NFATc3 is the predominant member of the NFAT family of transcription factors in neurons, where it plays a pro-apoptotic role. Mechanisms controlling NFAT protein stability are poorly understood. Here we identify Trim39 as an E3 ubiquitin-ligase of NFATc3. Indeed, Trim39 binds and ubiquitinates NFATc3 in vitro and in cells where it reduces NFATc3 protein level and transcriptional activity. In contrast, silencing of endogenous Trim39 decreases NFATc3 ubiquitination and increases its activity, thereby resulting in enhanced neuronal apoptosis. We also show that Trim17 inhibits Trim39-mediated ubiquitination of NFATc3 by reducing both the E3 ubiquitin-ligase activity of Trim39 and the NFATc3/Trim39 interaction. Moreover, we identify Trim39 as a new SUMO-targeted E3 ubiquitin-ligase (STUbL). Indeed, mutation of SUMOylation sites in NFATc3 or SUMO-interacting motifs in Trim39 reduces NFATc3/Trim39 interaction and Trim39-induced ubiquitination of NFATc3. In addition, Trim39 preferentially ubiquitinates SUMOylated forms of NFATc3 in vitro. As a consequence, a SUMOylation-deficient mutant of NFATc3 exhibits increased stability and pro-apoptotic activity in neurons. Taken together, these data indicate that Trim39 modulates neuronal apoptosis by acting as a STUbL for NFATc3.
- Ubiquitin ligases