Trib1, Trib2, and Trib3 are mammalian homologues of the Tribbles protein family, an evolutionarily conserved group of proteins that can mediate proteasome-dependent degradation. Evidence suggests that these proteins function as adapters, where they recruit E3 ligases and enhance ubiquination of the target protein in order to promote its degradation. To date, increased Trib1 and Trib2 mRNA expression has been shown to correlate with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in humans and induces AML in mice; whereas Trib3 has not been associated with AML. In order to understand the effects of Trib family members in hematopoietic cells, we reconstituted mice with hematopoietic progenitors retrovirally expressing Trib1, Trib2, or Trib3. Trib1 and Trib2 mice developed AML whereas Trib3 mice did not. Our previous data suggested that Trib2-mediated degradation of the transcription factor, C/EBPα, is important for leukemogenesis. We now show that Trib1, like Trib2, strongly binds C/EBPα and induces its degradation. In contrast, Trib3 weakly binds C/EBPα and fails to induce its degradation. Consistent with the ability to strongly bind and degrade C/EBPα, Trib1 and Trib2, but not Trib3, block differentiation of myeloid cells. We are currently mapping the domains that account for the differences between Trib1/Trib2 and Trib3 in leukemogenesis. Together, our results strengthen the correlation between Trib-induced C/EBPα degradation and induction of AML. Furthermore, our data show that different Tribbles family members have distinct targets and understanding this specificity may provide opportunities to therapeutically target Tribbles.

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