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Reduced Expression of Deubiquitinase USP33 Is Associated with Tumor Progression and Poor Prognosis of Gastric Adenocarcinoma

Yan Chen, Xumei Pang, Lijuan Ji, Yingchun Sun, Yongjing Ji

(Department of Gastroenterology, Yidu Central Hospital of Weifang, Weifang, Shandong, China (mainland))

Med Sci Monit 2018; 24:3496-3505

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.908075

BACKGROUND: Ubiquitin-specific peptidase 33 (USP33) is a deubiquitinase that balances the ubiquitin status of proteins. It has been reported to act as a tumor suppressor in colorectal cancer and lung cancer. However, the expression pattern and clinical significance of USP33 have not been investigated in gastric adenocarcinoma (GAC).
MATERIAL AND METHODS: We explored the USP33 protein and RNA levels by immunohistochemistry (IHC), Western blot analysis, and qRT-PCR. The Pearson chi-square test was performed to evaluate the statistical associations between USP33 level and patient characteristics. Additionally, the relationship between USP33 expression and patient survival was investigated. Cellular studies, including proliferation assay, migration assay, and invasion assay, were conducted to demonstrate the underlying mechanisms of USP33 in GAC progression.
RESULTS: This study included 121 patients with GAC. USP33 showed a decreased expression in GAC tissues compared to adjacent normal gastric tissues. Low expression of USP33 was correlated with invasion depth and advanced TNM stage. According to survival analysis, upper location of tumor (P=0.003), invasion depth (P=0.048), advanced TNM stage (P=0.001), and low USP33 level (P=0.001) were all associated with poor overall survival of GAC patients. Cox analysis confirmed the independent role of USP33 in predicting patient survival. Cell experiments showed that USP33 overexpression significantly inhibited the proliferation, migration, and invasion of GAC cells.
CONCLUSIONS: USP33 was downregulated in GAC, and was an independent prognostic factor. In vitro results demonstrated the role of USP33 in suppressing tumor progression, suggesting that the developing an agonist of USP33 may be a novel direction for chemotherapy development.

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