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p63 is a cereblon substrate involved in thalidomide teratogenicity

Asatsuma-Okumura T, Ando H, De Simone M, Yamamoto J, Sato T, Shimizu N, Asakawa K, Yamaguchi Y, Ito T, Guerrini L, Handa H
Nat Chem Biol. 2019;[Epub ahead of print] doi:10.1038/s41589-019-0366-7
Cereblon (CRBN) is a primary target of thalidomide and mediates its multiple pharmacological activities, including teratogenic and antimyeloma activities. CRBN functions as a substrate receptor of the E3 ubiquitin ligase CRL4, whose substrate specificity is modulated by thalidomide and its analogs. Although a number of CRL4CRBN substrates have recently been identified, the substrate involved in thalidomide teratogenicity is unclear. Here we show that p63 isoforms are thalidomide-dependent CRL4CRBN neosubstrates that are responsible, at least in part, for its teratogenic effects. The p53 family member p63 is associated with multiple developmental processes. ∆Np63α is essential for limb development, while TAp63α is important for cochlea development and hearing. Using a zebrafish model, we demonstrate that thalidomide exerts its teratogenic effects on pectoral fins and otic vesicles by inducing the degradation of ∆Np63α and TAp63α, respectively. These results may contribute to the invention of new thalidomide analogs lacking teratogenic activity.
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