USP29 coordinates MYC and HIF1α stabilization to promote tumor metabolism and progression

Oncogene. 2021 Nov;40(46):6417-6429. doi: 10.1038/s41388-021-02031-w. Epub 2021 Oct 2.


Tumor cells must rewire cellular metabolism to satisfy the demands of unbridled growth and proliferation. How these metabolic processes are integrated to fuel cancer cell growth remains largely unknown. Deciphering the regulatory mechanisms is vital to develop targeted strategies for tumor-selective therapies. We herein performed an unbiased and functional siRNA screen against 96 deubiquitinases, which play indispensable roles in cancer and are emerging as therapeutic targets, and identified USP29 as a top candidate essential for metabolic reprogramming that support biosynthesis and survival in tumor cells. Integrated metabolic flux analysis and molecular investigation reveal that USP29 directly deubiquitinates and stabilizes MYC and HIF1α, two master regulators of metabolic reprogramming, enabling adaptive response of tumor cells in both normoxia and hypoxia. Systemic knockout of Usp29 depleted MYC and HIF1α in MYC-driven neuroblastoma and B cell lymphoma, inhibited critical metabolic targets and significantly prolonged survival of tumor-bearing mice. Strikingly, mice homozygous null for the Usp29 gene are viable, fertile, and display no gross phenotypic abnormalities. Altogether, these results demonstrate that USP29 selectively coordinates MYC and HIF1α to integrate metabolic processes critical for cancer cell growth, and therapeutic targeting of USP29, a potentially targetable enzyme, could create a unique vulnerability given deregulation of MYC and HIF1α frequently occurs in human cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / chemistry*
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / genetics
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / metabolism
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neuroblastoma / genetics
  • Neuroblastoma / metabolism
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / chemistry*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Tumor Hypoxia
  • Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitination


  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • MYC protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • USP29 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases