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1.  The Ubiquitin-Specific Protease USP15 Promotes RIG-I–Mediated Antiviral Signaling by Deubiquitylating TRIM25 
Science signaling  2014;7(307):ra3.
Ubiquitylation is an important mechanism for regulating innate immune responses to viral infections. Attachment of lysine 63 (Lys63)–linked ubiquitin chains to the RNA sensor retinoic acid–inducible gene-I (RIG-I) by the ubiquitin E3 ligase tripartite motif protein 25 (TRIM25) leads to the activation of RIG-I and stimulates production of the antiviral cytokines interferon-α (IFN-α) and IFN-β. Conversely, Lys48-linked ubiquitylation of TRIM25 by the linear ubiquitin assembly complex (LUBAC) stimulates the proteasomal degradation of TRIM25, thereby inhibiting the RIG-I signaling pathway. Here, we report that ubiquitin-specific protease 15 (USP15) deubiquitylates TRIM25, preventing the LUBAC-dependent degradation of TRIM25. Through protein purification and mass spectrometry analysis, we identified USP15 as an interaction partner of TRIM25 in human cells. Knockdown of endogenous USP15 by specific small interfering RNA markedly enhanced the ubiquitylation of TRIM25. In contrast, expression of wild-type USP15, but not its catalytically inactive mutant, reduced the Lys48-linked ubiquitylation of TRIM25, leading to its stabilization. Furthermore, ectopic expression of USP15 enhanced the TRIM25- and RIG-I–dependent production of type I IFN and suppressed RNA virus replication. In contrast, depletion of USP15 resulted in decreased IFN production and markedly enhanced viral replication. Together, these data identify USP15 as a critical regulator of the TRIM25- and RIG-I–mediated antiviral immune response, thereby highlighting the intricate regulation of innate immune signaling.
PMCID: PMC4008495  PMID: 24399297
2.  USP8 links the PTEN-Akt-AIP4 pathway to the control of FLIPS stability and TRAIL sensitivity in glioblastoma multiforme 
Cancer research  2010;70(12):5046-5053.
The anti-apoptotic protein FLIPS is a key suppressor of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) -induced apoptosis in human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells. We previously reported that a novel phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN)-Akt-atrophin interacting protein 4 (AIP4) pathway regulates FLIPS ubiquitination and stability, although the means by which PTEN and Akt were linked to AIP4 activity were unclear. We here report that a second regulator of ubiquitin metabolism, the ubiquitin-specific protease (USP) 8, is a downstream target of Akt, and that USP8 links Akt to AIP4 and the regulation of FLIPS stability and TRAIL resistance. In human GBM xenografts, levels of USP8 correlated inversely with pAkt levels, and genetic or pharmacologic manipulation of Akt regulated USP8 levels in an inverse manner. Over-expression of WT USP8, but not catalytically inactive USP8, increased FLIPS ubiquitination, decreased FLIPS half-life, decreased FLIPS steady-state levels, and decreased TRAIL resistance, while siRNA-mediated suppression of USP8 levels had the opposite effects. Because high levels of the USP8 deubiquitinase correlated with high levels of FLIPS ubiquitination, USP8 appeared to control FLIPS ubiquitination through an intermediate target. Consistent with this idea, over-expression of WT USP8 decreased ubiquitination of the FLIPS E3 ubiquitin ligase AIP4, an event previously shown to increase AIP4-FLIPS interaction, while siRNA-mediated suppression of USP8 increased AIP4 ubiquitination. Furthermore, the suppression of FLIPS levels by USP8 over-expression was reversed by introduction of siRNA targeting AIP4. These results show that USP8, a downstream target of Akt, regulates the ability of AIP4 to control FLIPS stability and TRAIL sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC2891229  PMID: 20484045
glioblastoma; TRAIL; ubiquitin; PTEN; USP8
3.  E1-Mediated Recruitment of a UAF1-USP Deubiquitinase Complex Facilitates Human Papillomavirus DNA Replication 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8545-8555.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) E1 helicase promotes viral DNA replication through its DNA unwinding activity and association with host factors. The E1 proteins from anogenital HPV types interact with the cellular WD repeat-containing factor UAF1 (formerly known as p80). Specific amino acid substitutions in E1 that impair this interaction inhibit maintenance of the viral episome in immortalized keratinocytes and reduce viral DNA replication by up to 70% in transient assays. In this study, we determined by affinity purification of UAF1 that it interacts with three deubiquitinating enzymes in C33A cervical carcinoma cells: USP1, a nuclear protein, and the two cytoplasmic enzymes USP12 and USP46. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments indicated that E1 assembles into a ternary complex with UAF1 and any one of these three USPs. Moreover, expression of E1 leads to a redistribution of USP12 and USP46 from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. Chromatin immunoprecipitation studies further revealed that E1 recruits these threes USPs to the viral origin in association with UAF1. The function of USP1, USP12, and USP46 in viral DNA replication was investigated by overproduction of catalytically inactive versions of these enzymes in transient assays. All three dominant negative USPs reduced HPV31 DNA replication by up to 60%, an effect that was specific, as it was not observed in assays performed with a truncated E1 lacking the UAF1-binding domain or with bovine papillomavirus 1 E1, which does not bind UAF1. These results highlight the importance of the USP1, USP12, and USP46 deubiquitinating enzymes in anogenital HPV DNA replication.
