Research Papers:

NEURL4 regulates the transcriptional activity of tumor suppressor protein p53 by modulating its oligomerization

Monica Cubillos-Rojas, Taiane Schneider, Ramon Bartrons, Francesc Ventura and Jose Luis Rosa _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:61824-61836. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18699

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Monica Cubillos-Rojas1, Taiane Schneider1, Ramon Bartrons1, Francesc Ventura1 and Jose Luis Rosa1

1Departament de Ciències Fisiològiques, Campus de Bellvitge, Institut d’Investigació Biomèdica de Bellvitge (IDIBELL), Universitat de Barcelona, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona E-08907, Spain

Correspondence to:

Jose Luis Rosa, email: [email protected]

Keywords: NEURL4, p53, oligomerization, tetramerization, HERC2

Received: December 28, 2016    Accepted: May 22, 2017    Published: June 27, 2017


p53 is a transcription factor that regulates important cellular processes related to tumor suppression, including induction of senescence, apoptosis, and DNA repair as well as the inhibition of angiogenesis and cell migration. Therefore, it is critical to understand the molecular mechanism that regulates it. p53 tetramerization is a key step in its activation process and the regulation of this oligomerization, an important control point. The E3 ubiquitin ligase HERC2 controls the p53 transcriptional activity by regulation of its oligomerization state. HERC2-interacting proteins such as the adaptor-like protein with six neuralized domains NEURL4 are also candidates to regulate p53 activity. Here, we demonstrate the existence of an interaction network between NEURL4, HERC2 and p53 proteins. We report a functional interaction between NEURL4 and p53, involving the C-terminal region of p53 and the neuralized domains 3 and 4 of NEURL4. Through this interaction, NEURL4 regulates the transcriptional activity of p53. Thus, NEURL4 depletion reduced the transcriptional activity whereas NEURL4 overexpression increased it. In both cases, p53 stability was not affected. Although NEURL4 may interact with p53 independently of the E3 ubiquitin ligase HERC2, we observed that both proteins are needed to regulate the transcriptional activity of p53. Clonogenic assays confirmed the functional relevance of this interaction observing a decrease in cell growth by NEURL4 overexpression correlated to the increase of cellular cycle inhibitor p21 by p53 activation. Under these conditions, NEURL4 activated p53 oligomerization. All these findings identify NEURL4 as a novel regulator of the p53’s signaling.

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