Loss of the CDK inhibitor p27(KIP1) is widely linked with poor prognosis in human cancer. In Wnt10b-expressing mammary tumors, levels of p27(KIP1) were extremely low; conversely, Wnt10b-null mammary cells expressed high levels of this protein, suggesting Wnt-dependent regulation of p27(KIP1). Interestingly we found that Wnt-induced turnover of p27(KIP1) was independent from classical SCF(SKP2)-mediated degradation in both mouse and human cells. Instead, turnover required Cullin 4A and Cullin 4B, components of an alternative E3 ubiquitin ligase induced in response to active Wnt signaling. We found that CUL4A was a novel Wnt target gene in both mouse and human cells and that CUL4A physically interacted with p27(KIP1) in Wnt-responding cells. We further demonstrated that both Cul4A and Cul4B were required for Wnt-induced p27(KIP1) degradation and S-phase progression. CUL4A and CUL4B are therefore components of a conserved Wnt-induced proteasome targeting (WIPT) complex that regulates p27(KIP1) levels and cell cycle progression in mammalian cells.
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