The emerging role for Cullin 4 family of E3 ligases in tumorigenesis

Ji Cheng, Jianping Guo, Brian J. North, Kaixiong Tao, Pengbo Zhou, Wenyi Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


As a member of the Cullin-RING ligase family, Cullin-RING ligase 4 (CRL4) has drawn much attention due to its broad regulatory roles under physiological and pathological conditions, especially in neoplastic events. Based on evidence from knockout and transgenic mouse models, human clinical data, and biochemical interactions, we summarize the distinct roles of the CRL4 E3 ligase complexes in tumorigenesis, which appears to be tissue- and context-dependent. Notably, targeting CRL4 has recently emerged as a noval anti-cancer strategy, including thalidomide and its derivatives that bind to the substrate recognition receptor cereblon (CRBN), and anticancer sulfonamides that target DCAF15 to suppress the neoplastic proliferation of multiple myeloma and colorectal cancers, respectively. To this end, PROTACs have been developed as a group of engineered bi-functional chemical glues that induce the ubiquitination-mediated degradation of substrates via recruiting E3 ligases, such as CRL4 (CRBN) and CRL2 (pVHL). We summarize the recent major advances in the CRL4 research field towards understanding its involvement in tumorigenesis and further discuss its clinical implications. The anti-tumor effects using the PROTAC approach to target the degradation of undruggable targets are also highlighted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-159
Number of pages22
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Reviews on Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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