1. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Key Laboratory for Experimental Teratology of Chinese Ministry of Education, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Cheeloo College of Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, P. R. China.
2. Department of Microbiology, Key Laboratory for Experimental Teratology of Chinese Ministry of Education, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Cheeloo College of Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, P. R. China.
Deubiquitinase (DUB) dysregulation is closely associated with multiple diseases, including tumors. In this study, we used data from The Cancer Genome Atlas and Gene Expression Omnibus databases to analyze the expression of 51 ubiquitin-specific proteases (USPs) in gastric cancer (GC) tissues and adjacent non-neoplastic tissues. The Kaplan-Meier Plotter database was used to analyze the association of the differentially expressed USPs with the overall survival of patients with GC. The results showed that five USPs (USP5, USP10, USP13, USP21, and USP35) were highly expressed in GC tissues and were associated with poor prognosis in patients with GC. Because the epithelial-mesenchymal transition enables epithelial cells to acquire mesenchymal features and contributes to poor prognosis, we investigated whether these USPs had regulatory effects on the key epithelial-mesenchymal transition transcription factor Snail1. Our results showed that USP35 exhibited the most significant regulation on Snail1. Overexpression of USP35 increased and its knockdown decreased Snail1 protein levels. Mechanistically, USP35 interacted with Snail1 and removed its polyubiquitinated chain, thereby increasing its stability. Furthermore, USP35 promoted the invasion and migration of GC cells depending on its DUB activity. USP35 knockdown exhibited the opposite effect. Snail1 depletion partially abrogated the biological effects of USP35. Experiments using nude mouse tail vein injections indicated that wild-type USP35, but not the catalytically inactive USP35-C450A mutant, dramatically enhanced cell colonization and tumorigenesis in the lungs of mice. In addition, USP35 positively correlated with Snail1 expression in clinical GC tissues. Helicobacter pylori infection increased USP35 and Snail1 expression levels. Altogether, we found that USP35 can deubiquitinate Snail1 and increase its expression, thereby contributing to the malignant progression of GC. Therefore, USP35 may serve as a viable target for GC treatment.
Keywords: gastric cancer, deubiquitinase, USP35, Snail1, EMT