COP1 functions as a FoxO1 ubiquitin E3 ligase to regulate FoxO1-mediated gene expression.
COP1 is a Ring-Finger E3 ubiquitin ligase that is involved in plant development, mammalian cell survival, growth, and metabolism. Here we report that COP1, whose expression is enhanced by insulin, regulates FoxO1 protein stability. We found that in Fao hepatoma cells, ectopic expression of COP1 decreased, whereas knockdown of COP1 expression increased the level of endogenous FoxO1 protein without impacting other factors such as C/EBPalpha and CREB (cAMP-response element-binding protein). We further showed that COP1 binds FoxO1, enhances its ubiquitination, and promotes its degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. To determine the biological significance of COP1-mediated FoxO1 protein degradation, we have examined the impact of COP1 on FoxO1-mediated gene expression and found that COP1 suppressed FoxO1 reporter gene as well as FoxO1 target genes such as glucose-6-phosphatase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, two key targets for FoxO1 in the regulation of gluconeogenesis, with corresponding changes of hepatic glucose production in Fao cells. We suggest that by functioning as a FoxO1 E3 ligase, COP1 may play a role in the regulation of hepatic glucose metabolism.