Gene Summary

Gene:CUL4A; cullin 4A
Summary:CUL4A is the ubiquitin ligase component of a multimeric complex involved in the degradation of DNA damage-response proteins (Liu et al., 2009 [PubMed 19481525]).[supplied by OMIM, Oct 2009]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Source:NCBIAccessed: 11 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (14)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 11 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 11 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: CUL4A (cancer-related)

Ren W, Shen S, Sun Z, et al.
Jak-STAT3 pathway triggers DICER1 for proteasomal degradation by ubiquitin ligase complex of CUL4A(DCAF1) to promote colon cancer development.
Cancer Lett. 2016; 375(2):209-20 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chronic intestinal inflammation is closely associated with colon cancer development and STAT3 seems to take center stage in bridging chronic inflammation to colon cancer progress. Here, we discovered that DICER1 was significantly downregulated in response to IL-6 or LPS stimulation and identified a novel mechanism for DICER1 downregulation via proteasomal degradation by ubiquitin ligase complex of CUL4A(DCAF1) in colon cancer cells. Meanwhile, PI3K-AKT signaling pathway phosphorylated DICER1 and contributed to its proteasomal degradation. The regulation of DICER1 by CUL4A(DCAF1) affected cell growth and apoptosis which is controlled by IL-6 activated Jak-STAT3 pathway. Intervention of CUL4A(DCAF1) ubiquitin ligase complex led to fluctuation in expression levels of DICER1 and microRNAs, and thus affected tumor growth in a mouse xenograft model. A panel of microRNAs that were downregulated by IL-6 stimulation was rescued by siRNA-CUL4A, and their predicated functions are involved in regulation of cell proliferation, apoptosis and motility. Furthermore, clinical specimen analysis revealed that decreased DICER1 expression was negatively correlated with STAT3 activation and cancer progression in human colon cancers. DICER1 and p-STAT3 expression levels correlated with 5-year overall survival of colon cancer patients. Consequently, this study proposes that inflammation-induced Jak-STAT3 signaling leads to colon cancer development through proteasomal degradation of DICER1 by ubiquitin ligase complex of CUL4A(DCAF1), which suggests a novel therapeutic opportunity for colon cancer.

Deng J, Lei W, Xiang X, et al.
Cullin 4A (CUL4A), a direct target of miR-9 and miR-137, promotes gastric cancer proliferation and invasion by regulating the Hippo signaling pathway.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(9):10037-50 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Although Cullin 4A (CUL4A) is mutated or amplified in several human cancer types, its role in gastric cancer (GC) and the mechanisms underlying its regulation remain largely uncharacterized. In the present study, we report that the expression of CUL4A significantly correlated with the clinical stage of the tumor and lymph node metastasis, and survival rates were lower in GC patients with higher levels of CUL4A than in patients with lower CUL4A levels. The upregulation of CUL4A promoted GC cell proliferation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) by downregulating LATS1-Hippo-YAP signaling. Knocking down CUL4A had the opposite effect in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, CUL4A expression was inhibited by the microRNAs (miRNAs), miR-9 and miR-137, which directly targeted the 3'-UTR of CUL4A. Overexpression of miR-9 and miR-137 downregulated the CUL4A-LATS1-Hippo signaling pathway and suppressed GC cell proliferation and invasion in vitro. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that perturbations to miR-9/137-CUL4A-Hippo signaling contribute to gastric tumorigenesis, and suggest potential therapeutic targets for the future treatment of GC.

Li X, Xu R, Liu H, Fang K
CUL4A expression in pediatric osteosarcoma tissues and its effect on cell growth in osteosarcoma cells.
Tumour Biol. 2016; 37(6):8139-44 [PubMed] Related Publications
Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most common bone malignancy in the pediatric population, and it comprises about 3 % of all pediatric tumors. Aberrant expression of the Cullin 4A (CUL4A) is found in many tumor types, but the role of CUL4A in OS progression remains largely unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression and function of CUL4A in OS. CUL4A expression was detected in 30 samples of surgically resected OS and matched tumor-adjacent tissues using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and Western blot. Cell proliferation was assessed by MTT, and migration and invasion were analyzed by Transwell and Matrigel assays after CUL4A knockdown in OS in vitro. Our result showed increased CUL4A expression in OS tissues. CUL4A knockdown inhibited the proliferation of MG63 cells. Furthermore, CUL4A siRNA ameliorated the migration and invasion of MG63 cell lines with altered expression of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-associated molecules. Taken together, our findings indicate that CUL4A plays a pivotal role in OS progression and may serve as a potential marker for clinical diagnosis and target for therapy.

Liu TT, You HL, Weng SW, et al.
Recurrent Amplification at 13q34 Targets at CUL4A, IRS2, and TFDP1 As an Independent Adverse Prognosticator in Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(12):e0145388 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Amplification of genes at 13q34 has been reported to be associated with tumor proliferation and progression in diverse types of cancers. However, its role in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA) has yet to be explored. We examined two iCCA cell lines and 86 cases of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma to analyze copy number of three target genes, including cullin 4A (CUL4A), insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2), and transcription factor Dp-1 (TFDP1) at 13q34 by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. The cell lines and all tumor samples were used to test the relationship between copy number (CN) alterations and protein expression by western blotting and immunohistochemical assays, respectively. IRS2 was introduced, and each target gene was silenced in cell lines. The mobility potential of cells was compared in the basal condition and after manipulation using cell migration and invasion assays. CN alterations correlated with protein expression levels. The SNU1079 cell line containing deletions of the target genes demonstrated decreased protein expression levels and significantly lower numbers of migratory and invasive cells, as opposed to the RBE cell line, which does not contain CN alterations. Overexpression of IRS2 by introducing IRS2 in SUN1079 cells increased the mobility potential. In contrast, silencing each target gene showed a trend or statistical significance toward inhibition of migratory and invasive capacities in RBE cells. In tumor samples, the amplification of each of these genes was associated with poor disease-free survival. Twelve cases (13.9%) demonstrated copy numbers > 4 for all three genes tested (CUL4A, IRS2, and TFDP1), and showed a significant difference in disease-free survival by both univariate and multivariate survival analyses (hazard ratio, 2.69; 95% confidence interval, 1.23 to 5.88; P = 0.013). Our data demonstrate that amplification of genes at 13q34 plays an oncogenic role in iCCA featuring adverse disease-free survival, which may provide new directions for targeted therapy.