IMPORTANCE Human papillomaviruses are small DNA tumor viruses that induce benign and malignant lesions of the skin and mucosa. HPV types that infect the anogenital tract are the etiological agents of cervical cancer, the majority of anal cancers, and a growing proportion of head-and-neck cancers. Replication of the HPV genome requires the viral protein E1, a DNA helicase that also interacts with host factors to promote viral DNA synthesis. We previously reported that the E1 helicase from anogenital HPV types associates with the WD40 repeat-containing protein UAF1. Here, we show that UAF1 bridges the interaction of E1 with three deubiquitinating enzymes, USP1, USP12, and USP46. We further show that these deubiquitinases are recruited by E1/UAF1 to the viral origin of DNA replication and that overexpression of catalytically inactive versions of these enzymes reduces viral DNA replication. These results highlight the need for an E1-associated deubiquitinase activity in anogenital HPV genome replication.
PMCID: PMC4135941  PMID: 24850727
4.  USP7 and Daxx regulate mitosis progression and taxane sensitivity by affecting stability of Aurora-A kinase 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2013;20(5):721-731.
A large number of patients are resistant to taxane-based chemotherapy. Functional mitotic checkpoints are essential for taxane sensitivity. Thus, mitotic regulators are potential markers for therapy response and could be targeted for anticancer therapy. In this study, we identified a novel function of ubiquitin (Ub)-specific processing protease-7 (USP7) that interacts and cooperates with protein death domain-associated protein (Daxx) in the regulation of mitosis and taxane resistance. Depletion of USP7 impairs mitotic progression, stabilizes cyclin B and reduces stability of the mitotic E3 Ub ligase, checkpoint with forkhead and Ring-finger (CHFR). Consequently, cells with depleted USP7 accumulate Aurora-A kinase, a CHFR substrate, thus elevating multipolar mitoses. We further show that these effects are independent of the USP7 substrate p53. Thus, USP7 and Daxx are necessary to regulate proper execution of mitosis, partially via regulation of CHFR and Aurora-A kinase stability. Results from colony formation assay, in silico analysis across the NCI60 platform and in breast cancer patients suggest that USP7 levels inversely correlate with response to taxanes, pointing at the USP7 protein as a potential predictive factor for taxane response in cancer patients. In addition, we demonstrated that inhibition of Aurora-A attenuates USP7-mediated taxane resistance, suggesting that combinatorial drug regimens of Taxol and Aurora-A inhibitors may improve the outcome of chemotherapy response in cancer patients resistant to taxane treatment. Finally, our study offers novel insights on USP7 inhibition as cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3619237  PMID: 23348568
Daxx; USP7; mitosis; taxanes; Aurora-A; CHFR
5.  A Ubiquitin-specific Protease Possesses a Decisive Role for Adenovirus Replication and Oncogene-mediated Transformation 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(3):e1003273.
Adenoviral replication depends on viral as well as cellular proteins. However, little is known about cellular proteins promoting adenoviral replication. In our screens to identify such proteins, we discovered a cellular component of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway interacting with the central regulator of adenoviral replication. Our binding assays mapped a specific interaction between the N-terminal domains of both viral E1B-55K and USP7, a deubiquitinating enzyme. RNA interference-mediated downregulation of USP7 severely reduced E1B-55K protein levels, but more importantly negatively affected adenoviral replication. We also succeeded in resynthesizing an inhibitor of USP7, which like the knockdown background reduced adenoviral replication. Further assays revealed that not only adenoviral growth, but also adenoviral oncogene-driven cellular transformation relies on the functions of USP7. Our data provide insights into an intricate mechanistic pathway usurped by an adenovirus to promote its replication and oncogenic functions, and at the same time open up possibilities for new antiviral strategies.
Author Summary
Adenoviral infections can result in severe outcomes leading to mortality especially in children undergoing immunosuppressive therapies. Unfortunately, no specific anti-adenoviral treatments are available to treat disseminated adenoviral infections. We have set out to identify host factors promoting adenoviral growth and could identify the cellular protein Ubiquitin-specific protease 7 (USP7) being central to adenoviral infection. Here we show that USP7 interacts with the viral protein E1B-55K, a central regulator of adenoviral replication and adenoviral oncogene-mediated cellular transformation. We demonstrate that USP7 ensures stability and/or proper expression levels of adenoviral proteins at early and late time points of infection. Consistent with this, small-molecule inhibitors of USP7 showed efficient reduction of capsid protein levels and viral progeny numbers. Thus, USP7 inhibition might be a useful treatment option in the context of disseminated adenoviral infections. Moreover, we were also able to show that adenoviral oncogene-mediated cellular transformation can be hampered by USP7 disruption. In summary, this study shows that two different adenoviral disease mechanisms can be inhibited by targeting one host cellular factor.
PMCID: PMC3610741  PMID: 23555268
6.  USP1 deubiquitinase: cellular functions, regulatory mechanisms and emerging potential as target in cancer therapy 
Molecular Cancer  2013;12:91.
Reversible protein ubiquitination is emerging as a key process for maintaining cell homeostasis, and the enzymes that participate in this process, in particular E3 ubiquitin ligases and deubiquitinases (DUBs), are increasingly being regarded as candidates for drug discovery. Human DUBs are a group of approximately 100 proteins, whose cellular functions and regulatory mechanisms remain, with some exceptions, poorly characterized. One of the best-characterized human DUBs is ubiquitin-specific protease 1 (USP1), which plays an important role in the cellular response to DNA damage. USP1 levels, localization and activity are modulated through several mechanisms, including protein-protein interactions, autocleavage/degradation and phosphorylation, ensuring that USP1 function is carried out in a properly regulated spatio-temporal manner. Importantly, USP1 expression is deregulated in certain types of human cancer, suggesting that USP1 could represent a valid target in cancer therapy. This view has gained recent support with the finding that USP1 inhibition may contribute to revert cisplatin resistance in an in vitro model of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Here, we describe the current knowledge on the cellular functions and regulatory mechanisms of USP1. We also summarize USP1 alterations found in cancer, combining data from the literature and public databases with our own data. Finally, we discuss the emerging potential of USP1 as a target, integrating published data with our novel findings on the effects of the USP1 inhibitor pimozide in combination with cisplatin in NSCLC cells.
