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:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Source:NCBIAccessed: 31 August, 2019


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

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 31 August 2019 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.

  • Signal Transduction
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Breast Cancer
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Tumor Burden
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
  • Young Adult
  • Estrogen Receptors
  • Cullin Proteins
  • DNA Damage
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • RNA Interference
  • Cell Cycle
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • Cell Proliferation
  • DNA Repair
  • Gene Amplification
  • Zinc Finger Protein GLI1
  • siRNA
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Lung Cancer
  • Cell Movement
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription
  • Apoptosis
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Transcriptome
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Dosage
  • Chromosome 13
  • Skin Cancer
Tag cloud generated 31 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

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)

Ye H, Yang Q, Qi S, Li H
PHF8 Plays an Oncogene Function in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Formation.
Oncol Res. 2019; 27(5):613-621 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has high morbidity and mortality rates, and the number of new cases and deaths from liver cancer are increasing. However, the details of the regulation in HCC remain largely unknown. Plant homeodomain finger protein 8 (PHF8) is a JmjC domain-containing protein. Recently, PHF8 was reported to participate in several types of cancer. However, the biological function and clinical significance of PHF8 in HCC remain unknown. In this study, we investigate the role of PHF8 in HCC growth and metastasis. We used bioinformatics analysis and identified the differentially expressed PHF8 in primary HCC and metastasis HCC. Immunohistochemistry analysis demonstrated that PHF8 was expressed higher in human HCC tissues than in corresponding adjacent noncancerous tissues. Silencing PHF8 in HCC cells significantly decreased the cells' ability of proliferation, migration, invasion, and sphere formation. On the contrary, overexpression of PHF8 promoted these properties. In addition, the analysis in vivo showed that PHF8 overexpression promoted tumor formation and metastasis in nude mice. In the end, the RNA-sequence assay showed that CUL4A is upregulated by the PHF8. Taken together, these results demonstrated that PHF8 was a novel oncogene in HCC, which may contribute to therapeutic approaches aimed at targeting components of the PHF8 and provide new insights into the mechanisms governing the developmental programs in HCC.

Li C, Bu J, Liao Y, et al.
High Expressions of CUL4A and TP53 in Colorectal Cancer Predict Poor Survival.
Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018; 51(6):2829-2842 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Cullin 4A (CUL4A) is vital in cell survival, development, growth and cell cycle, it plays an important role in chaperone-mediated ubiquitination and interacts with TP53 in carcinogenesis. However, the clinicopathologic significance of CUL4A expression in colorectal cancer is unknown; in particular, the prognostic value of CUL4A combined with TP53 expression has not been explored.
METHODS: We analyzed the expression of CUL4A in both public database (Oncomine) and 180 cases of colorectal cancer and paired normal tissues by real-time polymerase chain reaction and western blotting. Colony formation, wound healing, migration and invasion assays and tumorigenesis in nude mice were used to explore the function of CUL4A in CRC proliferation and metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Markers of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) were evaluated by western blotting. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was used to analyse the relationship between CUL4A expression and E-cadherin expression.
RESULTS: CUL4A and TP53 protein expression was significantly higher in cancerous tissues compared to normal tissues. Significant correlation between CUL4A and TP53 expression was observed. CUL4A expression was an independent prognostic factor for overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS). Interestingly, patients with tumors that had both CUL4A overexpression and mutant TP53 protein accumulation relapsed and died within a significantly short period after surgery (P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that patients with both CUL4A+ and TP53+ positive tumors had extremely poor OS and DFS. Knockdown of CUL4A by a short interfering RNA (siRNA) significantly suppressed the progression of EMT, proliferation, migration, and invasion of colon cancer cells in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. ZEB1 silencing blocked CUL4A-driven these processes.
CONCLUSION: CUL4A expression correlated positively with the prognosis of colorectal cancer. Mechanistically, ZEB1 was confirmed to mediate the function of CUL4A in regulating the EMT. The assessment of both CUL4A and mutant TP53 expression will be helpful in predicting colon cancer prognosis.

