Interferon (IFN) signalling pathways, a key element of the innate immune response, contribute to resistance to conventional chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and immunotherapy, and are often deregulated in cancer. The deubiquitylating enzyme USP18 is a major negative regulator of the IFN signalling cascade and is the predominant human protease that cleaves ISG15, a ubiquitin-like protein tightly regulated in the context of innate immunity, from its modified substrate proteins in vivo. In this study, using advanced proteomic techniques, we have significantly expanded the USP18-dependent ISGylome and proteome in a chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)-derived cell line. USP18-dependent effects were explored further in CML and colorectal carcinoma cellular models. Novel ISGylation targets were characterised that modulate the sensing of innate ligands, antigen presentation and secretion of cytokines. Consequently, CML USP18-deficient cells are more antigenic, driving increased activation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and are more susceptible to irradiation. Our results provide strong evidence for USP18 in regulating antigenicity and radiosensitivity, highlighting its potential as a cancer target.

Citation Format: Benedikt Kessler. USP18 modulates the ISGylome immune signaling, and sensitizes tumor cells to irradiation and CTL recognition [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021; 2021 Apr 10-15 and May 17-21. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(13_Suppl):Abstract nr SY20-01.