Pan Y, Wang B, Yang X, et al.
CUL4A facilitates hepatocarcinogenesis by promoting cell cycle progression and epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Sci Rep. 2015; 5:17006 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
CUL4A, a member of the CULLIN family, functions as a scaffold protein for an E3 ubiquitin ligase. It was reported that the CUL4A gene showed amplification in some human primary hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC). However, the exact role of CUL4A in HCC remains unknown. Here, we aimed to investigate the expression and function of CUL4A in HCC development. Through immunohistochemistry study, we showed increased CUL4A expression in HCC tissues. Statistical analysis disclosed an inverse correlation between CUL4A expression and tumor differentiation grade, and patient survival, but a positive correlation with hepatocyte proliferation as well as lymphatic and venous invasion. CUL4A expression in HCC tissues was associated with HBeAg status in patients and upregulated by HBV in HCC cell lines. Further functional assay showed that CUL4A overexpression significantly promoted growth of H22 tumor homografts in BALB/c mice. Consistently, CUL4A knockdown inhibited the proliferation of established HCC cells, accompanied by S-phase reduction and Cyclin A and Cyclin B1 repression. Furthermore, CUL4A siRNA ameliorated the motility of HCC cell lines with altered expression of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-associated molecules. Taken together, our findings indicate that CUL4A plays a pivotal role in HCC progression and may serve as a potential marker for clinical diagnosis and target for therapy.

Hung MS, Chen IC, You L, et al.
Knockdown of Cul4A increases chemosensitivity to gemcitabine through upregulation of TGFBI in lung cancer cells.
Oncol Rep. 2015; 34(6):3187-95 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cullin 4A (Cul4A) promotes oncogenesis through overexpression and then ubiquitination‑mediated proteolysis of tumor suppressors in various types of cancers. Transforming growth factor β‑induced (TGFBI) has been implicated as a tumor suppressor, which enhances gemcitabine chemosensitivity in lung cancer cells. The present study aimed to investigate the association of TGFBI and Cul4A and the mechanism by which Cul4A regulates TGFBI. In addition, we also evaluated the therapeutic value of Cul4A RNAi using adenoviral transfection of Cul4A RNAi in nude mouse xenograft models. We observed that knockdown of Cul4A was associated with increased sensitivity to gemcitabine through upregulation of TGFBI in lung cancer cells. Cul4A regulated TGFBI through direct interaction and then ubiquitin‑mediated protein degradation. In the nude mouse xenograft models, adenoviral transfection of Cul4A RNAi in combination with gemcitabine chemotherapy inhibited lung cancer tumor growth. As the result, combination of Cul4A RNAi with chemotherapy may provide a new approach to lung cancer treatment.

Chen P, Yao GD
The role of cullin proteins in gastric cancer.
Tumour Biol. 2016; 37(1):29-37 [PubMed] Related Publications
The cullin proteins are a family of scaffolding proteins that associate with RING proteins and ubiquitin E3 ligases and mediate substrate-receptor bindings. Thus, cullin proteins regulate the specificity of ubiquitin targeting in the regulation of proteins involved in various cellular processes, including proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. There are seven cullin proteins that have been identified in eukaryotes: CUL1, CUL2, CUL3, CUL4A, CUL4B, CUL5, and CUL7/p53-associated parkin-like cytoplasmic protein. All of these proteins contain a conserved cullin homology domain that binds to RING box proteins. Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligase complexes are activated upon post-translational modification by neural precursor cell-expressed, developmentally downregulated protein 8. The aberrant expression of several cullin proteins has been implicated in many cancers though the significance in gastric cancer has been less well investigated. This review provides the first systematic discussion of the associations between all members of the cullin protein family and gastric cancer. Functional and regulatory mechanisms of cullin proteins in gastric carcinoma progression are also summarized along with a discussion concerning future research areas. Accumulating evidence suggests a critical role of cullin proteins in tumorigenesis, and a better understanding of the function of these individual cullin proteins and their targets will help identify potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets.

