Research ArticleCancer

MDM2-mediated degradation of SIRT6 phosphorylated by AKT1 promotes tumorigenesis and trastuzumab resistance in breast cancer

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Sci. Signal.  29 Jul 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 336, pp. ra71
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005076

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Sirtuin 6 (SIRT6) is associated with longevity and is also a tumor suppressor. Identification of molecular regulators of SIRT6 might enable its activation therapeutically in cancer patients. In various breast cancer cell lines, we found that SIRT6 was phosphorylated at Ser338 by the kinase AKT1, which induced the interaction and ubiquitination of SIRT6 by MDM2, targeting SIRT6 for protease-dependent degradation. The survival of breast cancer patients positively correlated with the abundance of SIRT6 and inversely correlated with the phosphorylation of SIRT6 at Ser338. In a panel of breast tumor biopsies, SIRT6 abundance inversely correlated with the abundance of phosphorylated AKT. Inhibiting AKT or preventing SIRT6 phosphorylation by mutating Ser338 prevented the degradation of SIRT6 mediated by MDM2, suppressed the proliferation of breast cancer cells in culture, and inhibited the growth of breast tumor xenografts in mice. Overexpressing MDM2 decreased the abundance of SIRT6 in cells, whereas overexpressing an E3 ligase–deficient MDM2 or knocking down endogenous MDM2 increased SIRT6 abundance. Trastuzumab (known as Herceptin) is a drug that targets a specific receptor common in some breast cancers, and knocking down SIRT6 increased the survival of a breast cancer cell exposed to trastuzumab. Overexpression of a nonphosphorylatable SIRT6 mutant increased trastuzumab sensitivity in a resistant breast cancer cell line. Thus, stabilizing SIRT6 may be a clinical strategy for overcoming trastuzumab resistance in breast cancer patients.

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