SOX9 is a master transcription factor that regulates development and stem cell programs. However, its potential oncogenic activity and regulatory mechanisms that control SOX9 protein stability are poorly understood. Here, we show that SOX9 is a substrate of FBW7, a tumor suppressor, and a SCF (SKP1/CUL1/F-box)-type ubiquitin ligase. FBW7 recognizes a conserved degron surrounding threonine 236 (T236) in SOX9 that is phosphorylated by GSK3 kinase and consequently degraded by SCFFBW 7α. Failure to degrade SOX9 promotes migration, metastasis, and treatment resistance in medulloblastoma, one of the most common childhood brain tumors. FBW7 is either mutated or downregulated in medulloblastoma, and in cases where FBW7 mRNA levels are low, SOX9 protein is significantly elevated and this phenotype is associated with metastasis at diagnosis and poor patient outcome. Transcriptional profiling of medulloblastoma cells expressing a degradation-resistant SOX9 mutant reveals activation of pro-metastatic genes and genes linked to cisplatin resistance. Finally, we show that pharmacological inhibition of PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway activity destabilizes SOX9 in a GSK3/FBW7-dependent manner, rendering medulloblastoma cells sensitive to cytostatic treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)