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EMBO J. 2018 Sep 3;37(17). pii: e96831. doi: 10.15252/embj.201796831. Epub 2018 Jul 9.

Atypical APC/C-dependent degradation of Mcl-1 provides an apoptotic timer during mitotic arrest.

Author information

1
Division of Cancer Research, Jacqui Wood Cancer Centre, School of Medicine, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK.
2
Division of Cancer Research, Jacqui Wood Cancer Centre, School of Medicine, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK paul.clarke@uq.edu.au.
3
The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute Faculty of Medicine Translational Research Institute, Woolloongabba, Qld, Australia.

Abstract

The initiation of apoptosis in response to the disruption of mitosis provides surveillance against chromosome instability. Here, we show that proteolytic destruction of the key regulator Mcl-1 during an extended mitosis requires the anaphase-promoting complex or cyclosome (APC/C) and is independent of another ubiquitin E3 ligase, SCFFbw7 Using live-cell imaging, we show that the loss of Mcl-1 during mitosis is dependent on a D box motif found in other APC/C substrates, while an isoleucine-arginine (IR) C-terminal tail regulates the manner in which Mcl-1 engages with the APC/C, converting Mcl-1 from a Cdc20-dependent and checkpoint-controlled substrate to one that is degraded independently of checkpoint strength. This mechanism ensures a relatively slow but steady rate of Mcl-1 degradation during mitosis and avoids its catastrophic destruction when the mitotic checkpoint is satisfied, providing an apoptotic timer that can distinguish a prolonged mitotic delay from normal mitosis. Importantly, we also show that inhibition of Cdc20 promotes mitotic cell death more effectively than loss of APC/C activity through differential effects on Mcl-1 degradation, providing an improved strategy to kill cancer cells.

KEYWORDS:

Mcl‐1; apoptosis; mitosis; mitotic cell death; proteolysis

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