Endometrial cancer-associated mutants of SPOP are defective in regulating estrogen receptor-α protein turnover

P. Zhang, K. Gao, X. Jin, J. Ma, J. Peng, R. Wumaier, Y. Tang, Y. Zhang, J. An, Q. Yan, Y. Dong, H. Huang, L. Yu, C. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Increasing amounts of evidence strongly suggests that dysregulation of ubiquitin-proteasome system is closely associated with cancer pathogenesis. Speckle-type POZ protein (SPOP) is an adapter protein of the CUL3-based E3 ubiquitin ligase complexes. It selectively recruits substrates for their ubiquitination and subsequent degradation. Recently, several exome-sequencing studies of endometrial cancer revealed high frequency somatic mutations in SPOP (5.7–10%). However, how SPOP mutations contribute to endometrial cancer remains unknown. Here, we identified estrogen receptor-α (ERα), a major endometrial cancer promoter, as a substrate for the SPOP-CUL3-RBX1 E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. SPOP specifically recognizes multiple Ser/Thr (S/T)-rich degrons located in the AF2 domain of ERα, and triggers ERα degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. SPOP depletion by siRNAs promotes endometrial cells growth. Strikingly, endometrial cancer-associated mutants of SPOP are defective in regulating ERα degradation and ubiquitination. Furthermore, we found that SPOP participates in estrogen-induced ERα degradation and transactivation. Our study revealed novel molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of ERα protein homeostasis in physiological and pathological conditions, and provided insights in understanding the relationship between SPOP mutations and the development of endometrial cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1687
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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