Yu R, Cai L, Chi Y, et al.
miR‑377 targets CUL4A and regulates metastatic capability in ovarian cancer.
Int J Mol Med. 2018; 41(6):3147-3156 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The incidence and recurrence rates of ovarian cancer are still high, and once the disease metastasizes, it is nearly always fatal. Cullin 4A (CUL4A) serves a significant role in tumourigenesis and tumour progression; however, the effect and mechanisms underlying CUL4A overexpression are still unknown. The role of microRNAs (miRs) in the regulation of metastatic capability in ovarian cancer cell lines was investigated. The interaction between miR‑377 and CUL4A was investigated using bioinformatics analyses and dual‑luciferase reporter assays. Furthermore, miR‑377 mRNA and protein levels were detected using reverse transcription‑quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blotting, respectively and cell migration and invasion were detected using a Transwell assay. Results revealed that CUL4A expression was negatively associated with miR‑377 levels in ovarian cancer tissues and cell lines. Through in silico analysis, the targeting effect of miR‑377 on CUL4A was verified. Ectopic expression of miR‑377 in SKOV3 cells downregulated the level of CUL4A, and significantly reduced the migratory ability of the cells. miR‑377 overexpression led to reduced activity of the Wnt/β‑catenin signaling pathway, and regulated the expression of matrix metalloproteinase‑2, and 9, and epithelial‑mesenchymal transition (EMT)‑associated protein. These results suggested that miR‑377 is a significant negative regulator of CUL4A that controls cancer cell progression in ovarian cancer cell lines.

Wang Y, Liu X, Zheng H, et al.
Suppression of CUL4A attenuates TGF-β1-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in breast cancer cells.
Int J Mol Med. 2017; 40(4):1114-1124 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) plays a vital role in the process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in breast cancer and the cullin 4A (CUL4A) gene is overexpressed in primary breast cancer. However, whether TGF-β1 signaling can induce CUL4A expression has not been investigated to date, at least to the best of our knowledge. In this study, using breast cancer cell lines, we found that the CUL4A expression level was increased following EMT induced by TGF-β1. Silencing CUL4A expression or CUL4A inhibition by thalidomide suppressed the EMT process induced by TGF-β1. We also found that CUL4A was associated with the expression of zinc finger E-box-binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) which was induced by TGF-β1. These results suggest that CUL4A is upregulated in TGF-β1-induced EMT, and has a regulatory function in this process. The identification of CUL4A as a downstream target of TGF-β1 represents a critical pro-survival mechanism in breast cancer progression and provides another point for therapeutic intervention in breast cancer.

Yang Y, Wang S, Li J, et al.
CUL4A as a marker and potential therapeutic target in multiple myeloma.
Tumour Biol. 2017; 39(7):1010428317703923 [PubMed] Related Publications
Multiple myeloma is the most common cause of death of hematological malignancy worldwide. Cullin 4A has been proposed as oncogene in several types of human cancer, but the expression and function of cullin 4A in multiple myeloma remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that cullin 4A plays an oncogenic role in multiple myeloma development. The expression of cullin 4A was detected by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in multiple myeloma patients and multiple myeloma cell lines. In addition, silencing of cullin 4A with small interfering RNA was performed in human multiple myeloma cells, and the impact on proliferation, cell cycle, apoptosis, migration, and invasion of the multiple myeloma cells was analyzed. We found that the level of cullin 4A in serum samples was significantly upregulated in patients with multiple myeloma compared with healthy control subjects. Knockdown of cullin 4A via small interfering RNA inhibited the proliferation of the multiple myeloma cell lines by delaying cell-cycle progression and increasing apoptosis. cullin 4A downregulation inhibited multiple myeloma cell migration and invasion in vitro. Our results suggested that cullin 4A could be a promising therapy target in multiple myeloma patients.

