Pontin and Reptin are closely related proteins belonging to the AAA+ (ATPases Associated with various cellular Activities) family. They form a hetero-oligomeric complex, Pontin/Reptin, which is involved in protein stability and assembly of the protein complexes as a molecular chaperone. Overexpression of Pontin and Reptin in tumor cells has been reported and is implicated in the development of various cancers. However, the molecular mechanism of Pontin/Reptin function in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) development remains unclear. Here, we identify HEAT repeat-containing protein 1 (HEATR1) as a novel binding factor of Pontin/Reptin. Functionally, HEATR1 stabilizes Pontin/Reptin and positively regulates OSCC cell proliferation by activating mTOR and pre-rRNA synthesis. We also find that HEATR1 expression is markedly upregulated in tumor region of OSCC tissue. Hence, we propose that HEATR1 is involved in the regulation of mTOR and ribosome biogenesis as a potential protein stabilizer of Pontin/Reptin in OSCC.
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