Yang YL, Ni J, Hsu PC, et al.
Cul4A overexpression associated with Gli1 expression in malignant pleural mesothelioma.
J Cell Mol Med. 2015; 19(10):2385-96 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (mesothelioma) is a highly aggressive cancer without an effective treatment. Cul4A, a scaffold protein that recruits substrates for degradation, is amplified in several human cancers, including mesothelioma. We have recently shown that Cul4A plays an oncogenic role in vitro and in a mouse model. In this study, we analysed clinical mesothelioma tumours and found moderate to strong expression of Cul4A in 70.9% (51/72) of these tumours, as shown by immunohistochemistry. In 72.2% mesothelioma tumours with increased Cul4A copy number identified by fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis, Cul4A protein expression was moderate to strong. Similarly, Cul4A was overexpressed and Cul4A copy number was increased in human mesothelioma cell lines. Because Gli1 is highly expressed in human mesothelioma cells, we compared Cul4A and Gli1 expression in mesothelioma tumours and found their expression associated (P < 0.05, chi-square). In mesothelioma cell lines, inhibiting Cul4A by siRNA decreased Gli1 expression, suggesting that Gli1 expression is, at least in part, regulated by Cul4A in mesothelioma cells. Our results suggest a linkage between Cul4A and Gli1 expression in human mesothelioma.

Qiao S, Guo W, Liao L, et al.
DDB2 is involved in ubiquitination and degradation of PAQR3 and regulates tumorigenesis of gastric cancer cells.
Biochem J. 2015; 469(3):469-80 [PubMed] Related Publications
DDB2 (damage-specific DNA-binding protein 2) is the product of the xeroderma pigmentosum group E gene which is involved in the initiation of nucleotide excision repair via an ubiquitin ligase complex together with DDB1 and CUL4A (cullin 4A). PAQR3 (progestin and adipoQ receptor family member III) is a newly discovered tumour suppressor that is implicated in the development of many types of human cancers. In the present paper, we report that DDB2 is involved in ubiquitination and degradation of PAQR3. DDB2 is able to interact with PAQR3 in vivo and in vitro. Both overexpression and knockdown experiments reveal that the protein expression level, protein stability and polyubiquitination of PAQR3 are changed by DDB2. Negative regulation of EGF (epidermal growth factor)- and insulin-induced signalling by PAQR3 is also altered by DDB2. At the molecular level, Lys(61) of PAQR3 is targeted by DDB2 for ubiquitination. The cell proliferation rate and migration of gastric cancer cells are inhibited by DDB2 knockdown and such effects are abrogated by PAQR3 knockdown, indicating that the effect of DDB2 on the cancer cells is mediated by PAQR3. Collectively, our studies not only pinpoint that DDB2 is a post-translational regulator of PAQR3, but also indicate that DDB2 may play an active role in tumorigenesis via regulating PAQR3.

Liu G, Zhu Z, Lang F, et al.
Clinical significance of CUL4A in human prostate cancer.
Tumour Biol. 2015; 36(11):8553-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Aberrant expression of the Cullin 4A (CUL4A) is found in many tumor types, but the functions and mechanism of CUL4A in prostate cancer (PCa) development and progression remain largely unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible role of CUL4A in prostate tumorigenesis. Immunohistochemistry was used to examine CUL4A expression in human PCa tissues and BPH tissues. Cell proliferation was assessed by MTT, and migration and invasion were analyzed by Transwell and Matrigel assays after CUL4A knockdown in PCa in vitro. The results showed that CUL4A protein was overexpressed in 86.21 % of PCa tissues. CUL4A knockdown with siRNA in PCa cells decreased cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. Mechanistically, CUL4A could modulate the expression of P53 in PCa cells. Our results indicate that CUL4A overexpression play an oncogenic role in the pathogenesis of PCa, and CUL4A may be a potential therapeutic target for PCa.

Zhu YX, Braggio E, Shi CX, et al.
Identification of cereblon-binding proteins and relationship with response and survival after IMiDs in multiple myeloma.
Blood. 2014; 124(4):536-45 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cereblon (CRBN) mediates immunomodulatory drug (IMiD) action in multiple myeloma (MM). Using 2 different methodologies, we identified 244 CRBN binding proteins and established relevance to MM biology by changes in their abundance after exposure to lenalidomide. Proteins most reproducibly binding CRBN (>fourfold vs controls) included DDB1, CUL4A, IKZF1, KPNA2, LTF, PFKL, PRKAR2A, RANGAP1, and SHMT2. After lenalidomide treatment, the abundance of 46 CRBN binding proteins decreased. We focused attention on 2 of these-IKZF1 and IKZF3. IZKF expression is similar across all MM stages or subtypes; however, IKZF1 is substantially lower in 3 of 5 IMiD-resistant MM cell lines. The cell line (FR4) with the lowest IKZF1 levels also harbors a damaging mutation and a translocation that upregulates IRF4, an IKZF target. Clinical relevance of CRBN-binding proteins was demonstrated in 44 refractory MM patients treated with pomalidomide and dexamethasone therapy in whom low IKZF1 gene expression predicted lack of response (0/11 responses in the lowest expression quartile). CRBN, IKZF1, and KPNA2 levels also correlate with significant differences in overall survival. Our study identifies CRBN-binding proteins and demonstrates that in addition to CRBN, IKZF1, and KPNA2, expression can predict survival outcomes.

Saucedo-Cuevas LP, Ruppen I, Ximénez-Embún P, et al.
CUL4A contributes to the biology of basal-like breast tumors through modulation of cell growth and antitumor immune response.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(8):2330-43 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The CUL4A E3 ubiquitin ligase is involved in the regulation of many cellular processes and its amplification and/or overexpression has been observed in breast cancer. The 13q34 amplification, which is associated with the basal-like breast cancer subtype, has been proposed as one of the mechanism behind CUL4A up-regulation. However, the specific contribution of CUL4A to the biology of basal-like breast tumors has not yet been elucidated. In this work, by using cellular models of basal phenotype, we show the inhibitory effect of CUL4A silencing in the proliferation and growth of breast cancer cells both, in vitro and in vivo. We also demonstrate the transforming capacity of CUL4A exogenous overexpression in the 184B5 human mammary epithelial cells in vitro. Our results suggest a synergistic effect between CUL4A high levels and the activation of the RAS pathway in the tumorigenesis of basal-like breast cancer tumors. In addition, by using a proteomics approach we have defined novel candidate proteins and pathways that might mediate the oncogenic effect of CUL4A. In particular, we report a putative role of CUL4A in bypassing the immune system in breast cancer through the down-regulation of several molecules involved in the immune surveillance. These findings provide insight into the oncogenic properties of CUL4A in basal-like breast cancer and highlight the therapeutic opportunities to target CUL4A.