PMCID: PMC3750636  PMID: 23937906
Deubiquitinase; USP1; DNA damage; Chemoresistance
7.  Structure and Catalytic Regulatory Function of Ubiquitin Specific Protease 11 N-Terminal and Ubiquitin-like Domains 
Biochemistry  2014;53(18):2966-2978.
The ubiquitin specific protease 11 (USP11) is implicated in DNA repair, viral RNA replication, and TGFβ signaling. We report the first characterization of the USP11 domain architecture and its role in regulating the enzymatic activity. USP11 consists of an N-terminal “domain present in USPs” (DUSP) and “ubiquitin-like” (UBL) domain, together referred to as DU domains, and the catalytic domain harboring a second UBL domain. Crystal structures of the DU domains show a tandem arrangement with a shortened β-hairpin at the two-domain interface and altered surface characteristics compared to the homologues USP4 and USP15. A conserved VEVY motif is a signature feature at the two-domain interface that shapes a potential protein interaction site. Small angle X-ray scattering and gel filtration experiments are consistent with the USP11DU domains and full-length USP11 being monomeric. Unexpectedly, we reveal, through kinetic assays of a series of deletion mutants, that the catalytic activity of USP11 is not regulated through intramolecular autoinhibition or activation by the N-terminal DU or UBL domains. Moreover, ubiquitin chain cleavage assays with all eight linkages reveal a preference for Lys63-, Lys6-, Lys33-, and Lys11-linked chains over Lys27-, Lys29-, and Lys48-linked and linear chains consistent with USP11’s function in DNA repair pathways that is mediated by the protease domain. Our data support a model whereby USP11 domains outside the catalytic core domain serve as protein interaction or trafficking modules rather than a direct regulatory function of the proteolytic activity. This highlights the diversity of USPs in substrate recognition and regulation of ubiquitin deconjugation.
PMCID: PMC4020902  PMID: 24724799
8.  The ubiquitin-specific protease USP47 is a novel β-TRCP interactor regulating cell survival 
Oncogene  2009;29(9):10.1038/onc.2009.430.
Ubiquitin-specific proteases (USPs) are a subclass of cysteine proteases that catalyze the removal of ubiquitin (either monomeric or chains) from substrates, thus counteracting the activity of E3 ubiquitin ligases. Although the importance of USPs in a multitude of processes, from hereditary cancer to neurodegeneration, is well established, our knowledge on their mode of regulation, substrate specificity and biological function is quite limited. In this study we identify USP47 as a novel interactor of the E3 ubiquitin ligase, Skp1/Cul1/F-box protein β-transducin repeat-containing protein (SCFβ-Trcp). We found that both β-Trcp1 and β-Trcp2 bind specifically to USP47, and point mutations in the β-Trcp WD-repeat region completely abolished USP47 binding, indicating an E3-substrate-type interaction. However, unlike canonical β-Trcp substrates, USP47 protein levels were neither affected by silencing of β-Trcp nor modulated in a variety of processes, such as cell-cycle progression, DNA damage checkpoint responses or tumor necrosis factor (TNF) pathway activation. Notably, genetic or siRNA-mediated depletion of USP47 induced accumulation of Cdc25A, decreased cell survival and augmented the cytotoxic effects of anticancer drugs. In conclusion, we showed that USP47, a novel β-Trcp interactor, regulates cell growth and survival, potentially providing a novel target for anticancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC3869786  PMID: 19966869
ubiquitin; F-box proteins; β-Trcp; degradation
9.  Stabilization of the E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Nrdp1 by the Deubiquitinating Enzyme USP8 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(17):7748-7757.
Nrdp1 is a RING finger-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase that physically interacts with and regulates steady-state cellular levels of the ErbB3 and ErbB4 receptor tyrosine kinases and has been implicated in the degradation of the inhibitor-of-apoptosis protein BRUCE. Here we demonstrate that the Nrdp1 protein undergoes efficient proteasome-dependent degradation and that mutations in its RING finger domain that disrupt ubiquitin ligase activity enhance stability. These observations suggest that Nrdp1 self-ubiquitination and stability could play an important role in regulating the activity of this protein. Using affinity chromatography, we identified the deubiquitinating enzyme USP8 (also called Ubpy) as a protein that physically interacts with Nrdp1. Nrdp1 and USP8 could be coimmunoprecipitated, and in transfected cells USP8 specifically bound to Nrdp1 but not cbl, a RING finger E3 ligase involved in ligand-stimulated epidermal growth factor receptor down-regulation. The USP8 rhodanese and catalytic domains mediated Nrdp1 binding. USP8 markedly enhanced the stability of Nrdp1, and a point mutant that disrupts USP8 catalytic activity destabilized endogenous Nrdp1. Our results indicate that Nrdp1 is a specific target for the USP8 deubiquitinating enzyme and are consistent with a model where USP8 augments Nrdp1 activity by mediating its stabilization.
PMCID: PMC506982  PMID: 15314180
10.  Deubiquitinase USP9x Confers Radioresistance through Stabilization of Mcl-112 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2012;14(10):893-904.
