Nrf2 mediates redox adaptation in NOX4-overexpressed non-small cell lung cancer cells

The redox adaptation mechanisms in cancer cells are very complex and remain largely unclear. Our previous studies have confirmed that NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX4) is abundantly expressed in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and confers apoptosis resistance on NSCLC cells. However, the comprehensive mechanisms for NOX4-mediated oxidative resistance of cancer cells remain still undentified. The present study found that NOX4-derived H2O2 enhanced the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) stability via disruption of redox-dependent proteasomal degradation and stimulated its activity through activation of PI3K signaling. Specifically, the results showed that ectopic NOX4 expression did not induce apoptosis of A549 cells; however, inhibition of Nrf2 resulted in obvious apoptotic death of NOX4-overexpressed A549 cells, accompanied by a significant increase in H2O2 level and decrease in GSH content. Besides, inhibition of Nrf2 could suppress cell growth and efficiently reverse the enhancement effect of NOX4 on cell growth. The in vivo data confirmed that inhibition of Nrf2 could interfere apoptosis resistance in NOX4-overexpressed A549 tumors and led to cell growth inhibition. In conclusion, these results reveal that Nrf2 is critically involved in redox adaptation regulation in NOX4-overexpressed NSCLC cells. Therefore, NOX4 and Nrf2 may be promising combination targets against malignant progression of NSCLC.

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