Huang G-, Liu TT, Weng SW, et al.
CUL4A overexpression as an independent adverse prognosticator in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.
BMC Cancer. 2017; 17(1):395 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: CUL4A has been known for its oncogenic properties in various human cancers. However, its role in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA) has not been explored.
METHODS: We retrospectively investigated 105 iCCA cases from a single medical institution. Tissue microarrays were used for immunohistochemical analysis of CUL4A expression. CUL4A expression vectors were introduced in cell lines. Cell migration and invasion assays were used to compare the mobility potential of iCCA cells under basal conditions and after manipulation. Then we evaluated the effects of CUL4A on the cell growth by proliferation assay, and further checked the susceptibility to cisplatin in iCCA cells with or without CUL4A overexpression.
RESULTS: CUL4A overexpression was detected in 34 cases (32.4%). Patients with CUL4A-overexpressing tumors exhibited shortened disease-free survival (mean, 27.7 versus 90.4 months; P = 0.011). In the multivariate analysis model, CUL4A overexpression was shown to be an independent unfavorable predictor for disease-free survival (P = 0.045). Moreover, stably transfected CUL4A-overexpressing iCCA cell lines displayed an increased mobility potential and enhanced cell growth without impact on susceptibility to cisplatin.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data demonstrate that overexpression of CUL4A plays an oncogenic role in iCCA and adversely affects disease-free survival. Thus, it may prove to be a powerful prognostic factor and a potential therapeutic target.

Bhat A, Qin Z, Wang G, et al.
Rev7, the regulatory subunit of Polζ, undergoes UV-induced and Cul4-dependent degradation.
FEBS J. 2017; 284(12):1790-1803 [PubMed] Related Publications
In eukaryotic cells, Rev7 interacts with Rev3 and functions as a regulatory subunit of Polζ, a translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) polymerase. In addition to its role in TLS, mammalian Rev7, also known as Mad2B/Mad2L2, participates in multiple cellular activities including cell cycle progression and double-strand break repair through its interaction with several proteins. Here we show that in mammalian cells, Rev7 undergoes ubiquitin/proteasome-mediated degradation upon UV irradiation in a time-dependent manner. We identified the Rev7 N-terminal destruction box as the degron and Cul4A/B as putative E3 ligases in this process. We also show that the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway protein HR23B physically interacts and colocalizes with Rev7 in the nuclear foci after UV irradiation and protects Rev7 from accelerated degradation. Furthermore, a similar Rev7 degradation profile was observed in cells treated with the UV-mimetic agent 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide but not with cisplatin or camptothecin, suggesting a role of the NER pathway protein(s) in UV-induced Rev7 degradation. These data and the observation that cells deficient in Rev7 are sensitized to UV irradiation while excessive Rev7 protects cells from UV-induced DNA damage provide a new insight into the potential interplay between TLS and NER.

Zhang TJ, Xue D, Zhang CD, et al.
Cullin 4A is associated with epithelial to mesenchymal transition and poor prognosis in perihilar cholangiocarcinoma.
World J Gastroenterol. 2017; 23(13):2318-2329 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
AIM: To explore the functional role of cullin 4A (CUL4A), a core subunit of E3 ubiquitin ligase, in perihilar cholangiocarcinoma (PHCC).
METHODS: The expression of CUL4A in PHCC cell lines was evaluated by Western blot and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was adopted to investigate the relationship between CUL4A expression and clinicopathological characteristics of PHCC. Univariate analysis and multivariate regression analysis were performed to analyze the risk factors related to overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) of PHCC patients. Wound healing, Transwell and Matrigel assays were utilized to explore the function of CUL4A in PHCC metastasis. Furthermore, expression of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers was verified in cells with CUL4A knockdown or overexpression. The relationship between CUL4A expression and E-cadherin expression was also analyzed by IHC assay. Finally, the role of ZEB1 in regulating CUL4A mediated PHCC was detected by IHC, Western blot, Transwell and Matrigel assays.
RESULTS: CUL4A overexpression was detected in PHCC cell lines and clinical specimens. Clinicopathological analysis revealed a close correlation between CUL4A overexpression and tumour differentiation, T, N and TNM stages in PHCC. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed that high CUL4A expression was correlated with poor OS and PFS of PHCC patients. Univariate analysis identified the following four parameters as risk factors related to OS rate of PHCC: T, N, TNM stages and high CUL4A expression; as well as three related to PFS: N stage, TNM stage and high CUL4A expression. Further multivariate logistic regression analysis identified high CUL4A expression as the only independent prognostic factor for PHCC. Moreover, CUL4A silencing in PHCC cell lines dramatically inhibited metastasis and the EMT. Conversely, CUL4A overexpression promoted these processes. Mechanistically, ZEB1 was discovered to regulate the function of CUL4A in promoting the EMT and metastasis.
CONCLUSION: CUL4A is an independent prognostic factor for PHCC, and it can promote the EMT by regulating ZEB1 expression. CUL4A may be a potential therapeutic target for PHCC.