Myeloid cell leukemia sequence 1 (Mcl-1), an antiapoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family, is often overexpressed in tumor cells limiting the therapeutic success. Mcl-1 differs from other Bcl-2 members by its high turnover rate. Its expression level is tightly regulated by ubiquitylating and deubiquitylating enzymes. Interaction of Mcl-1 with certain Bcl-2 homology domain 3 (BH3)-only members of the Bcl-2 family can limit the access to Mcl-1 ubiquitin ligase E3 and stabilizes the antiapoptotic protein. In addition, the overexpression of the deubiquitinase ubiquitin-specific protease 9x (USP9x) can result in the accumulation of Mcl-1 by removing poly-ubiquitin chains from Mcl-1 preventing its proteasomal degradation. Analyzing radiation-induced apoptosis in Jurkat cells, we found that Mcl-1 was downregulated more efficiently in sensitive parental cells than in a resistant subclone. The decline of Mcl-1 correlated with cell death induction and clonogenic survival. Knockdown of BH3-only proteins Bim, Puma, and Noxa did not affect Mcl-1 level or radiation-induced apoptosis. However, ionizing radiation resulted in activation of USP9x and enhanced deubiquitination of Mcl-1 in the radioresistant cells preventing fast Mcl-1 degradation. USP9x knockdown enhanced radiation-induced decrease of Mcl-1 and sensitized the radioresistant cells to apoptosis induction, whereas USP9x knockdown alone did not change Mcl-1 level in unirradiated cells. Together, our results indicate that radiation-induced activation of USP9x inhibits Mcl-1 degradation and apoptosis resulting in increased radioresistance.
PMCID: PMC3479835  PMID: 23097624
11.  Serine phosphorylation is critical for the activation of ubiquitin-specific protease 1 and its interaction with WD40-repeat protein UAF1 
Biochemistry  2012;51(45):9112-9123.
Deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) are important for the normal function of a number of cellular processes, including transcriptional regulation, cell cycle control, and DNA damage response. The enzymatic activity of DUB is regulated by different mechanisms. DUBs in several different families are post-translationally modified by phosphorylation. Large scale phosphoproteomic studies of human DUBs revealed that a majority of ubiquitin-specific proteases (USPs) are phosphorylated. USP1 is a prototypical DUB that requires a specific interaction with a WD40-repeat protein, UAF1, for its catalytic activity. In this study we show that Ser313 phosphorylation in USP1 is required for its interaction with UAF1 and for the stimulation of USP1’s activity. In contrast, two other known USP1 serine phosphorylations (Ser42 and Ser67) are dispensable with respect to the activity of the USP1/UAF1 complex. An S313D phosphomimetic mutation in USP1 can substitute for Ser313 phosphorylation in promoting the formation of the USP1/UAF1 complex. We further demonstrated that CDK1 is responsible for Ser313 phosphorylation, and protein phosphatase treatment of USP1 can lead to inactivation of USP1/UAF1. An inserted domain in USP1 (amino acids 235-408) was found to interact with UAF1, and this interaction is mediated by Ser313 phosphorylation. Our findings revealed an intriguing mechanism of regulating USP1 activity that combines phosphorylation of a key serine residue in USP1 and the specific interaction of USP1 with a WD40-repeat protein UAF1. The pSer313-dependent formation of USP1/UAF1 complex points to a new approach of inhibiting USP1 activity by disrupting the interaction between the UAF1’s WD40-repeat domain and the Ser313-containing phosphopeptide in USP1.
PMCID: PMC3617561  PMID: 23116119
12.  USP9X expression correlates with tumor progression and poor prognosis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Diagnostic Pathology  2013;8:177.
Ubiquitination is a reversible process of posttranslational protein modification through the action of the family of deubiquitylating enzymes which contain ubiquitin-specific protease 9x (USP9X). Recent evidence indicates that USP9X is involved in the progression of various human cancers. The aim was to detect the expression of USP9X in the progression from normal epithelium to invasive esophageal squamous cell cancer (ESCC) and evaluate the relevance of USP9X expression to the tumor progression and prognosis.
In this study, USP9X immunohistochemical analysis was performed on tissues constructed from ESCC combined with either normal epithelium or adjacent precursor tissues of 102 patients. All analyses were performed by SPSS 13.0 software.
We observed that the level of high USP9X expression increased gradually in the transformation from normal epithelium (4.0%), to low grade intraepithelial neoplasia (10.5%), then to high grade intraepithelial neoplasia (28.6%), and finally to invasive ESCC (40.2%). The expression of USP9X was found to be significantly different between the normal mucosa and ESCC (P < 0.001), and between low grade intraepithelial neoplasia and high grade intraepithelial neoplasia (p = 0.012). However, no difference was observed between the high expression of USP9X in normal mucosa and low grade intraepithelial neoplasia (P = 0.369), nor between high grade intraepithelial neoplasia and ESCC (p = 0.115). Interestingly, the most intensive staining for USP9X was usually observed in the basal and lower spinous layers of the esophageal epithelium with precursor lesions which often resulted in the earliest malignant lesion. USP9X expression status was positively associated with both depth of invasion (p = 0.046) and lymph node metastasis (p = 0.032). Increased USP9X expression was significantly correlated to poorer survival rate in ESCC patients (p = 0.001). When adjusted by multivariate analysis, USP9X expression (HR 2.066, P = 0.005), together with TNM stage (HR 1.702, P = 0.042) was an independent predictor for overall survival.
Up-regulation of USP9X plays an important role in formation and progression of precancerous lesions in ESCC and USP9X expression levels were significantly correlated with the survival of ESCC patients. Thus, USP9X could be considered as a potential biomarker and prognostic predictor for ESCC.