Yang YL, Hung MS, Wang Y, et al.
Lung tumourigenesis in a conditional Cul4A transgenic mouse model.
J Pathol. 2014; 233(2):113-23 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cullin4A (Cul4A) is a scaffold protein that assembles cullin-RING ubiquitin ligase (E3) complexes and regulates many cellular events, including cell survival, development, growth and cell cycle control. Our previous study suggested that Cul4A is oncogenic in vitro, but its oncogenic role in vivo has not been studied. Here, we used a Cul4A transgenic mouse model to study the potential oncogenic role of Cul4A in lung tumour development. After Cul4A over-expression was induced in the lungs for 32 weeks, atypical epithelial cells were observed. After 40 weeks, lung tumours were visible and were characterized as grade I or II adenocarcinomas. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) revealed decreased levels of Cul4A-associated proteins p21(CIP1) and tumour suppressor p19(ARF) in the lung tumours, suggesting that Cul4A regulated their expression in these tumours. Increased levels of p27(KIP1) and p16(INK4a) were also detected in these tumours. Moreover, the protein level of DNA replication licensing factor CDT1 was decreased. Genomic instability in the lung tumours was further analysed by the results from pericentrin protein expression and array comparative genomic hybridization analysis. Furthermore, knocking down Cul4A expression in lung cancer H2170 cells increased their sensitivity to the chemotherapy drug cisplatin in vitro, suggesting that Cul4A over-expression is associated with cisplatin resistance in the cancer cells. Our findings indicate that Cul4A is oncogenic in vivo, and this Cul4A mouse model is a tool in understanding the mechanisms of Cul4A in human cancers and for testing experimental therapies targeting Cul4A.

Xu Y, Wang Y, Ma G, et al.
CUL4A is overexpressed in human pituitary adenomas and regulates pituitary tumor cell proliferation.
J Neurooncol. 2014; 116(3):625-32 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cullin 4A (CUL4A) encodes a core subunit of an E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets proteins for ubiquitin-mediated degradation, and aberrant expression of the CUL4A is found in many tumor types. However, its roles and clinicopathologic significance in pituitary adenomas are not clear. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible role of CUL4A in pituitary tumorigenesis. Immunohistochemistry was used to examine CUL4A expression in human normal pituitaries and pituitary tumors with respect to various clinicopathologic factors in pituitary adenomas. Cell proliferation was assessed by MTT and colony formation, and migration and invasion were analyzed by Transwell and Matrigel assays after CUL4A overexpression or knockdown in pituitary tumor cells. Overexpression of CUL4A was frequently observed in pituitary adenomas compared with normal adenohypophysial tissue and significantly associated with tumor progressiveness and invasion. CUL4A overexpression in GH3 adenoma cells increased colony numbers, cell viability and cell invasion and silencing CUL4A in AtT20 adenoma cells decreased cell proliferation, migration and invasion. Mechanistically, CUL4A could modulate the expression of p53, p21, and p27 in pituitary tumor cells. In addition, high levels of CUL4A expression also significantly inversely correlated with the p53 protein level in human pituitary adenomas. Our results indicate that CUL4A enhances pituitary cell proliferation, migration and invasion and may thus contribute to pituitary tumor development and progression.

Wang Y, Ma G, Wang Q, et al.
Involvement of CUL4A in regulation of multidrug resistance to P-gp substrate drugs in breast cancer cells.
Molecules. 2013; 19(1):159-76 [PubMed] Related Publications
CUL4A encodes a core component of a cullin-based E3 ubiquitin ligase complex that regulates many critical processes such as cell cycle progression, DNA replication, DNA repair and chromatin remodeling by targeting a variety of proteins for ubiquitination and degradation. In the research described in this report we aimed to clarify whether CUL4A participates in multiple drug resistance (MDR) in breast cancer cells. We first transfected vectors carrying CUL4A and specific shCUL4A into breast cancer cells and corresponding Adr cells respectively. Using reverse transcription polymerase chain reactions and western blots, we found that overexpression of CUL4A in MCF7 and MDA-MB-468 cells up-regulated MDR1/P-gp expression on both the transcription and protein levels, which conferred multidrug resistance to P-gp substrate drugs, as determined by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assays. On the other hand, silencing CUL4A in MCF7/Adr and MDA-MB-468/Adr cells led to the opposite effect. Moreover, ERK1/2 in CUL4A-overexpressing cells was highly activated and after treatment with PD98059, an ERK1/2-specific inhibitor, CUL4A-induced expression of MDR1/P-gp was decreased significantly. Lastly, immunohistochemistry in breast cancer tissues showed that P-gp expression had a positive correlation with the expression of CUL4A and ERK1/2. Thus, these results implied that CUL4A and ERK1/2 participated in multi-drug resistance in breast cancer through regulation of MDR1/P-gp expression.

