Research Papers:

Tumor necrosis factor related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) regulates deubiquitinase USP5 in tumor cells

Harish Potu, Malathi Kandarpa, Luke F. Peterson, Nicholas J. Donato and Moshe Talpaz _

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Oncotarget. 2019; 10:5745-5754. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27196

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Harish Potu1, Malathi Kandarpa1, Luke F. Peterson1, Nicholas J. Donato2 and Moshe Talpaz1

1 Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

2 Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

Correspondence to:

Moshe Talpaz,email: mtalpaz@med.umich.edu

Keywords: USP5; ubiquitin; TRAIL; DUB inhibitor; G9

Received: May 07, 2019     Accepted: August 22, 2019     Published: October 08, 2019


The tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) pathway has emerged as a cancer therapeutic target. However, clinical trials have proven that most human cancers are resistant to TRAIL. We show that exposure to recombinant TRAIL resulted in the accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins and free ubiquitin polymers, suggesting a link between TRAIL and the ubiquitin (Ub)-proteasome pathway. TRAIL treatment in cancer cells reduced the activity and cleavage of USP5, a deubiquitinase (DUB) previously shown to target unanchored Ub polymers and regulate p53-mediated transcription. TRAIL was effective in suppressing USP5 activity and cleavage in TRAIL-sensitive cells but not resistant cells. Knockdown of USP5 in TRAIL-resistant cells demonstrated that USP5 controls apoptotic responsiveness to TRAIL. USP5 cleavage and ubiquitination were blocked by caspase-8 specific inhibitors. A small-molecule USP5/9× inhibitor (G9) combined with TRAIL enhanced apoptosis and blocked colony growth in highly TRAIL-resistant cell lines. Finally, USP5 protein levels and activity were found to be frequently deregulated in TRAIL-resistant cells. Together, we conclude that activated TRAIL enhances USP5 activity and induces apoptosis in TRAIL-sensitive and -resistant cells. We also suggest that USP5 inhibition may be effective in inducing apoptotic thresholds to enhance responsiveness to TRAIL.

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