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Mol Cell. 2012 May 25;46(4):484-94. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.03.024. Epub 2012 Apr 26.

USP22 antagonizes p53 transcriptional activation by deubiquitinating Sirt1 to suppress cell apoptosis and is required for mouse embryonic development.

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Department of Pathology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


The NAD-dependent histone deacetylase Sirt1 antagonizes p53 transcriptional activity to regulate cell-cycle progression and apoptosis. We have identified a ubiquitin-specific peptidase, USP22, one of the 11 death-from-cancer signature genes that are critical in controlling cell growth and death, as a positive regulator of Sirt1. USP22 interacts with and stabilizes Sirt1 by removing polyubiquitin chains conjugated onto Sirt1. The USP22-mediated stabilization of Sirt1 leads to decreasing levels of p53 acetylation and suppression of p53-mediated functions. In contrast, depletion of endogenous USP22 by RNA interference destabilizes Sirt1, inhibits Sirt1-mediated deacetylation of p53 and elevates p53-dependent apoptosis. Genetic deletion of the usp22 gene results in Sirt1 instability, elevated p53 transcriptional activity and early embryonic lethality in mice. Our study elucidates a molecular mechanism in suppression of cell apoptosis by stabilizing Sirt1 in response to DNA damage and reveals a critical physiological function of USP22 in mouse embryonic development.

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