Ni W, Zhang Y, Zhan Z, et al.
A novel lncRNA uc.134 represses hepatocellular carcinoma progression by inhibiting CUL4A-mediated ubiquitination of LATS1.
J Hematol Oncol. 2017; 10(1):91 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignancies worldwide, and tumor recurrence and metastasis are major factors that contribute to the poor outcome of patients with HCC. Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are known to regulate different tumorigenic processes, and a growing body of evidence indicates that Hippo kinase signaling is inactivated in many cancers. However, the upstream lncRNA regulators of Hippo kinase signaling in HCC are poorly understood.
METHODS: Using a lncRNA microarray, we identified a novel lncRNA, uc.134, whose expression was significantly decreased in the highly aggressive HCC cell line HCCLM3 compared with MHCC97L cells. Furthermore, we evaluated uc.134 expression in clinical samples using in situ hybridization (ISH) and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis. The full-length transcript of uc.134 was confirmed using rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) analyses. To investigate the biological function of uc.134, we performed gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies both in vitro and in vivo. The underlying mechanisms of uc.134 in HCC were investigated using RNA pulldown, RNA immunoprecipitation, ubiquitination assays, Western blotting, mRNA microarray analyses, and qRT-PCR analyses.
RESULTS: The ISH assay revealed that uc.134 expression was significantly decreased in 170 paraffin-embedded samples from patients with HCC compared with adjacent tissues and uc.134 expression directly correlated with patient prognosis. Furthermore, we defined a 1867-bp full-length transcript of uc.134 using 5'- and 3'-RACE analysis. The overexpression of uc.134 inhibited HCC cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis in vitro and in vivo, whereas the knockdown of uc.134 produced the opposite results. Furthermore, we confirmed that uc.134 (1408-1867 nt) binds to CUL4A (592-759 aa region) and inhibits its nuclear export. Moreover, we demonstrated that uc.134 inhibits the CUL4A-mediated ubiquitination of LATS1 and increases YAP
CONCLUSIONS: Our study identifies that a novel lncRNA, uc.134, represses hepatocellular carcinoma progression by inhibiting the CUL4A-mediated ubiquitination of LATS1 and increasing YAP

