Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains a medical challenge due to its high proliferation and metastasis. Although deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) play a key role in regulating protein degradation, their pathological roles in HCC have not been fully elucidated. Methods: By using biomass spectrometry, co-immunoprecipitation, western blotting and immunofluorescence assays, we identify ribosomal protein S16 (RPS16) as a key substrate of ubiquitin-specific peptidase 1 (USP1). The role of USP1-RPS16 axis in the progression of HCC was evaluated in cell cultures, in xenograft mouse models, and in clinical observations. Results: We show that USP1 interacts with RPS16. The depletion of USP1 increases the level of K48-linked ubiquitinated-RPS16, leading to proteasome-dependent RPS16 degradation. In contrast, overexpression of USP1-WT instead of USP1-C90A (DUB inactivation mutant) reduces the level of K48-linked ubiquitinated RPS16, thereby stabilizing RPS16. Consequently, USP1 depletion mimics RPS16 deficiency with respect to the inhibition of growth and metastasis, whereas transfection-enforced re-expression of RPS16 restores oncogenic-like activity in USP1-deficient HCC cells. Importantly, the high expression of USP1 and RPS16 in liver tissue is a prognostic factor for poor survival of HCC patients. Conclusions: These findings reveal a previously unrecognized role for the activation of USP1-RPS16 pathway in driving HCC, which may be further developed as a novel strategy for cancer treatment.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research|
|State||Published - Dec 2021|
- Hepatocellular carcinoma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research