DNA topoisomerase IIα (Topo IIα) ensures genomic integrity and unaltered chromosome inheritance and serves as a major target of several anticancer drugs. Topo IIα function is well understood, but how its expression is regulated remains unclear. Here, we identify the E3 ubiquitin ligase Smurf2 as a physiologic regulator of Topo IIα levels. Smurf2 physically interacted with Topo IIα and modified its ubiquitination status to protect Topo IIα from the proteasomal degradation in dose- and catalytically dependent manners. Smurf2-depleted cells exhibited a reduced ability to resolve DNA catenanes and pathological chromatin bridges formed during mitosis, a trait of Topo IIα–deficient cells and a hallmark of chromosome instability. Introducing Topo IIα into Smurf2-depleted cells rescued this phenomenon. Smurf2 was a determinant of Topo IIα protein levels in normal and cancer cells and tissues, and its levels affected cell sensitivity to the Topo II–targeting drug etoposide. Our results identified Smurf2 as an essential regulator of Topo IIα, providing novel insights into its control and into the suggested tumor-suppressor functions of Smurf2.
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