Yan H, Bi L, Wang Y, et al.
Integrative analysis of multi-omics data reveals distinct impacts of DDB1-CUL4 associated factors in human lung adenocarcinomas.
Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):333 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Many DDB1-CUL4 associated factors (DCAFs) have been identified and serve as substrate receptors. Although the oncogenic role of CUL4A has been well established, specific DCAFs involved in cancer development remain largely unknown. Here we infer the potential impact of 19 well-defined DCAFs in human lung adenocarcinomas (LuADCs) using integrative omics analyses, and discover that mRNA levels of DTL, DCAF4, 12 and 13 are consistently elevated whereas VBRBP is reduced in LuADCs compared to normal lung tissues. The transcriptional levels of DCAFs are significantly correlated with their gene copy number variations. SKIP2, DTL, DCAF6, 7, 8, 13 and 17 are frequently gained whereas VPRBP, PHIP, DCAF10, 12 and 15 are frequently lost. We find that only transcriptional level of DTL is robustly, significantly and negatively correlated with overall survival across independent datasets. Moreover, DTL-correlated genes are enriched in cell cycle and DNA repair pathways. We also identified that the levels of 25 proteins were significantly associated with DTL overexpression in LuADCs, which include significant decreases in protein level of the tumor supressor genes such as PDCD4, NKX2-1 and PRKAA1. Our results suggest that different CUL4-DCAF axis plays the distinct roles in LuADC development with possible relevance for therapeutic target development.

Li N, Jiang D
Jumonji domain containing 2C promotes cell migration and invasion through modulating CUL4A expression in lung cancer.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2017; 89:305-315 [PubMed] Related Publications
Jumonji domain containing 2C (JMJD2C), also named as KDM4C, was found to a transcriptional cofactor and enzyme that catalyzes demethylation of histone H3 lysine 9 and 36. Here in this study, we found that the expression of JMJD2C increased in a majority of the human lung cancer tissues examined compared with adjacent tissues. Furthermore, the expression of JMJD2C was found to be higher in metastatic lung cancer tissues than which in non-metastatic lung cancer tissues. Knockdown of JMJD2C inhibited the ability of migration and invasion of lung cancer cells. Moreover, JMJD2C knockdown was proven to inhibit the tumor hepatic metastasis of lung cancer cells in vivo and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in vitro. On the contrary, over-expression of JMJD2C was found to promote the ability of migration, invasion and EMT. As to mechanism, knockdown of JMJD2C was found to inhibit the expression of CUL4A while to promote the expression of p53 and p27. Furthermore, we found that JMJD2C regulated the activities of lung cancer cells by directly controlling the expression of CUL4A in JMJD2C over-expression cell line, and interference of CUL4A was found to reverse the ability of migration, invasion and EMT which JMJD2C over-expression bought to. Together, these results of this study not only enriched the JMJD2C biological function of lung cancer, but also illuminated exploring the prevention and treatment of the invasion and metastasis of lung cancer.

Nagel S, Pommerenke C, Meyer C, et al.
Identification of a tumor suppressor network in T-cell leukemia.
[PubMed] Related Publications
To identify novel cancer-related genes targeted by copy number alterations, we performed genomic profiling of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) cell lines. In 3/8, we identified a shared deletion at chromosomal position 2p16.3-p21. Within the minimally deleted region, we recognized several candidate tumor suppressor (TS) genes, including FBXO11 and FOXN2. An additional deletion at chromosome 14q23.2-q32.11 included FOXN3, highlighting this class of FOX genes as potential TS. Quantitative expression analyses of FBXO11, FOXN2, and FOXN3 confirmed reduced transcript levels in the identified cell lines. Moreover, reduced expression of these genes was also observed in about 7% of T-ALL patients, showing their clinical relevance in this malignancy. Bioinformatic analyses revealed concurrent reduction of FOXN2 and/or FOXN3 together with homeobox gene ZHX1. Consistently, experiments demonstrated that both FOXN2 and FOXN3 directly activated transcription of ZHX1. Taken together, we identified novel TS genes forming a regulatory network in T-cell development and leukemogenesis.

