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The Really Interesting New Gene (RING) Finger Protein 4 (RNF4) represents a class of ubiquitin ligases that target Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier (SUMO)–modified proteins for ubiquitin modification. To date, the regulatory function of RNF4 appears to be ubiquitin-mediated degradation of sumoylated cellular proteins. In the present study, we show that the Human T-cell Leukemia Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1) oncoprotein Tax is a substrate for RNF4 both in vivo and in vitro. We mapped the RNF4-binding site to a region adjacent to the Tax ubiquitin/SUMO modification sites K280/K284. Interestingly, RNF4 modification of Tax protein results in relocalization of the oncoprotein from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. Overexpression of RNF4, but not the RNF4 RING mutant, resulted in cytoplasmic enrichment of Tax. The RNF4-induced nucleus-to-cytoplasm relocalization was associated with increased NF-κB–mediated and decreased cAMP Response Element-Binding (CREB)–mediated Tax activity. Finally, depletion of RNF4 by RNAi prevented the DNA damage–induced nuclear/cytoplasmic translocation of Tax. These results provide important new insight into STUbL-mediated pathways that regulate the subcellular localization and functional dynamics of viral oncogenes.


Publisher Statement

This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants GM085792 to O.K. and CA76959 to O.J.S.), and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (supplement CA76959-S1 to O.J.S. and supplement GM085792-01S1 to O.K.).