There is a positive feedback loop driving tumorigenesis and tumor growth through coordinated regulation of epigenetics, inflammation, and stemness. Nevertheless, the molecular mechanism linking these processes is not well understood. In this study, we analyzed the correlation of de-ubiquitinases (DUBs) expression with survival data from the OncoLnc database. Among the DUBs analyzed, ubiquitin specific protease 4 (USP4) had the lowest negative Cox coefficient. Low expression of USP4 was associated with poor survival among lung cancer patients and was inversely correlated with expression of stemness and inflammation markers. Expression of USP4 were reduced at more advanced stages of lung cancer. Mechanistically, expression of USP4 was downregulated in snail1-overexpressing and stemness-enriched lung cancer cells. Snail1 was induced in lung cancer cells by interaction with macrophages, and epigenetically suppressed USP4 expression by promoter methylation. Stable knockdown of USP4 in lung cancer cells enhanced inflammatory responses, stemness properties, chemotherapy resistance, and the expression of molecules allowing escape from immunosurveillance. Further, mice injected with USP4 knockdown lung cancer cells demonstrated enhanced tumorigenesis and tumor growth. These results reveal that the Snail1-mediated suppression of USP4 is a potential mechanism to orchestrate epigenetic regulation, inflammation and stemness for macrophage-promoted tumor progression.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research