UMMS Affiliation

Department of Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology

Publication Date


Document Type



Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Cancer Biology | Cell Biology


Apoptosis is a programmed cell death that efficiently removes damaged cells to maintain tissue homeostasis. Defect in apoptotic machinery can lead to tumor development, progression, and resistance to chemotherapy. PUMA (p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis) and BAX (BCL2-associated X protein) are among the most well-known inducers of apoptosis. It has been reported that expression levels of BAX and PUMA are controlled at the posttranslational level by phosphorylation. However, the posttranslational regulation of these proapoptotic proteins remains largely unexplored. In this study, using biochemical, molecular biology, flow cytometric, and immunohistochemistry techniques, we show that PUMA and BAX are the direct target of the F-box protein FBXL20, which restricts their cellular levels. FBXL20 directs the proteasomal degradation of PUMA and BAX in a protein kinase AKT1-dependent manner to promote cancer cell proliferation and tumor growth. Interestingly, inactivation of AKT1 results in activation of another protein kinase GSK3alpha/beta, which facilitates the proteasomal degradation of FBXL20 by another F-box protein, FBXO31. Thus, a switch between two signaling kinases AKT1 and GSK3alpha/beta modulates the functional activity of these proapoptotic regulators, thereby determining cell survival or death. RNAi-mediated ablation of FBXL20 results in increased levels of PUMA as well as BAX, which further enhances the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs. We showed that high level expression of FBXL20 in cancer cells reduces therapeutic drug-induced apoptosis and promotes chemoresistance. Overall, this study highlights the importance of targeting FBXL20 in cancers in conjunction with chemotherapy and may represent a promising anticancer strategy to overcome chemoresistance.


AKT, FBXO31, GSK3β, SCF complex, comet assay, immunoprecipitation, oligomerization

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Copyright © 2021 The Authors. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

DOI of Published Version



Manne RK, Agrawal Y, Malonia SK, Banday S, Edachery S, Patel A, Kumar A, Shetty P, Santra MK. FBXL20 promotes breast cancer malignancy by inhibiting apoptosis through degradation of PUMA and BAX. J Biol Chem. 2021 Oct;297(4):101253. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2021.101253. Epub 2021 Sep 26. PMID: 34587475; PMCID: PMC8507197. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of biological chemistry

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.