Wang Y, Wen M, Kwon Y, et al.
CUL4A induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition and promotes cancer metastasis by regulating ZEB1 expression.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(2):520-31 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The ubiquitin ligase CUL4A has been implicated in tumorigenesis, but its contributions to progression and metastasis have not been evaluated. Here, we show that CUL4A is elevated in breast cancer as well as in ovarian, gastric, and colorectal tumors in which its expression level correlates positively with distant metastasis. CUL4A overexpression in normal or malignant human mammary epithelial cells increased their neoplastic properties in vitro and in vivo, markedly increasing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and the metastatic capacity of malignant cells. In contrast, silencing CUL4A in aggressive breast cancer cells inhibited these processes. Mechanistically, we found that CUL4A modulated histone H3K4me3 at the promoter of the EMT regulatory gene ZEB1 in a manner associated with its transcription. ZEB1 silencing blocked CUL4A-driven proliferation, EMT, tumorigenesis, and metastasis. Furthermore, in human breast cancers, ZEB1 expression correlated positively with CUL4A expression and distant metastasis. Taken together, our findings reveal a pivotal role of CUL4A in regulating the metastatic behavior of breast cancer cells.

Kim TY, Jackson S, Xiong Y, et al.
CRL4A-FBXW5-mediated degradation of DLC1 Rho GTPase-activating protein tumor suppressor promotes non-small cell lung cancer cell growth.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013; 110(42):16868-73 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
DLC1 encodes a RhoA GTPase-activating protein and tumor suppressor lost in cancer by genomic deletion or epigenetic silencing and loss of DLC1 gene transcription. We unexpectedly identified non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines and tumor tissue that expressed DLC1 mRNA yet lacked DLC1 protein expression. We determined that DLC1 was ubiquitinated and degraded by cullin 4A-RING ubiquitin ligase (CRL4A) complex interaction with DDB1 and the FBXW5 substrate receptor. siRNA-mediated suppression of cullin 4A, DDB1, or FBXW5 expression restored DLC1 protein expression in NSCLC cell lines. FBXW5 suppression-induced DLC1 reexpression was associated with a reduction in the levels of activated RhoA-GTP and in RhoA effector signaling. Finally, FBXW5 suppression caused a DLC1-dependent decrease in NSCLC anchorage-dependent and -independent proliferation. In summary, we identify a posttranslational mechanism for loss of DLC1 and a linkage between CRL4A-FBXW5-associated oncogenesis and regulation of RhoA signaling.

Pan WW, Zhou JJ, Yu C, et al.
Ubiquitin E3 ligase CRL4(CDT2/DCAF2) as a potential chemotherapeutic target for ovarian surface epithelial cancer.
J Biol Chem. 2013; 288(41):29680-91 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs) are the largest family of E3 ligases and require cullin neddylation for their activation. The NEDD8-activating enzyme inhibitor MLN4924 reportedly blocked cullin neddylation and inactivated CRLs, which resulted in apoptosis induction and tumor suppression. However, CRL roles in ovarian cancer cell survival and the ovarian tumor repressing effects of MLN4924 are unknown. We show here that CRL4 components are highly expressed in human epithelial ovarian cancer tissues. MLN4924-induced DNA damage, cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. In addition, MLN4924 sensitized ovarian cancer cells to other chemotherapeutic drug treatments. Depletion of CRL4 components Roc1/2, Cul4a, and DDB1 had inhibitory effects on ovarian cancer cells similar to MLN4924 treatment, which suggested that CRL4 inhibition contributed to the chemotherapeutic effect of MLN4924 in ovarian cancers. We also investigated for key CRL4 substrate adaptors required for ovarian cancer cells. Depleting Vprbp/Dcaf1 did not significantly affect ovarian cancer cell growth, even though it was expressed by ovarian cancer tissues. However, depleting Cdt2/Dcaf2 mimicked the pharmacological effects of MLN4924 and caused the accumulation of its substrate, CDT1, both in vitro and in vivo. MLN4924-induced DNA damage and apoptosis were partially rescued by Cdt1 depletion, suggesting that CRL4(CDT2) repression and CDT1 accumulation were key biochemical events contributing to the genotoxic effects of MLN4924 in ovarian cancer cells. Taken together, these results indicate that CRL4(CDT2) is a potential drug target in ovarian cancers and that MLN4924 may be an effective anticancer agent for targeted ovarian cancer therapy.

Hannah J, Zhou PB
The CUL4A ubiquitin ligase is a potential therapeutic target in skin cancer and other malignancies.
Chin J Cancer. 2013; 32(9):478-82 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cullin 4A (CUL4A) is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that directly affects DNA repair and cell cycle progression by targeting substrates including damage-specific DNA-binding protein 2 (DDB2), xeroderma pigmentosum complementation group C (XPC), chromatin licensing and DNA replication factor 1 (Cdt1), and p21. Recent work from our laboratory has shown that Cul4a-deficient mice have greatly reduced rates of ultraviolet-induced skin carcinomas. On a cellular level, Cul4a-deficient cells have great capacity for DNA repair and demonstrate a slow rate of proliferation due primarily to increased expression of DDB2 and p21, respectively. This suggests that CUL4A promotes tumorigenesis (as well as accumulation of skin damage and subsequent premature aging) by limiting DNA repair activity and expediting S phase entry. In addition, CUL4A has been found to be up-regulated via gene amplification or overexpression in breast cancers, hepatocellular carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, adrenocortical carcinomas, childhood medulloblastomas, and malignant pleural mesotheliomas. Because of its oncogenic activity in skin cancer and up-regulation in other malignancies, CUL4A has arisen as a potential candidate for targeted therapeutic approaches. In this review, we outline the established functions of CUL4A and discuss the E3 ligase's emergence as a potential driver of tumorigenesis.

