Fbw7 and its counteracting forces in stem cells and cancer: Oncoproteins in the balance

Catherine A Cremona, Rocio Sancho, Markus E Diefenbacher, Axel Behrens

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Fbw7 is well characterised as a stem cell regulator and tumour suppressor, powerfully positioned to control proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis by targeting key transcription factors for ubiquitination and destruction. Evidence in support of these roles continues to accumulate from in vitro studies, mouse models and human patient data. Here we summarise the latest of these findings, highlighting the tumour-suppressive role of Fbw7 in multiple tissues, and the rare circumstances where Fbw7 activity can be oncogenic. We discuss mechanisms that regulate ubiquitination by Fbw7, including ubiquitin-specific proteases such as USP28 that counteract Fbw7 activity and thereby stabilise oncoproteins. Deubiquitination of key Fbw7 substrates to prevent their destruction is beginning to be appreciated as an important pro-tumourigenic mechanism. As the ubiquitin-proteasome system represents a largely untapped field for drug development, the interplay between Fbw7 and its counterpart deubiquitinating enzymes in tumours is likely to attract increasing interest and influence future treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-61
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Cancer Biology
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Cycle Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cell Differentiation/genetics
  • Cell Proliferation
  • F-Box Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors
  • F-Box-WD Repeat-Containing Protein 7
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms/etiology
  • Oncogene Proteins/genetics
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex/metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cells/cytology
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins/genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Ubiquitination


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