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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has emerged as one of the most prevalent life-threatening cancers, and the high mortality rate is largely due to the metastasis. The sustained activation of Smad4 and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) is closely associated with advanced HCC metastasis. However, the regulatory mechanism underlying the aberrant activation of Smad4 and TGF-β pathway remains elusive. In this study, using a functional screen of USPs siRNA library, we identified ubiquitin-specific proteases USP10 as a deubiquitinating enzyme (DUB) that sustains the protein level of Smad4 and activates TGF-β signaling. Further analysis showed that USP10 directly interacts with Smad4 and stabilizes it through the cleavage of its proteolytic ubiquitination, thus promoting HCC metastasis. The suppression of USP10 by either shRNAs or catalytic inhibitor Spautin-1 significantly inhibited the migration of HCC cells, whereas the reconstitution of Smad4 was able to efficiently rescue this defect. Overall, our study not only uncovers the regulatory effect of USP10 on the protein abundance of Smad4, but also indicates that USP10 could be regarded as a potential intervention target for the metastatic HCC in Smad4-positive patients. © 2019 The Authors. Published by FEBS Press and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Tao Yuan, Zibo Chen, Fangjie Yan, Meijia Qian, Hong Luo, Song Ye, Ji Cao, Meidan Ying, Xiaoyang Dai, Renhua Gai, Bo Yang, Qiaojun He, Hong Zhu. Deubiquitinating enzyme USP10 promotes hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis through deubiquitinating and stabilizing Smad4 protein. Molecular oncology. 2020 Jan;14(1):197-210

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PMID: 31721429

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