Oncogenic ubiquitin-specific protease 22 (USP22) is implicated in a variety of tumours; however, evidence of its role and underlying molecular mechanisms in cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) development remains unknown. We collected paired tumour and adjacent non-tumour tissues from 57 intrahepatic CCA (iCCA) patients and evaluated levels of the USP22 gene and protein by qPCR and immunohistochemistry. Both the mRNA and protein were significantly upregulated, correlated with the malignant invasion and worse OS of iCCA. In cell cultures, USP22 overexpression increased CCA cell proliferation and mobility, and induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Upon an interaction, USP22 deubiquitinated and stabilized sirtuin-1 (SIRT1), in conjunction with Akt/ERK activation. In implantation xenografts, USP22 overexpression stimulated tumour growth and metastasis to the lungs of mice. Conversely, the knockdown by USP22 shRNA attenuated the tumour growth and invasiveness in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, SIRT1 overexpression reversed the USP22 functional deficiency, while the knockdown acetylated TGF-β-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) and Akt. Our present study defines USP22 as a poor prognostic predictor in iCCA that cooperates with SIRT1 and facilitates tumour development.
Cell Death Dis