The Deubiquitinase USP38 Promotes NHEJ Repair through Regulation of HDAC1 Activity and Regulates Cancer Cell Response to Genotoxic Insults
The DNA damage response (DDR) is essential for maintaining genome integrity. Mounting evidence reveals that protein modifications play vital roles in the DDR. Here, we show that USP38 is involved in the DDR by regulating the activity of HDAC1. In response to DNA damage, USP38 interacted with HDAC1 and specifically removed the K63-linked ubiquitin chain promoting the deacetylase activity of HDAC1. As a result, HDAC1 was able to deacetylate H3K56. USP38 deletion resulted in persistent focal accumulation of NHEJ factors at DNA damage sites and impaired NHEJ efficiency, causing genome instability and sensitizing cancer cells to genotoxic insults. Knockout of USP38 rendered mice hypersensitive to IR and shortened survival. In addition, USP38 was expressed at low levels in certain types of cancers including renal cell carcinoma, indicating dysregulation of USP38 expression contributes to genomic instability and may lead to tumorigenesis. In summary, this study identifies a critical role of USP38 in modulating genome integrity and cancer cell resistance to genotoxic insults by deubiquitinating HDAC1 and regulating its deacetylation activity.