Submit Manuscript  

Article Details

Cullin-RING Ligases as Attractive Anti-cancer Targets

[ Vol. 19 , Issue. 18 ]


Yongchao Zhao and Yi Sun   Pages 3215 - 3225 ( 11 )


The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) promotes the timely degradation of short-lived proteins with key regulatory roles in a vast array of biological processes, such as cell cycle progression, oncogenesis and genome integrity. Thus, abnormal regulation of UPS disrupts the protein homeostasis and causes many human diseases, particularly cancer. Indeed, the FDA approval of bortezomib, the first class of general proteasome inhibitor, for the treatment of multiple myeloma, demonstrated that the UPS can be an attractive anti-cancer target. However, normal cell toxicity associated with bortezomib, resulting from global inhibition of protein degradation, promotes the focus of drug discovery efforts on targeting enzymes upstream of the proteasome for better specificity. E3 ubiquitin ligases, particularly those known to be activated in human cancer, become an attractive choice. Cullin-RING Ligases (CRLs) with multiple components are the largest family of E3 ubiquitin ligases and are responsible for ubiquitination of ∼20% of cellular proteins degraded through UPS. Activity of CRLs is dynamically regulated and requires the RING component and cullin neddylation. In this review, we will introduce the UPS and CRL E3s and discuss the biological processes regulated by each of eight CRLs through substrate degradation. We will further discuss how cullin neddylation controls CRL activity, and how CRLs are being validated as the attractive cancer targets by abrogating the RING component through genetic means and by inhibiting cullin neddylation via MLN4924, a small molecule indirect inhibitor of CRLs, currently in several Phase I clinical trials. Finally, we will discuss current efforts and future perspectives on the development of additional inhibitors of CRLs by targeting E2 and/or E3 of cullin neddylation and CRL-mediated ubiquitination as potential anti-cancer agents.


Anticancer targets, autophagy, cullins, CRL/SCF E3 ligase, MLN4924, NEDD8, neddylation, protein degradation, ubiquitin, UPS.


Division of Radiation and Cancer Biology, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, 4424B MS-1, 1301 Catherine Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.

Read Full-Text article