Research Papers:

The E3 ubiquitin ligase HERC1 controls the ERK signaling pathway targeting C-RAF for degradation

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

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:31531-31548. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25847

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Taiane Schneider1, Arturo Martinez-Martinez1, Monica Cubillos-Rojas1, Ramon Bartrons1, Francesc Ventura1 and Jose Luis Rosa1

1Departament de Ciències Fisiològiques, IDIBELL, Campus Bellvitge, Universitat de Barcelona, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain

Correspondence to:

Jose Luis Rosa, email: [email protected]

Keywords: ubiquitin; ERK; RAF; proliferation; protein degradation

Received: September 08, 2017    Accepted: July 12, 2018    Published: July 31, 2018


The RAF/MEK/ERK cascade is a conserved intracellular signaling pathway that controls fundamental cellular processes including growth, proliferation, differentiation, survival and migration. Aberrant regulation of this signaling pathway has long been associated with human cancers. A major point of regulation of this pathway occurs at the level of the serine/threonine protein kinase C-RAF. Here, we show how the E3 ubiquitin ligase HERC1 regulates ERK signaling. HERC1 knockdown induced cellular proliferation, which is associated with an increase in ERK phosphorylation and in C-RAF protein levels. We demonstrate that overexpression of wild-type C-RAF is sufficient to increase ERK phosphorylation. Experiments with pharmacological inhibitors of RAF activity, or with interference RNA, show that the regulation of ERK phosphorylation by HERC1 is RAF-dependent. Immunoprecipitation, pull-down and confocal fluorescence microscopy experiments demonstrate an interaction between HERC1 and C-RAF proteins. Mechanistically, HERC1 controls C-RAF stability by regulating its polyubiquitylation in a lysine 48-linked chain. In vitro ubiquitylation assays indicate that C-RAF is a substrate of the E3 ubiquitin ligase HERC1. Altogether, we show how HERC1 can regulate cell proliferation through the activation of ERK signaling by a mechanism that affects C-RAF’s stability.

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PII: 25847