Englinger B, Mair M, Miklos W, et al.
Loss of CUL4A expression is underlying cisplatin hypersensitivity in colorectal carcinoma cells with acquired trabectedin resistance.
Br J Cancer. 2017; 116(4):489-500 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Colorectal carcinoma (CRC) is the third most common cancer worldwide. Platinum-based anticancer compounds still constitute one mainstay of systemic CRC treatment despite limitations due to adverse effects and resistance development. Trabectedin has shown promising antitumor effects in CRC, however, again resistance development may occur. In this study, we aimed to develop strategies to circumvent or even exploit acquired trabectedin resistance in novel CRC treatment regimens.
METHODS: Human HCT116 CRC cells were selected for acquired trabectedin resistance in vitro and characterised by cell biological as well as bioinformatic approaches. In vivo xenograft experiments were conducted.
RESULTS: Selection of HCT116 cells for trabectedin resistance resulted in p53-independent hypersensitivity of the selected subline against cisplatin. Bioinformatic analyses of mRNA microarray data suggested deregulation of nucleotide excision repair and particularly loss of the ubiquitin ligase CUL4A in trabectedin-selected cells. Indeed, transient knockdown of CUL4A sensitised parental HCT116 cells towards cisplatin. Trabectedin selected but not parental HCT116 xenografts were significantly responsive towards cisplatin treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Trabectedin selection-mediated CUL4A loss generates an Achilles heel in CRC cancer cells enabling effective cisplatin treatment. Hence, inclusion of trabectedin in cisplatin-containing cancer treatment regimens might cause profound synergism based on reciprocal resistance prevention.

Han X, Fang Z, Wang H, et al.
CUL4A functions as an oncogene in ovarian cancer and is directly regulated by miR-494.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2016; 480(4):675-681 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cullin 4A (CUL4A), as a well-defined oncogene, has been reported to be upregulated in ovarian cancer clinically. However, the biological functions of CUL4A and the molecular mechanism underlying its upregulation in ovarian cancer remains unknown throughly. Here, we show that expression of CUL4A is significantly higher in ovarian cancer tissues compared to corresponding non-cancerous tissues. Moreover, silencing of CUL4A by siRNA markedly inhibits cell proliferation, invasion and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). We identified CUL4A as a novel target gene of miR-494. Further investigations showed that miR-494 was remarkably downregulated and correlated with poor prognosis in ovarian cancer. Overexpression of miR-494 inhibited proliferation, migration, invasion and EMT of ovarian cancer cells by directly suppressing CUL4A expression. Therefore, our findings indicate that miR-494/CUL4A axis is important in the control of ovarian cancer tumorigenesis.

Jia L, Yan F, Cao W, et al.
Dysregulation of CUL4A and CUL4B Ubiquitin Ligases in Lung Cancer.
J Biol Chem. 2017; 292(7):2966-2978 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications

Jiang JX, Yu C, Li ZP, et al.
Insights into significant pathways and gene interaction networks in peripheral blood mononuclear cells for early diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma.
J Cancer Res Ther. 2016 Apr-Jun; 12(2):981-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Early diagnosis of hepatocellular cancer (HCC) significantly helps improve patient survival. However, high specific and sensitive tests for screening patients with early stage of HCC are not yet available. Novel HCC biomarkers based on gene expression profiles of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) might change the situation. Recently, a three gene-based signature for the non-invasive detection of early HCC was reported.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the differences in global gene expression profiles in PBMCs of healthy individuals and HCC patients, with a specific aim to uncover the significantly altered biological pathways and important hub genes.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two groups of data were extracted from Affymetrix microarray expression dataset GSE49515. One group had 10 PBMCs samples from healthy control individuals, and the other had 10 PBMCs samples from patients with HCC. Gene expression profiles of both groups were analyzed and compared. Furthermore, ribonucleic acid (RNA) levels of seven of the identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were further confirmed by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (QRT-PCR).
RESULTS: Significant differences were uncovered in gene expression profiles in PBMCs of healthy individuals and HCC patients. Three hundred and seventy-five up-regulated and 169 down-regulated DEGs were identified. Three hundred and eighty-seven gene ontology (GO) biological processes and 15 Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways were over-represented by the identified DEGs.
CONCLUSIONS: Using identified DEGs, significantly changed biological processes such as nucleic acid metabolic process and KEGG pathways such as cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction in PBMCs of HCC patients were identified. In addition, several important hub genes, for example, CUL4A, and interleukin (IL) 8 were also uncovered.

