Ubiquitination is a post-translational modification that targets specific proteins on their lysine residues. Depending on the type of ubiquitination, this modification ultimately regulates the stability or degradation of the targeted proteins. Ubiquitination is mediated by three different classes of enzymes: the E1 ubiquitin-activating enzymes, the E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes and, most importantly, the E3 ubiquitin ligases. E3 ligases are responsible for the final step of the ubiquitin cascade, interacting directly with the target proteins. E3 ligases can also be involved in DNA repair, cell cycle regulation and response to stress; alteration in their levels can be involved in oncogenic transformation and cancer progression. Of all the six hundred E3 ligases of the human genome, only three of them are specific to the mitochondrion: MARCH5, RNF185 and MUL1. Their alterations (that reflect on the alteration of the mitochondria functions) can be related to cancer progression, as underlined by the increasing research performed in recent years on these three mitochondrial enzymes. This review will focus on the function and mechanisms of the mitochondrial E3 ubiquitin ligases, as well as their important targets, in cancer development and progression, also highlighting their potential use for cancer therapy.
Di Gregorio J.
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