SMURF2, an E3 ubiquitin ligase and suggested tumor suppressor, operates in normal cells to prevent genomic instability and carcinogenesis. However, the mechanisms underlying SMURF2 inactivation in human malignancies remain elusive, as SMURF2 is rarely found mutated or deleted in cancers. We hypothesized that SMURF2 might have a distinct molecular biodistribution in cancer versus normal cells and tissues. The expression and localization of SMURF2 were analyzed in 666 human normal and cancer tissues, with primary focus on prostate and breast tumors. These investigations were accompanied by SMURF2 gene expression analyses, subcellular fractionation and biochemical studies, including SMURF2’s interactome analysis. We found that while in normal cells and tissues SMURF2 has a predominantly nuclear localization, in prostate and aggressive breast carcinomas SMURF2 shows a significantly increased cytoplasmic sequestration, associated with the disease progression. Mechanistic studies showed that the nuclear export machinery was not involved in cytoplasmic accumulation of SMURF2, while uncovered that its stability is markedly increased in the cytoplasmic compartment. Subsequent interactome analyses pointed to 14-3-3s as SMURF2 interactors, which could potentially affect its localization. These findings link the distorted expression of SMURF2 to human carcinogenesis and suggest the alterations in SMURF2 localization as a potential mechanism obliterating its tumor suppressor activities.
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© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Gene and protein expression
- Molecular localization
- Prostate and breast cancer