Ren W, Sun Z, Zeng Q, et al.
Aberrant Expression of CUL4A Is Associated with IL-6/ STAT3 Activation in Colorectal Cancer Progression.
Arch Med Res. 2016; 47(3):214-22 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Although it has been indicated that the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) promotes colorectal cancer (CRC) tumorigenesis in tumor microenvironment, the mechanisms related to IL-6-induced tumor progression are still not well understood.
METHODS: First, the correlation between pSTAT3, CUL4A and ZEB1 was analyzed using immunocytochemistry. Logistic regression analysis was then used to observe the relationship between levels of pSTAT3, CUL4A and ZEB1 and clinicopathological characteristics. Finally, the mechanism of the effect of the expression level of pSTAT3, CUL4A and ZEB1 on cell invasion ability was verified by cell experiment.
RESULTS: We discovered that the increased expression levels of pSTAT3, CUL4A and ZEB1 had significant relationships in CRC patients. These up-regulated expression levels were also closely associated with CRC aggressiveness. Furthermore, in vitro, we discovered that expression levels of CUL4A and ZEB1 were significantly up-regulated when IL-6 stimulated. However, the CUL4A-knockdown, IL-6, could not induce expression of ZEB1. CHIP assay authenticated that pSTAT3 could bind to CUL4A promoter and worked as their transcription factors. We also demonstrated that IL-6 markedly increased the reporter activity using a luciferase reporter gene containing CUL4A promoter. Finally, silencing CUL4A blocked IL-6-driven invasion in matrigel invasion assay.
CONCLUSION: This study proposed that CUL4A played an oncogene role through ZEB1 in IL-6-induced colorectal carcinoma progression.

Yang Y, He S, Wang Q, et al.
Autophagic UVRAG Promotes UV-Induced Photolesion Repair by Activation of the CRL4(DDB2) E3 Ligase.
Mol Cell. 2016; 62(4):507-19 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
UV-induced DNA damage, a major risk factor for skin cancers, is primarily repaired by nucleotide excision repair (NER). UV radiation resistance-associated gene (UVRAG) is a tumor suppressor involved in autophagy. It was initially isolated as a cDNA partially complementing UV sensitivity in xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), but this was not explored further. Here we show that UVRAG plays an integral role in UV-induced DNA damage repair. It localizes to photolesions and associates with DDB1 to promote the assembly and activity of the DDB2-DDB1-Cul4A-Roc1 (CRL4(DDB2)) ubiquitin ligase complex, leading to efficient XPC recruitment and global genomic NER. UVRAG depletion decreased substrate handover to XPC and conferred UV-damage hypersensitivity. We confirmed the importance of UVRAG for UV-damage tolerance using a Drosophila model. Furthermore, increased UV-signature mutations in melanoma correlate with reduced expression of UVRAG. Our results identify UVRAG as a regulator of CRL4(DDB2)-mediated NER and suggest that its expression levels may influence melanoma predisposition.

Pfefferle AD, Agrawal YN, Koboldt DC, et al.
Genomic profiling of murine mammary tumors identifies potential personalized drug targets for p53-deficient mammary cancers.
Dis Model Mech. 2016; 9(7):749-57 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Targeted therapies against basal-like breast tumors, which are typically 'triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs)', remain an important unmet clinical need. Somatic TP53 mutations are the most common genetic event in basal-like breast tumors and TNBC. To identify additional drivers and possible drug targets of this subtype, a comparative study between human and murine tumors was performed by utilizing a murine Trp53-null mammary transplant tumor model. We show that two subsets of murine Trp53-null mammary transplant tumors resemble aspects of the human basal-like subtype. DNA-microarray, whole-genome and exome-based sequencing approaches were used to interrogate the secondary genetic aberrations of these tumors, which were then compared to human basal-like tumors to identify conserved somatic genetic features. DNA copy-number variation produced the largest number of conserved candidate personalized drug targets. These candidates were filtered using a DNA-RNA Pearson correlation cut-off and a requirement that the gene was deemed essential in at least 5% of human breast cancer cell lines from an RNA-mediated interference screen database. Five potential personalized drug target genes, which were spontaneously amplified loci in both murine and human basal-like tumors, were identified: Cul4a, Lamp1, Met, Pnpla6 and Tubgcp3 As a proof of concept, inhibition of Met using crizotinib caused Met-amplified murine tumors to initially undergo complete regression. This study identifies Met as a promising drug target in a subset of murine Trp53-null tumors, thus identifying a potential shared driver with a subset of human basal-like breast cancers. Our results also highlight the importance of comparative genomic studies for discovering personalized drug targets and for providing a preclinical model for further investigations of key tumor signaling pathways.

