The tumor suppressor protein p53 is a key regulator of cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and genomic stability. Mutations of p53 that compromise its function occur in 50% of human cancers. In unstressed cells, p53 is maintained at low levels;this is achieved by the ubiquitin-proteasome system, in which p53 is ubiquitinated by E3 ligases and targeted for degradation. In response to genotoxic stress, p53 needs to be rapidly stabilized to upregulate gene transcription. At least five ubiquitin ligases (E6-AP, HDM2, ARF-BP1, COP1, and PIRH2) and an ubiquitin-specific protease (HAUSP) that opposes the ligases have been identified to mediate ubiquitin- dependent proteasomal degradation of p53. However, how these ligases and protease coordinate to regulate p53 stability, particularly after DNA damage is not clear. DNA damage checkpoints are signal transduction pathways that stop or delay the cell cycle progress in the presence of DNA damage. Two kinases, ATM and ATR, are key upstream regulators of this pathway. In a proteomic screen for novel substrates for our preliminary studies, we found that ring finger and WD repeat domain 3 (RFWD3) protein is a putative ATM/ATR substrate that is required for cell cycle arrest. Furthermore, we found that RFWD3 is required for stabilization of p53 in response to DNA damage. We hypothesize that RFWD3 is a novel E3 ligase that plays an important role in mammalian DNA damage response network in part by serving as a positive regulator of p53 stability. We propose to 1) determine the mechanism by which RFWD3 regulates DNA damage checkpoint;whether this is achieved by modulating p53 ubiquitination and stability;2) to map the RFWD3 phosphorylation sites and test how its phosphorylation by ATM/ATR regulates its function;3) to isolate RFWD3-associated complexes in cycling cells and in response to DNA damage and identify their components by mass spectrometry;
we aim to find and validate important RFWD3 regulators and its E3 ligase substrates, thus revealing clues for its other cellular functions. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVENCE: This is a newly identified putative ATM/ATR substrate that, when inactivated by siRNA, causes defects in p53 accumulation and cell cycle arrest. Thus, RFWD3 may play an important role in the mammalian DNA damage response network by serving as a novel E3 ligase that positively regulates p53 stability. Uncovering new positive regulator of p53 and understand its function will potentially advance our knowledge of cancer development and treatment.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
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Radiation Therapeutics and Biology Study Section (RTB)
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Hagan, Ann A
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Baylor College of Medicine
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