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Deubiquitinases in cancer.

Ubiquitination is an essential regulator of most, if not all, signalling pathways, and defects in cellular signalling are central to cancer initiation, progression and, eventually, metastasis. The attachment of ubiquitin signals by E3 ubiquitin ligases is directly opposed by the action of approximately 100 deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) in humans. Together, DUBs and E3 ligases coordinate ubiquitin signalling by providing selectivity for different substrates and/or ubiquitin signals. The balance between ubiquitination and deubiquitination is exquisitely controlled to ensure properly coordinated proteostasis and response to cellular stimuli and stressors. Not surprisingly, then, DUBs have been associated with all hallmarks of cancer. These relationships are often complex and multifaceted, highlighted by the implication of multiple DUBs in certain hallmarks and by the impact of individual DUBs on multiple cancer-associated pathways, sometimes with contrasting cancer-promoting and cancer-inhibiting activities, depending on context and tumour type. Although it is still understudied, the ever-growing knowledge of DUB function in cancer physiology will eventually identify DUBs that warrant specific inhibition or activation, both of which are now feasible. An integrated appreciation of the physiological consequences of DUB modulation in relevant cancer models will eventually lead to the identification of patient populations that will most likely benefit from DUB-targeted therapies.

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