USP42 protects ZNRF3/RNF43 from R-spondin-dependent clearance and inhibits Wnt signalling

Giebel, N., de Jaime-Soguero, A., Garcia Del Arco, A., Landry, J. J. M., Tietje, M., Villacorta, L., Benes, V., Fernandez-Saiz, V., Acebron, S. P. (2021). EMBO Rep 22, e51415.

DOI:10.15252/embr.202051415(link is external)


The tumour suppressors RNF43 and ZNRF3 play a central role in development and tissue homeostasis by promoting the turnover of the Wnt receptors LRP6 and Frizzled (FZD). The stem cell growth factor R-spondin induces auto-ubiquitination and membrane clearance of ZNRF3/RNF43 to promote Wnt signalling. However, the deubiquitinase stabilising ZNRF3/RNF43 at the plasma membrane remains unknown. Here, we show that the USP42 antagonises R-spondin by protecting ZNRF3/RNF43 from ubiquitin-dependent clearance. USP42 binds to the Dishevelled interacting region (DIR) of ZNRF3 and stalls the R-spondin-LGR4-ZNRF3 ternary complex by deubiquitinating ZNRF3. Accordingly, USP42 increases the turnover of LRP6 and Frizzled (FZD) receptors and inhibits Wnt signalling. Furthermore, we show that USP42 functions as a roadblock for paracrine Wnt signalling in colon cancer cells and mouse small intestinal organoids. We provide new mechanistic insights into the regulation R-spondin and conclude that USP42 is crucial for ZNRF3/RNF43 stabilisation at the cell surface.