SUMO (Small Ubiquitin-related MOdifier) is a post-translational modifier of the ubiquitin family controlling the function and fate of thousands of proteins. SUMOylation is deregulated in various hematological malignancies, where it participates in both tumorigenesis and cancer cell response to therapies. This is the case for Acute Promyelocytic Leukemias (APL) where SUMOylation, and subsequent destruction, of the PML-RARα fusion oncoprotein are triggered by arsenic trioxide, which is used as front-line therapy in combination with retinoic acid to cure APL patients. A similar arsenic-induced SUMO-dependent degradation was also documented for Tax, a human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV1) viral protein implicated in Adult T-cell Leukemogenesis. SUMOylation also participates in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) response to both chemo- and differentiation therapies, in particular through its ability to regulate gene expression. In Multiple Myeloma, many enzymes of the SUMO pathway are overexpressed and their high expression correlates with lower response to melphalan-based chemotherapies. B-cell lymphomas overexpressing the c-Myc oncogene also overexpress most components of the SUMO pathway and are highly sensitive to SUMOylation inhibition. Targeting the SUMO pathway with recently discovered pharmacological inhibitors, alone or in combination with current therapies, might therefore constitute a powerful strategy to improve the treatment of these cancers.
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