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SUMOylation is a posttranslational modification (PTM) at a lysine residue and is crucial for the proper functions of many proteins, particularly of transcription factors, in various biological processes. Zinc finger homeobox 3 (ZFHX3), also known as AT motif-binding factor 1 (ATBF1), is a large transcription factor that is active in multiple pathological processes, including atrial fibrillation and carcinogenesis, and in circadian regulation and development. We have previously demonstrated that ZFHX3 is SUMOylated at three or more lysine residues. Here, we investigated which enzymes regulate ZFHX3 SUMOylation and whether SUMOylation modulates ZFHX3 stability and function. We found that SUMO1, SUMO2, and SUMO3 each are conjugated to ZFHX3. Multiple lysine residues in ZFHX3 were SUMOylated, but Lys-2806 was the major SUMOylation site, and we also found that it is highly conserved among ZFHX3 orthologs from different animal species. Using molecular analyses, we identified the enzymes that mediate ZFHX3 SUMOylation; these included SUMO1-activating enzyme subunit 1 (SAE1), an E1-activating enzyme; SUMO-conjugating enzyme UBC9 (UBC9), an E2-conjugating enzyme; and protein inhibitor of activated STAT2 (PIAS2), an E3 ligase. Multiple analyses established that both SUMO-specific peptidase 1 (SENP1) and SENP2 deSUMOylate ZFHX3. SUMOylation at Lys-2806 enhanced ZFHX3 stability by interfering with its ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. Functionally, Lys-2806 SUMOylation enabled ZFHX3-mediated cell proliferation and xenograft tumor growth of the MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line. These findings reveal the enzymes involved in, and the functional consequences of, ZFHX3 SUMOylation, insights that may help shed light on ZFHX3's roles in various cellular and pathophysiological processes. © 2020 Wu et al.


Rui Wu, Jiali Fang, Mingcheng Liu, Jun A, Jinming Liu, Wenxuan Chen, Juan Li, Gui Ma, Zhiqian Zhang, Baotong Zhang, Liya Fu, Jin-Tang Dong. SUMOylation of the transcription factor ZFHX3 at Lys-2806 requires SAE1, UBC9, and PIAS2 and enhances its stability and function in cell proliferation. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2020 May 08;295(19):6741-6753

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PMID: 32249212

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