García MJ, Saucedo-Cuevas LP, Muñoz-Repeto I, et al.
Analysis of DNA repair-related genes in breast cancer reveals CUL4A ubiquitin ligase as a novel biomarker of trabectedin response.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2013; 12(4):530-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
Trabectedin is more active in nucleotide excision repair (NER)-efficient and homologous recombination repair (HRR)-deficient cells. As up to 25% of sporadic breast tumors present somatic inactivation of the HRR pathway (BRCAness phenotype), we sought to characterize trabectedin effect in BRCA1-proficient and BRCA1-null breast cancer cell lines. We evaluated whether HRR and NER gene expression correlates with trabectedin sensitivity and explored the response predictive value of the CUL4A ubiquitin ligase, which ubiquitinates NER pathway members. We characterized trabectedin cytotoxicity, cell-cycle effects, and BRCA1, BRCA2, XRCC3, XPG, ERCC1, and CUL4A expression in 10 breast cancer cell lines. Gene expression and trabectedin sensitivity association were determined in cell lines. Survival assays after trabectedin treatment were conducted in CUL4A-silenced BRCA1-proficient and -deficient cells. Because of limited phase II clinical trials evaluating trabectedin efficacy in patients with breast cancer, we assessed CUL4A immunohistochemical staining in a retrospective series of 118 sarcomas from trabectedin-treated patients to validate in vivo our in vitro observations. In cell lines, greater trabectedin sensitivity was associated with higher CUL4A expression and lower BRCA1/ERCC5, BRCA1/CUL4A, and XRCC3/CUL4A expression ratios. In agreement, BRCA1-deficient CUL4A-knockdown cells presented higher cell survival after trabectedin exposure than did scramble control cells. Lack of effect in BRCA1-proficient cells suggests that HRR impairment is key in CUL4A-mediated trabectedin sensitivity. High CUL4A expression in nontranslocation-related patients with sarcoma predicted improved progression-free survival [PFS; HR, 0.37; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.20-0.68, P = 0.001] and overall survival (OS; HR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.21-0.93, P = 0.026). Our observations support the notion of greater trabectedin activity in tumors exhibiting BRCAness and reveal CUL4A as a potential biomarker for definition of trabectedin target patients.

Roy N, Bagchi S, Raychaudhuri P
Damaged DNA binding protein 2 in reactive oxygen species (ROS) regulation and premature senescence.
Int J Mol Sci. 2012; 13(9):11012-26 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Premature senescence induced by DNA damage or oncogene is a critical mechanism of tumor suppression. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in the induction of premature senescence response. Several pathological disorders such as cancer, aging and age related neurological abnormalities have been linked to ROS deregulation. Here, we discuss how Damaged DNA binding Protein-2 (DDB2), a nucleotide excision repair protein, plays an important role in ROS regulation by epigenetically repressing the antioxidant genes MnSOD and Catalase. We further revisit a model in which DDB2 plays an instrumental role in DNA damage induced ROS accumulation, ROS induced premature senescence and inhibition of skin tumorigenesis.

Malatesta M, Peschiaroli A, Memmi EM, et al.
The Cul4A-DDB1 E3 ubiquitin ligase complex represses p73 transcriptional activity.
Oncogene. 2013; 32(39):4721-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Cullin4A (cul4A)-dependent ligase (CDL4A) E3 has been implicated in a variety of biological processes, including cell cycle progression and DNA damage response. Remarkably, CDL4A exerts its function through both proteolytic and non-proteolytic events. Here, we show that the p53 family member p73 is able to interact with the CDL4A complex through its direct binding to the receptor subunit DNA-binding protein 1 (DDB1). As a result, the CDL4A complex is able to monoubiquitylate p73. Modification of p73 by CDL4A-mediated ubiquitylation does not affect p73 protein stability, but negatively regulates p73-dependent transcriptional activity. Indeed, genetic or RNA interference-mediated depletion of DDB1 induces the expression of several p73 target genes in a p53-independent manner. In addition, by exploiting a bioinformatic approach, we found that elevated expression of Cul4A in human breast carcinomas is associated with repression of p73 target genes. In conclusion, our findings add a novel insight into the regulation of p73 by the CDL4A complex, through the inhibition of its transcriptional function.

Chang SW, Su CH, Chen HH, et al.
DDB2 is a novel AR interacting protein and mediates AR ubiquitination/degradation.
Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2012; 44(11):1952-61 [PubMed] Related Publications
Damaged DNA-binding protein 2 (DDB2), a protein that binds damaged DNA, is a DDB1 and CUL4-associated factor. This study is the first to demonstrate that DDB2 is a novel androgen receptor (AR)-interacting protein; and mediating contact with AR and CUL4A-DDB1 complex for AR ubiquitination/degradation. DNA damage induces both p53 and DDB2 gene expression those two can inhibit AR expression. The former reduces AR via transcription regulation but the latter via proteosome degradation. Thereby DDB2 can inhibit cell growth rate in AR-expressing cells (LNCaP) but not in AR-null cells (PC3). Hence DDB2 may be a potential regimen for prostate cancer treatment, especially in androgen-refractory patients harboring high amount of AR who cannot be cured by androgen ablation.

