USP22 suppresses SPARC expression in acute colitis and inflammation-associated colorectal cancer

Robyn Laura Kosinsky, Dominik Saul, Christoph Ammer-Herrmenau, William A. Faubion, Albrecht Neesse, Steven A. Johnsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As a member of the 11-gene “death-from-cancer” gene expression signature, ubiquitin-specific protease 22 (USP22) has been considered an oncogene in various human malignancies, including colorectal cancer (CRC). We recently identified an unexpected tumor-suppressive function of USP22 in CRC and detected intestinal inflammation after Usp22 deletion in mice. We aimed to investigate the function of USP22 in intestinal inflammation as well as inflammation-associated CRC. We evaluated the effects of a conditional, intestine-specific knockout of Usp22 during dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis and in a model for inflammation-associated CRC. Mice were analyzed phenotypically and histologically. Differentially regulated genes were identified in USP22-deficient human CRC cells and the occupancy of active histone markers was determined using chromatin immunoprecipitation. The knockout of Usp22 increased inflammation-associated symptoms after DSS treatment locally and systemically. In addition, Usp22 deletion resulted in increased inflammation-associated colorectal tumor growth. Mechanistically, USP22 depletion in human CRC cells induced a profound upregulation of secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC) by affecting H3K27ac and H2Bub1 occupancy on the SPARC gene. The induction of SPARC was confirmed in vivo in our intestinal Usp22-deficient mice. Together, our findings uncover that USP22 controls SPARC expression and inflammation intensity in colitis and CRC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1817
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2 2021


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Epigenetics
  • H2Bub1
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • USP22

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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