Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)

c-Myc is targeted to the proteasome for degradation in a SUMOylation-dependent manner, regulated by PIAS1, SENP7 and RNF4.

PMID 25895136


c-Myc is the most frequently overexpressed oncogene in tumors, including breast cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer. Post-translational modifications comprising phosphorylation, acetylation and ubiquitylation regulate the activity of c-Myc. Recently, it was shown that c-Myc-driven tumors are strongly dependent on the SUMO pathway. Currently, the relevant SUMO target proteins in this pathway are unknown. Here we show that c-Myc is a target protein for SUMOylation, and that SUMOylated c-Myc is subsequently ubiquitylated and degraded by the proteasome. SUMO chains appeared to be dispensable for this process, polymerization-deficient SUMO mutants supported proteolysis of SUMOylated c-Myc. These results indicate that multiple SUMO monomers conjugated to c-Myc could be sufficient to direct SUMOylated c-Myc to the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Knocking down the SUMO-targeted ubiquitin ligase RNF4 enhanced the levels of SUMOylated c-Myc, indicating that RNF4 could recognize a multi-SUMOylated protein as a substrate in addition to poly-SUMOylated proteins. Knocking down the SUMO E3 ligase PIAS1 resulted in reduced c-Myc SUMOylation and increased c-Myc transcriptional activity, indicating that PIAS1 mediates c-Myc SUMOylation. Increased SUMOylation of c-Myc was noted upon knockdown of the SUMO protease SENP7, indicating that it also could regulate a multi-SUMOylated protein in addition to poly-SUMOylated proteins. C-Myc lacks KxE-type SUMOylation consensus motifs. We used mass spectrometry to identify 10 SUMO acceptor lysines: K52, K148, K157, K317, K323, K326, K389, K392, K398 and K430. Intriguingly, mutating all 10 SUMO acceptor lysines did not reduce c-Myc SUMOylation, suggesting that SUMO acceptor lysines in c-Myc act promiscuously. Our results provide novel insight into the complexity of c-Myc post-translational regulation.