Hoverter NP, Ting JH, Sundaresh S, et al.
A WNT/p21 circuit directed by the C-clamp, a sequence-specific DNA binding domain in TCFs.
Mol Cell Biol. 2012; 32(18):3648-62 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The lymphoid enhancer factor 1/T cell factor (LEF/TCF) family of transcription factors are downstream effectors of the WNT signaling pathway, which drives colon tumorigenesis. LEF/TCFs have a DNA sequence-specific high-mobility group (HMG) box that binds Wnt response elements (WREs). The "E tail" isoforms of TCFs are alternatively spliced to include a second DNA binding domain called the C-clamp. We show that induction of a dominant negative C-clamp version of TCF1 (dnTCF1E) induces p21 expression and a stall in the growth of DLD1 colon cancer cells. Induction of a C-clamp mutant did not efficiently induce p21, nor did it stall cell growth. Microarray analysis revealed that induction of p21 by wild-type dnTCF1E (dnTCF1E(WT)) correlated with a decrease in expression of multiple p21 suppressors that act at multiple levels from transcription (SP5, YAP1, and RUNX1), RNA stability (MSI2), and protein stability (CUL4A). We show that the C-clamp is a sequence-specific DNA binding domain that can make contacts with 5'-RCCG-3' elements upstream or downstream of WREs. The C-clamp-RCCG interaction was critical for TCF1E-mediated transcriptional control of p21-connected target gene promoters. Our results indicate that a rapid-response WNT/p21 circuit is driven by C-clamp target gene selection.

Ren S, Xu C, Cui Z, et al.
Oncogenic CUL4A determines the response to thalidomide treatment in prostate cancer.
J Mol Med (Berl). 2012; 90(10):1121-32 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Thalidomide is experimentally used to treat various human cancers; however, clinical responses to thalidomide are sporadic. Here we demonstrate that CUL4A plays an oncogenic role in prostate cancer development and prostate cancer cells with higher level of CUL4A are particularly sensitive to thalidomide treatment. We show that CUL4A is frequently overexpressed in human primary prostate cancer and cell lines. Notably, subjects with tumors that highly expressed CUL4A had poor overall survival. CUL4A downregulation inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in vitro and in vivo, whereas CUL4A overexpression transformed human normal prostate epithelial cells and promoted invasion, which was attenuated by the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) inhibitor. We further show that the sensitivity to thalidomide is positively correlated with CUL4A expression in a panel of prostate cell lines. Ectopic CUL4A expression greatly enhanced sensitivity to thalidomide, while its downregulation conferred resistance to this drug. Mechanistically, thalidomide decreased CUL4A in a time- and dose-dependent manner, consequently leading to inaction of ERK pathway. Finally, we show that cereblon level is correlated with CUL4A expression and downregulated in thalidomide-resistant prostate cancer cell. Our results offer the first evidence that CUL4A is a potential therapeutic target for prostate cancer and may serve as a biomarker for assessing prognosis of human prostate cancer and response to thalidomide treatment.

Shamay M, Greenway M, Liao G, et al.
De novo DNA methyltransferase DNMT3b interacts with NEDD8-modified proteins.
J Biol Chem. 2010; 285(47):36377-86 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
DNA methylation and histone modifications play an important role in transcription regulation. In cancer cells, many promoters become aberrantly methylated through the activity of the de novo DNA methyltransferases DNMT3a and DNMT3b and acquire repressive chromatin marks. NEDD8 is a ubiquitin-like protein modifier that is conjugated to target proteins, such as cullins, to regulate their activity, and cullin 4A (CUL4A) in its NEDD8-modified form is essential for repressive chromatin formation. We found that DNMT3b associates with NEDD8-modified proteins. Whereas DNMT3b interacts directly in vitro with NEDD8, conjugation of NEDD8 to target proteins enhances this interaction in vivo. DNMT3b immunoprecipitated two major bands of endogenously NEDDylated proteins at the size of NEDDylated cullins, and indeed DNMT3b interacted with CUL1, CUL2, CUL3, CUL4A, and CUL5. Moreover, DNMT3b preferentially immunoprecipitated the NEDDylated form of endogenous CUL4A. NEDD8 enhanced DNMT3b-dependent DNA methylation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays suggest that DNMT3b recruits CUL4A and NEDD8 to chromatin, whereas deletion of Dnmt3b reduces the association of CUL4A and NEDD8 at a repressed promoter in a cancer cell line.

Hartmann EM, Campo E, Wright G, et al.
Pathway discovery in mantle cell lymphoma by integrated analysis of high-resolution gene expression and copy number profiling.
Blood. 2010; 116(6):953-61 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The genome of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is, in addition to the translocation t(11;14), characterized by a high number of secondary chromosomal gains and losses that probably account for the various survival times of MCL patients. We investigated 77 primary MCL tumors with available clinical information using high-resolution RNA expression and genomic profiling and applied our recently developed gene expression and dosage integrator algorithm to identify novel genes and pathways that may be of relevance for the pathobiology of MCL. We show that copy number neutral loss of heterozygosity is common in MCL and targets regions that are frequently affected by deletions. The molecular consequences of genomic copy number changes appear complex, even in genomic loci with identified tumor suppressors, such as the region 9p21 containing the CDKN2A locus. Moreover, the deregulation of novel genes, such as CUL4A, ING1, and MCPH1, may affect the 2 crucial pathogenetic mechanisms in MCL, the disturbance of the proliferation, and DNA damage response pathways. Deregulation of the Hippo pathway may have a pathogenetic role in MCL because decreased expression of its members MOBKL2A, MOBKL2B, and LATS2 was associated with inferior outcome, including an independent validation series of 32 MCLs.

