UBXN2A enhances CHIP-mediated proteasomal degradation of oncoprotein mortalin-2 in cancer cells

Sanam Sane, Andre Hafner, Rekha Srinivasan, Daniall Masood, John L. Slunecka, Collin J. Noldner, Alex D. Hanson, Taylor Kruisselbrink, Xuejun Wang, Yiyang Wang, Jun Yin, Khosrow Rezvani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Overexpression of oncoproteins is a major cause of treatment failure using current chemotherapeutic drugs. Drug-induced degradation of oncoproteins is feasible and can improve clinical outcomes in diverse types of cancers. Mortalin-2 (mot-2) is a dominant oncoprotein in several tumors, including colorectal cancer (CRC). In addition to inactivating the p53 tumor suppressor protein, mot-2 enhances tumor cell invasion and migration. Thus, mot-2 is considered a potential therapeutic target in several cancer types. The current study investigated the biological role of a ubiquitin-like protein called UBXN2A in the regulation of mot-2 turnover. An orthogonal ubiquitin transfer technology followed by immunoprecipitation, in vitro ubiquitination, and Magnetic Beads TUBE2 pull-down experiments revealed that UBXN2A promotes carboxyl terminus of the HSP70-interacting protein (CHIP)-dependent ubiquitination of mot-2. We subsequently showed that UBXN2A increases proteasomal degradation of mot-2. A subcellular compartmentalization experiment revealed that induced UBXN2A decreases the level of mot-2 and its chaperone partner, HSP60. Pharmacological upregulation of UBXN2A using a small molecule, veratridine (VTD), decreases the level of mot-2 in cancer cells. Consistent with the in vitro results, UBXN2A+/− mice exhibited selective elevation of mot-2 in colon tissues. An in vitro Anti-K48 TUBE isolation approach showed that recombinant UBXN2A enhances proteasomal degradation of mot-2 in mouse colon tissues. Finally, we observed enhanced association of CHIP with the UBXN2A-mot-2 complex in tumors in an azoxymethane/dextran sulfate sodium-induced mouse CRC model. The existence of a multiprotein complex containing UBXN2A, CHIP, and mot-2 suggests a synergistic tumor suppressor activity of UBXN2A and CHIP in mot-2-enriched tumors. This finding validates the UBXN2A-CHIP axis as a novel and potential therapeutic target in CRC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1753-1777
Number of pages25
JournalMolecular Oncology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • CHIP E3 ligase
  • UBXN2A
  • colorectal cancer
  • mortalin-2
  • mouse
  • veratridine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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