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Ubiquitination, SUMOylation, and NEDDylation related genes serve as prognostic and therapeutic biomarkers for oral squamous cell carcinoma.

BACKGROUND: Ubiquitination, small ubiquitin-related modifiers, and NEDDylation are now found to function in cancer biology; however, its role in the oral cancer patients remains unclear.

METHODS: A set of bioinformatic tools was integrated to analyze the expression and prognostic significance of ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like (UB/UBL) genes. A UB/UBL-related risk score was developed via correlation analyses, univariate Cox regression, and multivariate Cox regression. Nomogram analysis evaluates the model's prediction performance. The drug sensitivity analysis, immune profiles of UB/UBL-classified oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) patients, and their related function pathway were investigated, and the role of UB/UBL-related genes in drug therapy was analyzed.

RESULTS: A total of six prognostic UB/UBL-related genes were obtained. PSMD3, PCGF2, and H2BC10 were significantly downregulated in OSCC tissue and associated with longer survival time. OSCC patients in the high-risk group showed a significantly lower overall survival and enriched in cancer-related pathways. The prognostic potential of genes associated with UB/UBL was discovered, and patients with high-risk scores showed an increase of protumor immune infiltrates and a high expression of immune checkpoints. Moreover, the area under the curve of the annual survival rate was 0.616, 0.671, and 0.673, respectively. Besides, patients in the high-risk group are more sensitive to docetaxel, doxorubicin, and methotrexate therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: We construct a prognosis model for OSCC patients with UB/UBL-related genes and try to find a new approach to treating oral cancer patients. The UB/UBL-related signature is helpful in developing new tumor markers, prognostic prediction, and in guiding treatment for OSCC patients.

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