The deubiquitinase Usp27x as a novel regulator of cFLIPL protein expression and sensitizer to death-receptor-induced apoptosis

Apoptosis. 2022 Feb;27(1-2):112-132. doi: 10.1007/s10495-021-01706-9. Epub 2022 Jan 19.


Death receptors are transmembrane proteins that can induce the activation of caspase-8 upon ligand binding, initiating apoptosis. Recent work has highlighted the great molecular complexity of death receptor signalling, in particular through ubiquitination/deubiquitination. We have earlier defined the deubiquitinase Ubiquitin-Specific Protease 27x (Usp27x) as an enzyme capable of stabilizing the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member Bim. Here, we report that enhanced expression of Usp27x in human melanoma cells leads to the loss of cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (cFLIP) and sensitizes to Tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (TNF-R1) or Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3)-induced extrinsic apoptosis through enabling enhanced processing of caspase-8. The loss of cFLIPL upon overexpression of Usp27x was not due to reduced transcription, could be partially counteracted by blocking the ubiquitin proteasome system and was independent of the known cFLIPL destabilizing ubiquitin E3-ligases Itch and DTX1. Instead, Usp27x interacted with the E3-ligase TRIM28 and reduced ubiquitination of TRIM28. Reduction of cFLIPL protein levels by Usp27x-induction depended on TRIM28, which was also required for polyI:C-induced cell death. This work defines Usp27x as a novel regulator of cFLIPL protein expression and a deubiquitinase in fine tuning death receptor signalling pathways to execute apoptosis.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Caspase-8; TLR3; TNF; TRIM28; Usp27x.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Apoptosis* / genetics
  • CASP8 and FADD-Like Apoptosis Regulating Protein* / biosynthesis
  • CASP8 and FADD-Like Apoptosis Regulating Protein* / genetics
  • CASP8 and FADD-Like Apoptosis Regulating Protein* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases* / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • CASP8 and FADD-Like Apoptosis Regulating Protein
  • CFLAR protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • USP27X protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases