Recurrent ubiquitin B silencing in gynecological cancers establishes dependence on ubiquitin C

Alexia T. Kedves, … , Michael S. Goldberg, William C. Forrester
J Clin Invest. 2017.

Transcriptional repression of ubiquitin B (UBB) is a cancer-subtype-specific alteration that occurs in a substantial population of patients with cancers of the female reproductive tract. UBB is 1 of 2 genes encoding for ubiquitin as a polyprotein consisting of multiple copies of ubiquitin monomers. Silencing of UBB reduces cellular UBB levels and results in an exquisite dependence on ubiquitin C (UBC), the second polyubiquitin gene. UBB is repressed in approximately 30% of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) patients and is a recurrent lesion in uterine carcinosarcoma and endometrial carcinoma. We identified ovarian tumor cell lines that retain UBB in a repressed state, used these cell lines to establish orthotopic ovarian tumors, and found that inducible expression of a UBC-targeting shRNA led to tumor regression, and substantial long-term survival benefit. Thus, we describe a recurrent cancer-specific lesion at the level of ubiquitin production. Moreover, these observations reveal the prognostic value of UBB repression and establish UBC as a promising therapeutic target for ovarian cancer patients with recurrent UBB silencing.

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