Essential role of the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex in lymphoma revealed by rare germline polymorphisms

Yibin Yang, Roland Schmitz, Joseph Mitala, Amanda Whiting, Wenming Xiao, Michele Ceribelli, George W. Wright, Hong Zhao, Yandan Yang, Weihong Xu, Andreas Rosenwald, German Ott, Randy D. Gascoyne, Joseph M. Connors, Lisa M. Rimsza, Elias Campo, Elaine S. Jaffe, Jan Delabie, Erlend B. Smeland, Rita M. BrazielRaymond R. Tubbs, James R. Cook, Dennis D. Weisenburger, Wing C. Chan, Adrian Wiestner, Michael J. Kruhlak, Kazuhiro Iwai, Federico Bernal, Louis M. Staudt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Constitutive activation of NF-κB is a hallmark of the activated B cell-like (ABC) subtype of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), owing to upstream signals from the B-cell receptor (BCR) and MYD88 pathways. The linear polyubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC) attaches linear polyubiquitin chains to IκB kinase-γ, a necessary event in some pathways that engage NF-κB. Two germline polymorphisms affecting the LUBAC subunit RNF31 are rare among healthy individuals (~1%) but enriched in ABC DLBCL (7.8%). These polymorphisms alter RNF31 α-helices that mediate binding to the LUBAC subunit RBCK1, thereby increasing RNF31-RBCK1 association, LUBAC enzymatic activity, and NF-κB engagement. In the BCR pathway, LUBAC associates with the CARD11-MALT1-BCL10 adapter complex and is required for ABC DLBCL viability. A stapled RNF31 α-helical peptide based on the ABC DLBCL-associated Q622L polymorphism inhibited RNF31-RBCK1 binding, decreased NF-κB activation, and killed ABC DLBCL cells, credentialing this protein-protein interface as a therapeutic target. SIGNIFICANCE: We provide genetic, biochemical, and functional evidence that the LUBAC ubiquitin ligase is a therapeutic target in ABC DLBCL, the DLBCL subtype that is most refractory to current therapy. More generally, our findings highlight the role of rare germline-encoded protein variants in cancer pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-493
Number of pages14
JournalCancer discovery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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