USP22 deficiency leads to myeloid leukemia upon oncogenic Kras activation through a PU.1-dependent mechanism

Johanna Melo-Cardenas, Yuanming Xu, Juncheng Wei, Can Tan, Sinyi Kong, Beixue Gao, Elena Montauti, Gina Kirsammer, Jonathan D. Licht, Jindan Yu, Peng Ji, John D. Crispino, Deyu Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Ras mutations are commonly observed in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML). JMML and CMML transform into acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in about 10% and 50% of patients, respectively. However, how additional events cooperate with Ras to promote this transformation are largely unknown. We show that absence of the ubiquitin-specific peptidase 22 (USP22), a component of the Spt-Ada-GCN5-acetyltransferase chromatin-remodeling complex that is linked to cancer progression, unexpectedly promotes AML transformation in mice expressing oncogenic KrasG12D/+. USP22 deficiency in KrasG12D/+ mice resulted in shorter survival compared with control mice. This was due to a block in myeloid cell differentiation leading to the generation of AML. This effect was cell autonomous because mice transplanted with USP22-deficient KrasG12D/+ cells developed an aggressive disease and died rapidly. The transcriptome profile of USP22-deficient KrasG12D/+ progenitors resembled leukemic stem cells and was highly correlated with genes associated with poor prognosis in AML. We show that USP22 functions as a PU.1 deubiquitylase by positively regulating its protein stability and promoting the expression of PU.1 target genes. Reconstitution of PU.1 overexpression in USP22-deficient KrasG12D/+ progenitors rescued their differentiation. Our findings uncovered an unexpected role for USP22 in Ras-induced leukemogenesis and provide further insights into the function of USP22 in carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-434
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - 26 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


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