Hung MS, Chen IC, You L, et al.
Knockdown of cullin 4A inhibits growth and increases chemosensitivity in lung cancer cells.
J Cell Mol Med. 2016; 20(7):1295-306 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cullin 4A (Cul4A) has been observed to be overexpressed in various cancers. In this study, the role of Cul4A in the growth and chemosensitivity in lung cancer cells were studied. We showed that Cul4A is overexpressed in lung cancer cells and tissues. Knockdown of the Cul4A expression by shRNA in lung cancer cells resulted in decreased cellular proliferation and growth in lung cancer cells. Increased sensitivity to gemcitabine, a chemotherapy drug, was also noted in those Cul4A knockdown lung cancer cells. Moreover, increased expression of p21, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β inducible early gene-1 (TIEG1) and TGF beta-induced (TGFBI) was observed in lung cancer cells after Cul4A knockdown, which may be partially related to increased chemosensitivity to gemcitabine. G0/G1 cell cycle arrest was also noted after Cul4A knockdown. Notably, decreased tumour growth and increased chemosensitivity to gemcitabine were also noted after Cul4A knockdown in lung cancer xenograft nude mice models. In summary, our study showed that targeting Cul4A with RNAi or other techniques may provide a possible insight to the development of lung cancer therapy in the future.

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):209-220 [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.

Hung KH, Su ST, Chen CY, et al.
Aiolos collaborates with Blimp-1 to regulate the survival of multiple myeloma cells.
Cell Death Differ. 2016; 23(7):1175-84 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The transcriptional repressor B lymphocyte-induced maturation protein-1 (Blimp-1) has crucial roles in the control of plasma cell differentiation and in maintaining survival of plasma cells. However, how Blimp-1 ensures the survival of plasma cell malignancy, multiple myeloma (MM), has remained elusive. Here we identified Aiolos, an anti-apoptotic transcription factor of MM cells, as a Blimp-1-interacting protein by mass spectrometry. ChIP coupled with DNA microarray was used to profile the global binding of Aiolos and Blimp-1 to endogenous targets in MM cells, which revealed their co-binding to a large number of genes, including apoptosis-related genes. Accordingly, Blimp-1 and Aiolos regulate similar transcriptomes in MM cells. Analysis of the binding motifs for Blimp-1 and Aiolos uncovered a partial motif that was similar across sites for both proteins. Aiolos promotes the binding of Blimp-1 to target genes and thereby enhances Blimp-1-dependent transcriptional repression. Furthermore, treatment with an anti-MM agent, lenalidomide, caused ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of Blimp-1, leading to the de-repression of a new Blimp-1 direct target, CULLIN 4A (CUL4A), and reduced Aiolos levels. Accordingly, lenalidomide-induced cell death was partially rescued by reintroduction of Blimp-1 or knockdown of CUL4A. Thus, we demonstrated the functional impacts and underlying mechanisms of the interaction between Aiolos and Blimp-1 in maintaining MM cell survival. We also showed that interruption of Blimp-1/Aiolos regulatory pathways contributes to lenalidomide-mediated anti-MM activity.

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.

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