PloS one

The TBC1D15 oncoprotein controls stem cell self-renewal through destabilization of the Numb-p53 complex.

PMID 23468968


Stem cell populations are maintained through self-renewing divisions in which one daughter cell commits to a specific fate while the other retains the multipotent characteristics of its parent. The p53 tumor suppressor, in conjunction with its interacting partner protein Numb, preserves this asymmetry and functions as a vital barrier against the unchecked expansion of tumor stem cell pools; however, little is known about the biological control of the Numb-p53 interaction. We show here that Numb and p53 are the constituents of a high molecular mass complex, which is disintegrated upon activation of aPKCζ, a Numb kinase. Using large-scale affinity purification and tandem mass spectrometry, we identify TBC1D15 as a Numb-associated protein and demonstrate that its amino-terminal domain disengages p53 from Numb, triggering p53 proteolysis and promoting self-renewal and pluripotency. Cellular levels of TBC1D15 are diminished upon acute nutrient deprivation through autophagy-mediated degradation, indicating that TBC1D15 serves as a conduit through which cellular metabolic status is linked to self-renewal. The profound deregulation of TBC1D15 expression exhibited in a diverse array of patient tumors underscores its proposed function as an oncoprotein.