Virtual slides
The virtual slides for this article can be found here:
PMCID: PMC4016599  PMID: 24152793
Ubiquitin-specific protease 9x; Esophageal squamous cell cancer; Tumor progression; Survival
13.  Lysine 92 Amino Acid Residue of USP46, a Gene Associated with ‘Behavioral Despair’ in Mice, Influences the Deubiquitinating Enzyme Activity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26297.
Deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) regulate diverse cellular functions by their activity of cleaving ubiquitin from specific protein substrates. Ubiquitin-Specific Protease 46 (USP46) has recently been identified as a quantitative trait gene responsible for immobility in the tail suspension test and forced swimming test in mice. Mice with a lysine codon (Lys 92) deletion in USP46 exhibited loss of ‘behavioral despair’ under inescapable stresses in addition to abnormalities in circadian behavioral rhythms and the GABAergic system. However, whether this deletion affects enzyme activity is unknown. Here we show that USP46 has deubiquitinating enzyme activity detected by USP cleavage assay using GST-Ub52 as a model substrate. Interestingly, compared to wild type, the Lys 92 deletion mutant resulted in a decreased deubiquitinating enzyme activity of 27.04%. We also determined the relative expression levels of Usp46 in rat tissues using real-time RT-PCR. Usp46 mRNA was expressed in various tissues examined including brain, with the highest expression in spleen. In addition, like rat USP46, both human and mouse USP46 are active toward to the model substrate, indicating the USP cleavage assay is a simple method for testing the deubiquitinating enzyme activity of USP46. These results suggest that the Lys 92 deletion of USP46 could influence enzyme activity and thereby provide a molecular clue how the enzyme regulating the pathogenesis of mental illnesses.
PMCID: PMC3197135  PMID: 22043315
14.  USP22, an hSAGA subunit and potential cancer stem cell marker, reverses the polycomb-catalyzed ubiquitylation of histone H2A 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2008;7(11):1522-1524.
Initial studies of the mammalian hSAGA transcriptional coactivator complex identified the acetyltransferase hGCN5/PCAF as the only known enzymatic subunit. Recently we and others demonstrated that the ubiquitin hydrolase USP22 comprises a second enzymatic subunit of hSAGA, which is required for activator-driven transcription. USP22 is expressed with polycomb ubiquitin ligases in an 11 gene signature that defines therapy-resistant tumors. At the biochemical level, these Polycomb proteins function as global transcriptional repressors by catalyzing the ubiquitylation of histone H2A. In yeast, the USP22 homolog functions as a transcriptional coactivator by removing ubiquitin from a distinct core histones, H2B. Given that USP22 is expressed in cancer as part of an 11 gene signature that includes transcriptional repressors which ubiquitylate H2A, it seemed possible that USP22 might activate transcription in part via the deubiquitylation of this same substrate. As reported here, biochemical analysis of the substrate specificity of USP22 reveals that it deubiquitylates histone H2A in addition to H2B. This finding supports a model in which the H2A ubiquitin hydrolase USP22 is coordinately expressed with Polycomb H2A ubiquitin ligases in order that the transcription of certain critical transforming genes be maintained in the face of the global repression mediated by Polycomb.
PMCID: PMC2709765  PMID: 18469533
ubiquitin; USP22; hSAGA; histone; H2A; H2B; polycomb
15.  The deubiquitinating protein USP24 interacts with DDB2 and regulates DDB2 stability 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(23):4378-4384.
Damage-specific DNA-binding protein 2 (DDB2) was first isolated as a subunit of the UV-DDB heterodimeric complex that is involved in DNA damage recognition in the nucleotide excision repair pathway (NER). DDB2 is required for efficient repair of CPDs in chromatin and is a component of the CRL4DDB2 E3 ligase that targets XPC, histones and DDB2 itself for ubiquitination. In this study, a yeast two-hybrid screening of a human cDNA library was performed to identify potential DDB2 cellular partners. We identified a deubiquitinating enzyme, USP24, as a likely DDB2-interacting partner. Interaction between DDB2 and USP24 was confirmed by co-precipitation. Importantly, knockdown of USP24 in two human cell lines decreased the steady-state levels of DDB2, indicating that USP24-mediated DDB2 deubiquitination prevents DDB2 degradation. In addition, we demonstrated that USP24 can cleave an ubiquitinated form of DDB2 in vitro. Taken together, our results suggest that the ubiquitin-specific protease USP24 is a novel regulator of DDB2 stability.
PMCID: PMC3552920  PMID: 23159851
DDB2; UV-DDB; nucleotide excision repair; yeast two-hybrid; USP24; deubiquitination; deubiquitinase; XPE
16.  Direct and Indirect Control of Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase Pathway-associated Components, BRAP/IMP E3 Ubiquitin Ligase and CRAF/RAF1 Kinase, by the Deubiquitylating Enzyme USP15* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(51):43007-43018.
Background: Deubiquitylases (DUBs) oppose the action of E3-ligases and influence key signalling pathways.
Results: USP15 stabilizes the E3 ligase BRAP/IMP, regulates CRAF expression, and is a positive regulator of MEK.
Conclusion: USP15 is a positive regulator of the MAPK pathway while stabilizing the E3 ligase BRAP/IMP.
Significance: Evidence is provided for novel modes of MAPK pathway regulation by DUBs.
