We have previously reported an important role of PR55α, a regulatory subunit of PP2A Ser/Thr phosphatase, in the support of critical oncogenic pathways required for oncogenesis and the malignant phenotype of pancreatic cancer. The studies in this report reveal a novel mechanism by which the p53 tumor suppressor inhibits the protein-stability of PR55α via FBXL20, a p53-target gene that serves as a substrate recognition component of the SCF (Skp1_Cullin1_F-box) E3 ubiquitin ligase complex that promotes proteasomal degradation of its targeted proteins. Our studies show that inactivation of p53 by siRNA-knockdown, gene-deletion, HPV-E6-mediated degradation, or expression of the loss-of-function mutant p53R175H results in increased PR55α protein stability, which is accompanied by reduced protein expression of FBXL20 and decreased ubiquitination of PR55α. Subsequent studies demonstrate that knockdown of FBXL20 by siRNA mimics p53 deficiency, reducing PR55α ubiquitination and increasing PR55α protein stability. Functional tests indicate that ectopic p53R175H or PR55α expression results in an increase of c-Myc protein stability with concomitant dephosphorylation of c-Myc-T58, which is a PR55α substrate, whose phosphorylation otherwise promotes c-Myc degradation. A significant increase in anchorage-independent proliferation is also observed in normal human pancreatic cells expressing p53R175H or, to a greater extent, overexpressing PR55α. Consistent with the common loss of p53 function in pancreatic cancer, FBXL20 mRNA expression is significantly lower in pancreatic cancer tissues compared to pancreatic normal tissues and low FBXL20 levels correlate with poor patient survival. Collectively, these studies delineate a novel mechanism by which the p53/FBXL20 axis negatively regulates PR55α protein stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1192-1203
Number of pages12
JournalNeoplasia (United States)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • FBXL20
  • PP2A
  • PR55α
  • c-Myc
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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