An RNF11: Smurf2 complex mediates ubiquitination of the AMSH protein.
RING-finger proteins play crucial roles in ubiquitination events involved in diverse cellular processes including signal transduction, differentiation and apoptosis. Most of the RING-finger proteins have E3-ubiquitin ligase activity. RNF11 is a small RING-finger protein and harbors a RING-H2 domain and a PY motif that could facilitate protein:protein interaction(s) involved in oncogenesis. To isolate RNF11 protein partners and determine its role in normal and cancer cells, we performed yeast two-hybrid screening. Among 18 in-frame positive clones, three were found to be ZBRK1, Eps15 and AMSH (associated molecule with the SH3 domain of STAM). ZBRK1 is a KRAB domain containing Zinc-finger protein and is known to repress target gene transcription in a BRCA1-dependent manner. Eps15 is monoubiquitinated and is part of an essential complex involved in the endocytosis of plasma membrane receptors via the clathrin-mediated internalization pathway. Recent studies have shown that AMSH protein is involved in BMP/TGF-beta signaling pathway by binding to Smad6 and Smad7. The association of RNF11 with these binding partners suggests that it would be involved in biological processes such as gene transcription, BMP/TGF-beta signaling and ubiquitination-associated events. Previously, we have shown that RNF11 interacts with the HECT-type E3 ligases AIP4 and Smurf2. Here, we show that RNF11 binds to AMSH in mammalian cells and that this interaction is independent of the RNF11 RING-finger domain and the PY motif. Our results also demonstrate that AMSH is ubiquitinated by Smurf2 E3 ligase in the presence of RNF11 and that a consequent reduction in its steady-state level requires both RNF11 and Smurf2. RNF11 therefore recruits AMSH to Smurf2 for ubiquitination, leading to its degradation by the 26S proteasome. The potential functions of RNF11-mediated degradation of AMSH in breast cancer are discussed.