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Pancreatic cancer (PC) ranked fourth among cancer-related death worldwide with a survival rate less than 5%. The abnormal proliferation and distant metastasis are major obstacles for the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer, therefore, it is urgent for researchers to uncover the molecular mechanisms underlying the PC proliferation and metastasis. In current study, we found that USP33, a member of deubiquitinating enzyme family, was upregulated among PC samples and cells, meanwhile, the high expression of USP33 correlated with poor prognosis of patients. Function experiments revealed that USP33 overexpression promoted the proliferation, migration and invasion of PC cells while the inhibition of USP33 expression in PC cells exhibited the opposite effect. The mass spectrum and luciferase complementation assay screened TGFBR2 as the potential binding protein of USP33. Mechanistically, USP33 triggered the deubiquitination of TGFBR2 and prevented its degradation by lysosome, therefore promoted TGFBR2 accumulation in cell membrane and eventually contributed to the sustained activation of TGF-β signaling. Moreover, our results revealed that the activation of TGF-β targeted gene ZEB1 promoted the transcription of USP33. In conclusion, our study found that USP33 contributed to the proliferation and metastasis of pancreatic cancer through a positive feedback loop with TGF-β signaling pathway. Moreover, this study suggested that USP33 may serve as a potential prognostic and therapeutic target in PC. © 2023. The Author(s).


Xinyuan Liu, Jian Xu, Bingbing Shen, Jichuan Xu, Jianxin Jiang. USP33 promotes pancreatic cancer malignant phenotype through the regulation of TGFBR2/TGFβ signaling pathway. Cell death & disease. 2023 Jun 15;14(6):362

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PMID: 37322017

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