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*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 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 (US)
Pages (from-to)423-434
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 26 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology

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