Transcriptional activation of MYC is a hallmark of many B cell lineage neoplasms. MYC provides a constitutive proliferative signal but can also initiate ARF-dependent activation of p53 and apoptosis. The E3 ubiquitin ligase, ARF-BP1, encoded by HUWE1, modulates the activity of both the MYC and the ARF-p53 signaling pathways, prompting us to determine if it is involved in the pathogenesis of MYC-driven B cell lymphomas. ARF-BP1 was expressed at high levels in cell lines from lymphomas with either wild type or mutated p53 but not in ARF-deficient cells. Downregulation of ARF-BP1 resulted in elevated steady state levels of p53, growth arrest and apoptosis. Co-immunoprecipitation studies identified a multiprotein complex comprised of ARF-BP1, ARF, p53, MYC and the multifunctional DNA-binding factor, CTCF, which is involved in the transcriptional regulation of MYC, p53 and ARF. ARF-BP1 bound and ubiquitylated CTCF leading to its proteasomal degradation. ARF-BP1 and CTCF thus appear to be key cofactors linking the MYC proliferative and p53-ARF apoptotic pathways. In addition, ARF-BP1 could be a therapeutic target for MYC-driven B lineage neoplasms, even if p53 is inactive, with inhibition reducing the transcriptional activity of MYC for its target genes and stabilizing the apoptosis-promoting activities of p53.
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