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Mol Cancer Res. 2017 Jun;15(6):651-659. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-16-0466. Epub 2017 Feb 23.

The E3 Ligase CHIP Mediates p21 Degradation to Maintain Radioresistance.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Center for Cell Signaling and Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Cancer Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.


Lung cancer resists radiotherapy, making it one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Here, we show that human lung cancer cell lines can be rendered sensitive to ionizing radiation (IR) by RNAi knockdown of C-terminus of Hsc70-interacting protein (CHIP/STUB1), a U-box-type E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets a number of stress-induced proteins. Mechanistically, ubiquitin-dependent degradation of the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor, p21 protein, is reduced by CHIP knockdown, leading to enhanced senescence of cells in response to exposure to IR. Cellular senescence and sensitivity to IR is prevented by CRISPR/Cas9-mediated deletion of the p21 gene (CDKN1A) in CHIP knockdown cells. Conversely, overexpression of CHIP potentiates p21 degradation and promotes greater radioresistance of lung cancer cells. In vitro and cell-based assays demonstrate that p21 is a novel and direct ubiquitylation substrate of CHIP that also requires the CHIP-associated chaperone HSP70. These data reveal that the inhibition of the E3 ubiquitin ligase CHIP promotes radiosensitivity, thus suggesting a novel strategy for the treatment of lung cancer.Implications: The CHIP-HSP70-p21 ubiquitylation/degradation axis identified here could be exploited to enhance the efficacy of radiotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Mol Cancer Res; 15(6); 651-9. ©2017 AACR.

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