The opposing regulators of ubiquitylation status, E3 ligases and deubiquitylases, are often found to be associated in complexes. Here we report on a novel interaction between the E3 ligase BRAP (also referred to as IMP), a negative regulator of the MAPK scaffold protein KSR, and two closely related deubiquitylases, USP15 and USP4. We map the interaction to the N-terminal DUSP-UBL domain of USP15 and the coiled coil region of BRAP. USP15 as well as USP4 oppose the autoubiquitylation of BRAP, whereas BRAP promotes the ubiquitylation of USP15. Importantly, USP15 but not USP4 depletion destabilizes BRAP by promoting its proteasomal degradation, and BRAP-protein levels can be rescued by reintroducing catalytically active but not inactive mutant USP15. Unexpectedly, USP15 depletion results in a decrease in amplitude of MAPK signaling in response to EGF and PDGF. We provide evidence for a model in which the dominant effect of prolonged USP15 depletion upon signal amplitude is due to a decrease in CRAF levels while allowing for the possibility that USP15 may also function to dampen MAPK signaling through direct stabilization of a negative regulator, the E3 ligase BRAP.
PMCID: PMC3522295  PMID: 23105109
Deubiquitination; E3 Ubiquitin Ligase; MAP Kinases (MAPKs); Raf; Ubiquitin; BRAP; CRAF; DUB; IMP; USP15
17.  USP7/HAUSP Promotes the Sequence-Specific DNA Binding Activity of p53 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e13040.
The p53 tumor suppressor invokes cellular responses to stressful stimuli by coordinating distinct gene expression programs. This function relies heavily on the ability of p53 to function as a transcription factor by binding promoters of target genes in a sequence specific manner. The DNA binding activity of the core domain of p53 is subject to regulation via post-translational modifications of the C-terminal region. Here we show that the ubiquitin specific protease, USP7 or HAUSP, known to stabilize p53, also regulates the sequence-specific DNA binding mediated by the core domain of p53 in vitro. This regulation is contingent upon interaction between USP7 and the C-terminal regulatory region of p53. However, our data suggest that this effect is not mediated through the N-terminal domain of USP7 previously shown to bind p53, but rather involves the USP7 C-terminal domain and is independent of the deubiquitylation activity of USP7. Consistent with our in vitro observations, we found that overexpression of catalytically inactive USP7 in cells promotes p53 binding to its target sequences and p21 expression, without increasing the levels of p53 protein. We also found that the USP7 C-terminal domain was sufficient for p21 induction. Our results suggest a novel mode of regulation of p53 function by USP7, which is independent of USP7 deubiquitylating activity.
PMCID: PMC2946354  PMID: 20885946
18.  Reciprocal Activities between Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Regulatory Protein ICP0, a Ubiquitin E3 Ligase, and Ubiquitin-Specific Protease USP7 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(19):12342-12354.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) regulatory protein ICP0 stimulates lytic infection and the reactivation of quiescent viral genomes. These roles of ICP0 require its RING finger E3 ubiquitin ligase domain, which induces the degradation of several cellular proteins, including components of promyelocytic leukemia nuclear bodies and centromeres. ICP0 also interacts very strongly with the cellular ubiquitin-specific protease USP7 (also known as HAUSP). We have shown previously that ICP0 induces its own ubiquitination and degradation in a RING finger-dependent manner, and that its interaction with USP7 regulates this process. In the course of these studies we found and report here that ICP0 also targets USP7 for ubiquitination and proteasome-dependent degradation. The reciprocal activities of the two proteins reveal an intriguing situation that poses the question of the balance of the two processes during productive HSV-1 infection. Based on a thorough analysis of the properties of an HSV-1 mutant virus that expresses forms of ICP0 that are unable to bind to USP7, we conclude that USP7-mediated stabilization of ICP0 is dominant over ICP0-induced degradation of USP7 during productive HSV-1 infection. We propose that the biological significance of the ICP0-USP7 interaction may be most pronounced in natural infection situations, in which limited amounts of ICP0 are expressed.
PMCID: PMC1211536  PMID: 16160161
19.  Uropathogenic specific protein gene, highly distributed in extraintestinal uropathogenic Escherichia coli, encodes a new member of H-N-H nuclease superfamily 
Gut Pathogens  2013;5:13.
The uropathogenic specific protein (Usp) and three OrfU proteins (OrfU1, OrfU2 and OrfU3) are encoded in the putative small pathogenicity island which is closely associated with Uropathogenic Escherichia coli. Although homology search revealed that Usp and OrfUs have a homology with nuclease-type bacteriocins, which possess H-N-H nuclease motif, and immunity proteins respectively, the molecular activity of these proteins was never investigated. In this study, we try to over-express Usp in E. coli, purify Usp and characterize its molecular activity.
Recombinant Usp protein was expressed in E. coli BL21(DE3) cells together with 6× Histidine tagged OrfU1 (OrfU1-His) protein, and purified with affinity chromatography using Ni2+ chelating agarose. The nuclease activity of the purified Usp was examined in vitro by using plasmid DNA as a substrate. The importance of H-N-H motif in nuclease activity of Usp was examined by site-directed mutagenesis study.
We revealed that pET expression vector encoding Usp alone could not be maintained in E. coli BL21(DE3), and insertion of the orfUs as well as usp in the constructed plasmid diminished the toxic effect, suggesting that co-expressed OrfUs masked the activity of Usp. To purify Usp protein, we employed the expression vector encoding untagged Usp together with OrfU1-His. A tight complex formation could be observed between Usp and OrfU1-His, which allowed the purification of Usp in a single chromatographic step: binding of Usp/OrfU1-His complex to Ni2+ chelating agarose followed by elution of Usp from the complex with denaturing reagent. The purified free Usp was found to have the nuclease activity, and the activity was constitutively higher than Usp/OrfU1-His complex. H-N-H motif, which is found in various types of nucleases including a subfamily of nuclease-type bacteriocin, had been identified in the C-terminal region of Usp. Site-directed mutagenesis study showed that the H-N-H motif in Usp is indispensable for its nuclease activity.
