Although the ubiquitin-editing enzyme A20 is a key player in inflammation and autoimmunity, its role in cancer metastasis remains unknown. Here we show that A20 monoubiquitylates Snail1 at three lysine residues and thereby promotes metastasis of aggressive basal-like breast cancers. A20 is significantly upregulated in human basal-like breast cancers and its expression level is inversely correlated with metastasis-free patient survival. A20 facilitates TGF-β1-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of breast cancer cells through multi-monoubiquitylation of Snail1. Monoubiquitylated Snail1 has reduced affinity for glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β), and is thus stabilized in the nucleus through decreased phosphorylation. Knockdown of A20 or overexpression of Snail1 with mutation of the monoubiquitylated lysine residues into arginine abolishes lung metastasis in mouse xenograft and orthotopic breast cancer models, indicating that A20 and monoubiquitylated Snail1 are required for metastasis. Our findings uncover an essential role of the A20-Snail1 axis in TGF-β1-induced EMT and metastasis of basal-like breast cancers.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the National R&D Program for Cancer Control, Ministry for Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (1520120) and in part by National Research Foundation grant of Korea (2015R1A2A2A05001344 and SRC 2017R1A5A1014560) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICR & Future Planning.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology