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Cell Rep. 2013 Aug 15;4(3):530-41. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.07.009. Epub 2013 Aug 1.

Identification of PHRF1 as a tumor suppressor that promotes the TGF-β cytostatic program through selective release of TGIF-driven PML inactivation.

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Laboratory of Cell Signaling and Carcinogenesis, INSERM UMRS938, 184 Rue du Faubourg St-Antoine, 75571 Paris, France.


The homeodomain protein TGIF (TG-interacting factor) restricts TGF-β/Smad cytostatic signaling by interfering with the nucleocytoplasmic transit of the tumor suppressor cPML. Here, we identify PHRF1 as a ubiquitin ligase that enforces TGIF decay by driving its ubiquitination at lysine 130. In so doing, PHRF1 ensures redistribution of cPML into the cytoplasm, where it associates with SARA and coordinates activation of Smad2 by the TGF-β receptor. The PHRF1 gene resides within the tumor suppressor locus 11p15.5, which displays frequent loss in a wide variety of malignancies, including breast cancer. Remarkably, we found that the PHRF1 gene is deleted or silenced in a high proportion of human breast cancer samples and cancer cell lines. Reconstitution of PHRF1 into deficient cells impeded their propensity to form tumors in vivo, most likely because of the reemergence of TGF-β responsiveness. These findings unveil a paradigm behind inactivation of the cPML tumor suppressor network in human malignancies.

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