This is the first evidence of the molecular activity of the new member of H-N-H superfamily and lays the foundation for the biological characterization of Usp and its inhibitor protein, OrfUs.
PMCID: PMC3685522  PMID: 23759109
Uropathogenic Escherichia coli; Pathogenicity island; Uropathogenic specific protein; Non-specific nuclease; H-N-H superfamily
20.  Compensatory increase in USP14 activity accompanies impaired proteasomal proteolysis during aging. 
The deubiquitinating enzyme, USP14, found in association with the proteasome is essential in mediating ubiquitin trimming and in ensuring ubiquitin-homeostasis. As aging is accompanied by a significant decline in proteasomal proteolysis in primary human T lymphocytes, we evaluated the contributory role of USP14 in this decline. Our studies for the first time demonstrate that enzymatic activity of proteasome-associated USP14 is significantly higher in T cells obtained from elderly donors. Additionally, such an increase in USP14 activity could be mimicked by chemically inhibiting the proteasome, using Lactacystin. Thus, USP14 activity appears to be reciprocally regulated by the catalytic function of the 26S proteasome. To determine whether the inhibition of USP14 activity counter regulates proteasomal proteolysis, T cells pretreated with a small molecule inhibitor of USP14, IU1, were activated and assessed for IκBα degradation as a measure of proteasomal proteolysis. While T cells obtained from young donors demonstrated increased degradation of IκBα, those from the elderly remained unaffected by IU1 pretreatment. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the decrease in proteolysis of proteasomal substrates during aging is independent of the increased USP14 activity and that the reciprocal regulation of USP14 and proteasomal catalytic activity may be necessary to maintain cellular ubiquitin homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3558606  PMID: 23291607
Aging; T Lymphocytes; Proteasome; Deubiquitinating enzyme; USP14; Ubiquitin
21.  USP8 Promotes Smoothened Signaling by Preventing Its Ubiquitination and Changing Its Subcellular Localization 
PLoS Biology  2012;10(1):e1001238.
Hedgehog regulates the activity of its signal transducer Smoothened by enhancing its interaction with the deubiquitinase USP8, thereby promoting Smoothened translocation to the cell surface and so enhancing Hh signaling.
The seven transmembrane protein Smoothened (Smo) is a critical component of the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway and is regulated by phosphorylation, dimerization, and cell-surface accumulation upon Hh stimulation. However, it is not clear how Hh regulates Smo accumulation on the cell surface or how Hh regulates the intracellular trafficking of Smo. In addition, little is known about whether ubiquitination is involved in Smo regulation. In this study, we demonstrate that Smo is multi-monoubiquitinated and that Smo ubiquitination is inhibited by Hh and by phosphorylation. Using an in vivo RNAi screen, we identified ubiquitin-specific protease 8 (USP8) as a deubiquitinase that down-regulates Smo ubiquitination. Inactivation of USP8 increases Smo ubiquitination and attenuates Hh-induced Smo accumulation, leading to decreased Hh signaling activity. Moreover, overexpression of USP8 prevents Smo ubiquitination and elevates Smo accumulation, leading to increased Hh signaling activity. Mechanistically, we show that Hh promotes the interaction of USP8 with Smo aa625–753, which covers the three PKA and CK1 phosphorylation clusters. Finally, USP8 promotes the accumulation of Smo at the cell surface and prevents localization to the early endosomes, presumably by deubiquitinating Smo. Our studies identify USP8 as a positive regulator in Hh signaling by down-regulating Smo ubiquitination and thereby mediating Smo intracellular trafficking.
Author Summary
The Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway is well known for its role in directing processes such as cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation during embryogenesis. The signal initiated by Hh binding to its receptor, Patched, is transduced by another protein called Smoothened (Smo), which moves from membranes inside the cell to accumulate on the cell surface when Hh binds. This accumulation of Smo on the cell surface is thought to play a central role in maintaining Hh signaling. In this study, we investigated how Hh controls the stability and movement of Smo inside the cell. We found that Smo is modified by addition of a small protein called ubiquitin (Ub), and that Hh regulates the ubiquitination of Smo. We identified an enzyme called USP8 that can remove the ubiquitin modification from Smo, thereby enhancing its signaling activity. Furthermore we show that Hh can enhance the interaction between Smo and USP8. Finally, we discovered that USP8 promotes the movement of Smo from inside the cell to the cell surface. We conclude that Hh promotes the deubiquitination of Smo by USP8, resulting in the relocation of Smo to the cell surface where it enhances Hh signaling.
PMCID: PMC3254663  PMID: 22253573
22.  Usp7 protects genomic stability by regulating Bub3 
Oncotarget  2014;5(11):3728-3742.
USP7 (Ubiquitin Specific processing Protease-7) is a deubiquitinase which, over the past decade emerged as a critical regulator of cellular processes. Deregulation of USP7 activity has been linked to cancer, making USP7 inhibition an appealing anti-cancer strategy. The identification of novel USP7 substrates and additional USP7-dependent cellular activities will broaden our knowledge towards potential clinical application of USP7 inhibitors. Results presented in this study uncover a novel and pivotal function of USP7 in the maintenance of genomic stability. Upon USP7 depletion we observed prolonged mitosis and mitotic abnormalities including micronuclei accumulation, lagging chromosomes and karyotype instability. Inhibition of USP7 with small molecule inhibitors stabilizes cyclin B and causes mitotic abnormalities. Our results suggest that these USP7-dependent effects are mediated by decreased levels of spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) component Bub3, which we characterized as an interacting partner and substrate of USP7. In silico analysis across the NCI-60 panels of cell lines supports our results where lower levels of USP7 strongly correlate with genomic instability. In conclusion, we identified a novel role of USP7 as regulator of the SAC component Bub3 and genomic stability.