Kerzendorfer C, Whibley A, Carpenter G, et al.
Mutations in Cullin 4B result in a human syndrome associated with increased camptothecin-induced topoisomerase I-dependent DNA breaks.
Hum Mol Genet. 2010; 19(7):1324-34 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
CUL4A and B encode subunits of E3-ubiquitin ligases implicated in diverse processes including nucleotide excision repair, regulating gene expression and controlling DNA replication fork licensing. But, the functional distinction between CUL4A and CUL4B, if any, is unclear. Recently, mutations in CUL4B were identified in humans associated with mental retardation, relative macrocephaly, tremor and a peripheral neuropathy. Cells from these patients offer a unique system to help define at the molecular level the consequences of defective CUL4B specifically. We show that these patient-derived cells exhibit sensitivity to camptothecin (CPT), impaired CPT-induced topoisomerase I (Topo I) degradation and ubiquitination, thereby suggesting Topo I to be a novel Cul4-dependent substrate. Consistent with this, we also find that these cells exhibit increased levels of CPT-induced DNA breaks. Furthermore, over-expression of known CUL4-dependent substrates including Cdt1 and p21 appear to be a feature of these patient-derived cells. Collectively, our findings highlight the interplay between CUL4A and CUL4B and provide insight into the pathogenesis of CUL4B-deficiency in humans.

Melchor L, Saucedo-Cuevas LP, Muñoz-Repeto I, et al.
Comprehensive characterization of the DNA amplification at 13q34 in human breast cancer reveals TFDP1 and CUL4A as likely candidate target genes.
Breast Cancer Res. 2009; 11(6):R86 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Breast cancer subtypes exhibit different genomic aberration patterns with a tendency for high-level amplifications in distinct chromosomal regions. These genomic aberrations may drive carcinogenesis through the upregulation of proto-oncogenes. We have characterized DNA amplification at the human chromosomal region 13q34 in breast cancer.
METHODS: A set of 414 familial and sporadic breast cancer cases was studied for amplification at region 13q34 by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis on tissue microarrays. Defining the minimal common region of amplification in those cases with amplification at 13q34 was carried out using an array-based comparative genomic hybridization platform. We performed a quantitative real-time - polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) gene expression analysis of 11 candidate genes located within the minimal common region of amplification. Protein expression levels of two of these genes (TFDP1 and CUL4A) were assessed by immunohistochemical assays on the same tissue microarrays used for FISH studies, and correlated with the expression of a panel of 33 antibodies previously analyzed.
RESULTS: We have found 13q34 amplification in 4.5% of breast cancer samples, but the frequency increased to 8.1% in BRCA1-associated tumors and to 20% in basal-like tumors. Tumors with 13q34 amplification were associated with high grade, estrogen receptor negativity, and expression of EGFR, CCNE, CK5, and P-Cadherin, among other basal cell markers. We have defined a 1.83 megabases minimal common region of genomic amplification and carried out mRNA expression analyses of candidate genes located therein, identifying CUL4A and TFDP1 as the most likely target genes. Moreover, we have confirmed that tumors with 13q34 amplification significantly overexpress CUL4A and TFDP1 proteins. Tumors overexpressing either CUL4A or TFDP1 were associated with tumor proliferation and cell cycle progression markers.
CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that 13q34 amplification may be of relevance in tumor progression of basal-like breast cancers by inducing overexpression of CUL4A and TFDP1, which are both important in cell cycle regulation. Alternatively, as these genes were also overexpressed in non-basal-like tumor samples, they could play a wider role in cancer development by inducing tumor proliferation.

Hung MS, Mao JH, Xu Z, et al.
Cul4A is an oncogene in malignant pleural mesothelioma.
J Cell Mol Med. 2011; 15(2):350-8 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cullin 4A (Cul4A) is important in cell survival, development, growth and the cell cycle, but its role in mesothelioma has not been studied. For the first time, we identified amplification of the Cul4A gene in four of five mesothelioma cell lines. Consistent with increased Cul4A gene copy number, we found that Cul4A protein was overexpressed in mesothelioma cells as well. Cul4A protein was also overexpressed in 64% of primary malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) tumours. Furthermore, knockdown of Cul4A with shRNA in mesothelioma cells resulted in up-regulation of p21 and p27 tumour suppressor proteins in a p53-independent manner in H290, H28 and MS-1 mesothelioma cell lines. Knockdown of Cul4A also resulted in G0/G1 cell cycle arrest and decreased colony formation in H290, H28 and MS-1 mesothelioma cell lines. Moreover, G0/G1 cell cycle arrest was partially reversed by siRNA down-regulation of p21 and/or p27 in Cul4A knockdown H290 cell line. In the contrary, overexpression of Cul4A resulted in down-regulation of p21 and p27 proteins and increased colony formation in H28 mesothelioma cell line. Both p21 and p27 showed faster degradation rates in Cul4A overexpressed H28 cell line and slower degradation rates in Cul4A knockdown H28 cell line. Our study indicates that Cul4A amplification and overexpression play an oncogenic role in the pathogenesis of mesothelioma. Thus, Cul4A may be a potential therapeutic target for MPM.

Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes only; it can not be used in diagnosis or treatment.

Cite this page: Cotterill SJ. CUL4A, Cancer Genetics Web: Accessed:

Creative Commons License
This page in Cancer Genetics Web by Simon Cotterill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Note: content of abstracts copyright of respective publishers - seek permission where appropriate.

 [Home]    Page last revised: 11 March, 2017     Cancer Genetics Web, Established 1999