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Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a clonal malignancy of hematopoietic stem cells featured with the fusion protein kinase BCR-ABL. To elicit the mechanism underlying BCR-ABL stability, we perform a screen against a panel of deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) and find that the ubiquitin-specific protease 7 (USP7) drastically stabilizes the BCR-ABL fusion protein. Further studies show that USP7 interacts with BCR-ABL and blocks its polyubiquitination and degradation. Moreover, USP7 knockdown triggers BCR-ABL degradation and suppresses its downstream signaling transduction. In line with this finding, genetic or chemical inhibition of USP7 leads to BCR-ABL protein degradation, suppresses BCR/ABL signaling, and induces CML cell apoptosis. Furthermore, we find the antimalarial artesunate (ART) significantly inhibits USP7/BCR-ABL interaction, thereby promoting BCR-ABL degradation and inducing CML cell death. This study thus identifies USP7 as a putative Dub of BCR-ABL and provides a rationale in targeting USP7/BCR-ABL for the treatment of CML.


Shuoyi Jiang, Xiaoge Wang, Yuanming He, Hongbiao Huang, Biyin Cao, Zubin Zhang, Jinbao Liu, Qi Wang, Zhenqian Huang, Xinliang Mao. Suppression of USP7 induces BCR-ABL degradation and chronic myelogenous leukemia cell apoptosis. Cell death & disease. 2021 May 07;12(5):456

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PMID: 33963175

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