PMCID: PMC4116516  PMID: 25003721
deubiquitinase USP7; Bub3; spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC); genomic instability; USP7 inhibitors
23.  USP7 counteracts SCFβTrCP- but not APCCdh1-mediated proteolysis of Claspin 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;184(1):13-19.
Claspin is an adaptor protein that facilitates the ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR)-mediated phosphorylation and activation of Chk1, a key effector kinase in the DNA damage response. Efficient termination of Chk1 signaling in mitosis and during checkpoint recovery requires SCFβTrCP-dependent destruction of Claspin. Here, we identify the deubiquitylating enzyme ubiquitin-specific protease 7 (USP7) as a novel regulator of Claspin stability. Claspin and USP7 interact in vivo, and USP7 is required to maintain steady-state levels of Claspin. Furthermore, USP7-mediated deubiquitylation markedly prolongs the half-life of Claspin, which in turn increases the magnitude and duration of Chk1 phosphorylation in response to genotoxic stress. Finally, we find that in addition to the M phase–specific, SCFβTrCP-mediated degradation, Claspin is destabilized by the anaphase-promoting complex (APC) and thus remains unstable in G1. Importantly, we demonstrate that USP7 specifically opposes the SCFβTrCP- but not APCCdh1-mediated degradation of Claspin. Thus, Claspin turnover is controlled by multiple ubiquitylation and deubiquitylation activities, which together provide a flexible means to regulate the ATR–Chk1 pathway.
PMCID: PMC2615094  PMID: 19124652
24.  Identifying USPs regulating immune signals in Drosophila: USP2 deubiquitinates Imd and promotes its degradation by interacting with the proteasome 
Rapid activation of innate immune defences upon microbial infection depends on the evolutionary conserved NF-κB dependent signals which deregulation is frequently associated with chronic inflammation and oncogenesis. These signals are tightly regulated by the linkage of different kinds of ubiquitin moieties on proteins that modify either their activity or their stability. To investigate how ubiquitin specific proteases (USPs) orchestrate immune signal regulation, we created and screened a focused RNA interference library on Drosophila NF-κB-like pathways Toll and Imd in cultured S2 cells, and further analysed the function of selected genes in vivo.
We report here that USP2 and USP34/Puf, in addition to the previously described USP36/Scny, prevent inappropriate activation of Imd-dependent immune signal in unchallenged conditions. Moreover, USP34 is also necessary to prevent constitutive activation of the Toll pathway. However, while USP2 also prevents excessive Imd-dependent signalling in vivo, USP34 shows differential requirement depending on NF-κB target genes, in response to fly infection by either Gram-positive or Gram-negative bacteria. We further show that USP2 prevents the constitutive activation of signalling by promoting Imd proteasomal degradation. Indeed, the homeostasis of the Imd scaffolding molecule is tightly regulated by the linkage of lysine 48-linked ubiquitin chains (K48) acting as a tag for its proteasomal degradation. This process is necessary to prevent constitutive activation of Imd pathway in vivo and is inhibited in response to infection. The control of Imd homeostasis by USP2 is associated with the hydrolysis of Imd linked K48-ubiquitin chains and the synergistic binding of USP2 and Imd to the proteasome, as evidenced by both mass-spectrometry analysis of USP2 partners and by co-immunoprecipitation experiments.
Our work identified one known (USP36) and two new (USP2, USP34) ubiquitin specific proteases regulating Imd or Toll dependent immune signalling in Drosophila. It further highlights the ubiquitin dependent control of Imd homeostasis and shows a new activity for USP2 at the proteasome allowing for Imd degradation. This study provides original information for the better understanding of the strong implication of USP2 in pathological processes in humans, including cancerogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4140012  PMID: 25027767
Innate immunity; Imd; NF-κB; Proteasome; RNA interference screen; Toll; Ubiquitin specific protease; USP2 (CG14619); USP34 (CG5794); USP36 (CG5505)
25.  Identification of Distinctive Patterns of USP19-Mediated Growth Regulation in Normal and Malignant Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15936.
We previously reported that the USP19 deubiquitinating enzyme positively regulates proliferation in fibroblasts by stabilizing KPC1, a ubiquitin ligase for p27Kip1. To explore whether this role of USP19 extends to other cellular systems, we tested the effects of silencing of USP19 in several human prostate and breast models, including carcinoma cell lines. Depletion of USP19 inhibited proliferation in prostate cancer DU145, PC-3 and 22RV1 cells, which was similar to the pattern established in fibroblasts in that it was due to decreased progression from G1 to S phase and associated with a stabilization of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27Kip1. However, in contrast to previous findings in fibroblasts, the stabilization of p27Kip1 upon USP19 depletion was not associated with changes in the levels of the KPC1 ligase. USP19 could also regulate the growth of immortalized MCF10A breast epithelial cells through a similar mechanism. This regulatory pattern was lost, though, in breast cancer MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells and in prostate carcinoma LNCaP cells. Of interest, the transformation of fibroblasts through overexpression of an oncogenic form of Ras disrupted the USP19-mediated regulation of cell growth and of levels of p27Kip1 and KPC1. Thus, the cell context appears determinant for the ability of USP19 to regulate cell proliferation and p27Kip1 levels. This may occur through both KPC1 dependent and independent mechanisms. Moreover, a complete loss of USP19 function on cell growth may arise as a result of oncogenic transformation of cells.
PMCID: PMC3022023  PMID: 21264218

Results 1-25 (1019858)