases, National Institute of Neuroscience, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, 4-1-1 Ogawahigashi, Kodaira, Tokyo 187-8502, Japan.


Dysregulation of cell proliferation and the cell cycle are associated with various diseases, such as cancer. Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) play central roles in cell proliferation and the cell cycle. Ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1) is expressed in a restricted range of tissues, including the brain and numerous types of cancer. However, the molecular functions of UCH-L1 remain elusive. In this study, we found that UCH-L1 physically interacts with CDK1, CDK4, and CDK5, enhancing their kinase activity. Using several mutants of UCH-L1, we showed that this enhancement is dependent upon interaction levels between UCH-L1 and CDKs but is independent of the known ubiquitin-related functions of UCH-L1. Gain- and loss-of-function studies revealed that UCH-L1 enhances proliferation of multiple cell types, including human cancer cells. Inhibition of the interaction between UCH-L1 and cell cycle-associated CDK resulted in the abolishment of UCH-L1-induced enhancement of cell proliferation. RNA interference of UCH-L1 reduced the growth of human xenograft tumors in mice. We concluded that UCH-L1 is a novel regulator of the kinase activities of CDKs. We believe that our findings from this study will significantly contribute to our understanding of cell cycle-associated diseases.


Cancer; Cell Growth; Cell Proliferation; Cyclin-dependent Kinase (CDK); Protein Complexes; Protein-Protein Interactions; Tumor Marker; UCH-L1

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