Tumor cell-specific inhibition of MYC function using small molecule inhibitors of the HUWE1 ubiquitin ligase

Stefanie Peter, Jennyfer Bultinck, Kevin Myant, Laura A Jaenicke, Susanne Walz, Judith Müller, Michael Gmachl, Matthias Treu, Guido Boehmelt, Carsten P Ade, Werner Schmitz, Armin Wiegering, Christoph Otto, Nikita Popov, Owen Sansom, Norbert Kraut, Martin Eilers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deregulated expression of MYC is a driver of colorectal carcinogenesis, necessitating novel strategies to inhibit MYC function. The ubiquitin ligase HUWE1 (HECTH9, ARF-BP1, MULE) associates with both MYC and the MYC-associated protein MIZ1. We show here that HUWE1 is required for growth of colorectal cancer cells in culture and in orthotopic xenograft models. Using high-throughput screening, we identify small molecule inhibitors of HUWE1, which inhibit MYC-dependent transactivation in colorectal cancer cells, but not in stem and normal colon epithelial cells. Inhibition of HUWE1 stabilizes MIZ1. MIZ1 globally accumulates on MYC target genes and contributes to repression of MYC-activated target genes upon HUWE1 inhibition. Our data show that transcriptional activation by MYC in colon cancer cells requires the continuous degradation of MIZ1 and identify a novel principle that allows for inhibition of MYC function in tumor cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1525-41
Number of pages17
JournalEMBO Molecular Medicine
Issue number12
Early online date24 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Colorectal Neoplasms
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Oncogene Protein p55(v-myc)
  • Protein Binding
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases


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