KAP1 is an essential nuclear factor acting as a scaffold for protein complexes repressing transcription. KAP1 plays fundamental role in normal and cancer cell biology, affecting cell prolif-eration, DNA damage response, genome integrity maintenance, migration and invasion, as well as anti-viral and immune response. Despite the foregoing, the mechanisms regulating KAP1 cellular abundance are poorly understood. In this study, we identified the E3 ubiquitin ligase SMURF2 as an important regulator of KAP1. We show that SMURF2 directly interacts with KAP1 and ubiquitinates it in vitro and in the cellular environment in a catalytically-dependent manner. Interestingly, while in the examined untransformed cells, SMURF2 mostly exerted a negative impact on KAP1 expression, a phenomenon that was also monitored in certain Smurf2-ablated mouse tissues, in tumor cells SMURF2 stabilized KAP1. This stabilization relied on the unaltered E3 ubiquitin ligase function of SMURF2. Further investigations showed that SMURF2 regulates KAP1 post-translationally, interfering with its proteasomal degradation. The conducted immunohistochemical studies showed that the reciprocal relationship between the expression of SMURF2 and KAP1 also exists in human normal and breast cancer tissues and suggested that this relationship may be disrupted by the carcinogenic process. Finally, through stratifying KAP1 interactome in cells expressing either SMURF2 wild-type or its E3 ligase-dead form, we demonstrate that SMURF2 has a profound impact on KAP1 protein–protein interactions and the associated functions, adding an additional layer in the SMURF2-mediated regulation of KAP1. Cumulatively, these findings uncover SMURF2 as a novel regulator of KAP1, governing its protein expression, interactions, and functions.
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