Research Papers:

Cancer/testis antigen PIWIL2 suppresses circadian rhythms by regulating the stability and activity of BMAL1 and CLOCK

Yilu Lu, Xulei Zheng, Wei Hu, Shasha Bian, Zhiwei Zhang, Dachang Tao, Yunqiang Liu and Yongxin Ma _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:54913-54924. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18973

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Yilu Lu1,*, Xulei Zheng1,*, Wei Hu1,*, Shasha Bian1, Zhiwei Zhang1, Dachang Tao1, Yunqiang Liu1 and Yongxin Ma1

1Department of Medical Genetics, State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan 610041, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Yongxin Ma, email: [email protected]

Keywords: circadian clock, PIWIL2, GSK3β, ubiquitination

Received: February 06, 2017     Accepted: June 18, 2017     Published: July 04, 2017


Circadian rhythms are regulated by transcriptional and post-translational feedback loops generated by appropriate functions of clock proteins. Rhythmic degradation of the circadian clock proteins is critical for maintenance of the circadian oscillations. Notably, circadian clock does not work during spermatogenesis and can be disrupted in tumors. However, the underlying mechanism that suppresses circadian rhythms in germ cells and cancer cells remains largely unknown. Here we report that the cancer/testis antigen PIWIL2 can repress circadian rhythms both in the testis and cancer cells. By facilitating SRC binding with PI3K, PIWIL2 activates the PI3K-AKT pathway to phosphorylate and deactivate GSK3β, suppressing GSK3β-induced phosphorylation and degradation of circadian protein BMAL1 and CLOCK. Meanwhile, PIWIL2 can bind with E-Box sequences associated with the BMAL1/CLOCK complex to negatively regulate the transcriptional activation activity of promoters of clock-controlled genes. Taken together, our results first described a function for the germline-specific protein PIWIL2 in regulation of the circadian clock, providing a molecular link between spermatogenesis as well as tumorigenesis to the dysfunction of circadian rhythms.

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PII: 18973