Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)

Deubiquitinase USP9x confers radioresistance through stabilization of Mcl-1.

PMID 23097624


Myeloid cell leukemia sequence 1 (Mcl-1), an antiapoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family, is often overexpressed in tumor cells limiting the therapeutic success. Mcl-1 differs from other Bcl-2 members by its high turnover rate. Its expression level is tightly regulated by ubiquitylating and deubiquitylating enzymes. Interaction of Mcl-1 with certain Bcl-2 homology domain 3 (BH3)-only members of the Bcl-2 family can limit the access to Mcl-1 ubiquitin ligase E3 and stabilizes the antiapoptotic protein. In addition, the overexpression of the deubiquitinase ubiquitin-specific protease 9x (USP9x) can result in the accumulation of Mcl-1 by removing poly-ubiquitin chains from Mcl-1 preventing its proteasomal degradation. Analyzing radiation-induced apoptosis in Jurkat cells, we found that Mcl-1 was downregulated more efficiently in sensitive parental cells than in a resistant subclone. The decline of Mcl-1 correlated with cell death induction and clonogenic survival. Knockdown of BH3-only proteins Bim, Puma, and Noxa did not affect Mcl-1 level or radiation-induced apoptosis. However, ionizing radiation resulted in activation of USP9x and enhanced deubiquitination of Mcl-1 in the radioresistant cells preventing fast Mcl-1 degradation. USP9x knockdown enhanced radiation-induced decrease of Mcl-1 and sensitized the radioresistant cells to apoptosis induction, whereas USP9x knockdown alone did not change Mcl-1 level in unirradiated cells. Together, our results indicate that radiation-induced activation of USP9x inhibits Mcl-1 degradation and apoptosis resulting in increased radioresistance.