Many oncogenes, including chimeric oncoproteins, require insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) for promoting cell transformation. The ETS variant 6 (ETV6)-neurotrophic receptor tyrosine kinase 3 (NTRK3) (EN) chimeric tyrosine kinase is expressed in mesenchymal, epithelial, and hematopoietic cancers and requires the IGF1R axis for transformation. However, current models of IGF1R-mediated EN activation are lacking mechanistic detail. We demonstrate here that IGF-mediated IGF1R stimulation enhances EN tyrosine phosphorylation and that blocking IGF1R activity or decreasing protein levels of the adaptor protein insulin receptor substrate 1/2 (IRS1/2) results in rapid EN degradation. This was observed both in vitro and in vivo in fibroblast and breast epithelial cell line models and in MO91, an EN-expressing human leukemia cell line. Stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture (SILAC)-based MS analysis identified the E3 ligase RING-finger protein 123 (Rnf123, more commonly known as KPC1) as an EN interactor upon IGF1R/insulin receptor (INSR) inhibitor treatment. KPC1/Rnf123 ubiquitylated EN in vitro, and its overexpression decreased EN protein levels. In contrast, KPC1/Rnf123 knockdown rendered EN resistant to IGF1R inhibitor-mediated degradation. These results support a critical function for IGF1R in protecting EN from KPC1/Rnf123-mediated proteasomal degradation. Attempts to therapeutically target oncogenic chimeric tyrosine kinases have traditionally focused on blocking kinase activity to restrict downstream activation of essential signaling pathways. In this study, we demonstrate that IGF1R inhibition results in rapid ubiquitylation and degradation of the EN oncoprote in through a proteasome-dependent mechanism that is reversible, highlighting a potential strategy for targeting chimeric tyrosine kinases in cancer.
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