Research Papers:

Deubiquitinating enzyme Usp12 regulates the interaction between the androgen receptor and the Akt pathway

Urszula L. McClurg _, Emma E. Summerscales, Victoria J. Harle, Luke Gaughan and Craig N. Robson

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:7081-7092. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2162

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Urszula L. McClurg, Emma E. Summerscales, Victoria J. Harle, Luke Gaughan, Craig N. Robson

Solid Tumour Target Discovery Laboratory, Newcastle Cancer Centre, Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Medical School, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK

Correspondence to:

Dr. Craig N. Robson, e-mail: [email protected]

Key words: Androgen Receptor, Usp12, prostate cancer, Uaf-1, WDR20, PHLPP, PHLPPL, Akt

Received: April 28, 2014     Accepted: June 23, 2014     Published: July 08, 2014


The androgen receptor (AR) is a transcription factor involved in prostate cell growth, homeostasis and transformation regulated by post-translational modifications, including ubiquitination. We have recently reported that AR is deubiquitinated and stabilised by Usp12 resulting in increased transcriptional activity. In this study we have investigated the relationship between Usp12, PHLPP and PHLPPL tumour suppressors in the regulation of AR transcriptional activity in prostate cancer (PC). PHLPP and PHLPPL are pro-apoptotic phosphatases that dephosphorylate and subsequently deactivate Akt. Phosphorylated Akt is reported to deactivate AR in PC by phosphorylation at Ser213 and Ser791 leading to ligand dissociation and AR degradation. In contrast, PHLPP- and PHLPPL-mediated dephosphorylation and inactivation of Akt elevates the levels of active AR. In this report we demonstrate that Usp12, in complex with Uaf-1 and WDR20, directly deubiquitinates and stabilises the Akt phosphatases PHLPP and PHLPPL resulting in decreased levels of active pAkt. Decreased pAkt in turn down-regulates AR Ser213 phosphorylation resulting in enhanced receptor stability and transcriptional activity. Additionally, we observe that depleting Usp12 sensitises PC cells to therapies aimed at Akt inhibition irrespectively of their sensitivity to androgen ablation therapy. We propose that Usp12 inhibition could offer a therapeutic alternative for castration resistant prostate cancer.

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