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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Cancer Research, Volume 78, Issue 15, August 2018, Pages 4215-4228.

The published version is available at Copyright © AACR


Syntaphilin (SNPH) inhibits the movement of mitochondria in tumor cells, preventing their accumulation at the cortical cytoskeleton and limiting the bioenergetics of cell motility and invasion. Although this may suppress metastasis, the regulation of the SNPH pathway is not well understood. Using a global proteomics screen, we show that SNPH associates with multiple regulators of ubiquitin-dependent responses and is ubiquitinated by the E3 ligase CHIP (or STUB1) on Lys111 and Lys153 in the microtubule-binding domain. SNPH ubiquitination did not result in protein degradation, but instead anchored SNPH on tubulin to inhibit mitochondrial motility and cycles of organelle fusion and fission, that is dynamics. Expression of ubiquitination-defective SNPH mutant Lys111!Arg or Lys153!Arg increased the speed and distance traveled by mitochondria, repositioned mitochondria to the cortical cytoskeleton, and supported heightened tumor chemotaxis, invasion, and metastasis in vivo. Interference with SNPH ubiquitination activated mitochondrial dynamics, resulting in increased recruitment of the fission regulator dynamin-related protein-1 (Drp1) to mitochondria and Drp1-dependent tumor cell motility. These data uncover nondegradative ubiquitination of SNPH as a key regulator of mitochondrial trafficking and tumor cell motility and invasion. In this way, SNPH may function as a unique, ubiquitination-regulated suppressor of metastasis.

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