ΔNp63 is a transcription factor that is critical for the development of stratified epithelia and is overexpressed or amplified in >80% of squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). We identified the RING finger E3 ubiquitin ligase PIR2/Rnf144b as a direct transcriptional target of ΔNp63α and showed that its expression parallels that of ΔNp63α in keratinocytes, SCC cell lines and SCCs. We used primary keratinocytes as a model system to investigate the function of PIR2/Rnf144b in stratified epithelia. Depletion of PIR2/Rnf144b severely impaired keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation, associated with accumulation of p21 WAF1/CIP1; a known target of PIR2/Rnf144b. More importantly, we found that PIR2/Rnf144b binds and mediates proteasomal degradation of ΔNp63α, generating a hitherto unknown auto-regulatory feedback loop. These findings substantiate PIR2/Rnf144b as a potentially critical component of epithelial homeostasis, acting downstream of ΔNp63α to regulate cellular levels of p21 WAF1/CIP1 and ΔNp63α.
- squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research