Mutated SPOP E3 ligase promotes 17βHSD4 protein degradation to drive androgenesis and prostate cancer progression

Lei Shi, Yuqian Yan, Yundong He, Binyuan Yan, Yunqian Pan, Jacob J. Orme, Jun Zhang, Wanhai Xu, Jun Pang, Haojie Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Molecular mechanisms underlying intratumoral androgenesis and aberrant androgen receptor (AR) activation in prostate cancer remain poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that ectopic expression of the E3 ubiquitin ligase adaptor speckle-type poxvirus and zinc finger domain protein (SPOP) stabilizes 17βHSD4. SPOP bound a functional substrate-binding consensus (SBC) motif 315RATST319 in 17βHSD4 and promoted nondegradable K27- and K29-linked polyubiquitination of 17βHSD4. The effect of SPOP was antagonized by serum- and glucocorticoid kinase-3 (SGK3)- mediated phosphorylation of serine 318 (S318) in the SBC and S318 phosphorylation-dependent binding of SKP2 E3 ligase and subsequent K48-linked polyubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of 17βHSD4. Prostate cancer-associated SPOP mutations impaired the SPOP-17βHSD4 interaction, caused 17βHSD4 protein destruction in prostate cancer cells in culture and patient specimens, and increased testosterone production and prostate cancer cell growth in vitro and in mouse models. Thus, we have identified SPOP and SKP2 as two essential E3 ubiquitin ligases that exert opposite effects on 17βHSD4 protein degradation and intratumoral androgenesis in prostate cancer cells. We further demonstrate that SPOP mutations or SKP2 overexpression contribute to prostate cancer progression by decreasing 17βHSD4 expression and increasing intratumoral androgen synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3593-3606
Number of pages14
JournalCancer research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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