Cul4A targets p27 for degradation and regulates proliferation, cell cycle exit, and differentiation during erythropoiesis.

PMID 16467204


As erythroid progenitors differentiate into precursors and finally mature red blood cells, lineage-specific genes are induced, and proliferation declines until cell cycle exit. Cul4A encodes a core subunit of a ubiquitin ligase that targets proteins for ubiquitin-mediated degradation, and Cul4A-haploinsufficient mice display hematopoietic dysregulation with fewer multipotential and erythroid-committed progenitors. In this study, stress induced by 5-fluorouracil or phenylhydrazine revealed a delay in the recovery of erythroid progenitors, early precursors, and normal hematocrits in Cul4A(+/-) mice. Conversely, overexpression of Cul4A in a growth factor-dependent, proerythroblast cell line increased proliferation and the proportion of cells in S phase. When these proerythroblasts were induced to terminally differentiate, endogenous Cul4A protein expression declined 3.6-fold. Its enforced expression interfered with erythrocyte maturation and cell cycle exit and, instead, promoted proliferation. Furthermore, p27 normally accumulates during erythroid terminal differentiation, but Cul4A-enforced expression destabilized p27 and attenuated its accumulation. Cul4A and p27 proteins coimmunoprecipitate, indicating that a Cul4A ubiquitin ligase targets p27 for degradation. These findings indicate that a Cul4A ubiquitin ligase positively regulates proliferation by targeting p27 for degradation and that Cul4A down-regulation during terminal erythroid differentiation allows p27 to accumulate and signal cell cycle exit.