USP22 functions as an oncogenic driver in prostate cancer by regulating cell proliferation and DNA repair

Jennifer J. McCann, Irina A. Vasilevskaya, Neermala Poudel Neupane, Ayesha A. Shafi, Christopher McNair, Emanuela Dylgjeri, Amy C. Mandigo, Matthew J. Schiewer, Randy S. Schrecengost, Peter Gallagher, Timothy J. Stanek, Steven B. McMahon, Lisa D. Berman-Booty, William F. Ostrander, Karen E. Knudsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Emerging evidence indicates the deubiquitinase USP22 regulates transcriptional activation and modification of target substrates to promote pro-oncogenic phenotypes. Here, in vivo characterization of tumor-associated USP22 upregulation and unbiased interrogation of USP22-regulated functions in vitro demonstrated critical roles for USP22 in prostate cancer. Specifically, clinical datasets validated that USP22 expression is elevated in prostate cancer, and a novel murine model demonstrated a hyperproliferative phenotype with prostate-specific USP22 overexpression. Accordingly, upon overexpression or depletion of USP22, enrichment of cell-cycle and DNA repair pathways was observed in the USP22-sensitive transcriptome and ubiquitylome using prostate cancer models of clinical relevance. Depletion of USP22 sensitized cells to genotoxic insult, and the role of USP22 in response to genotoxic insult was further confirmed using mouse adult fibroblasts from the novel murine model of USP22 expression. As it was hypothesized that USP22 deubiquitylates target substrates to promote protumorigenic phenotypes, analysis of the USP22-sensitive ubiquitylome identified the nucleotide excision repair protein, XPC, as a critical mediator of the USP22-mediated response to genotoxic insult. Thus, XPC undergoes deubiquitylation as a result of USP22 function and promotes USP22-mediated survival to DNA damage. Combined, these findings reveal unexpected functions of USP22 as a driver of protumorigenic phenotypes and have significant implications for the role of USP22 in therapeutic outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-443
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


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