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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jan 1989; 86(1): 99–103.
PMCID: PMC286411

Heme oxygenase is the major 32-kDa stress protein induced in human skin fibroblasts by UVA radiation, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium arsenite.


We have shown that UVA (320-380 nm) radiation, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium arsenite induce a stress protein of approximately 32 kDa in human skin fibroblasts. The synthesis and cloning of cDNA from arsenite-induced mRNA populations have now allowed us to unequivocally identify the 32-kDa protein as heme oxygenase. By mRNA analysis we have shown that the heme oxygenase gene is also induced in cultured human skin fibroblasts by UVA radiation, hydrogen peroxide, cadmium chloride, iodoacetamide, and menadione. The known antioxidant properties of heme catabolites taken together with the observation of a high level of induction of the enzyme in cells from an organ not involved in hemoglobin breakdown strongly supports the proposal that the induction of heme oxygenase may be a general response to oxidant stress and constitutes an important cellular defense mechanism against oxidative damage.

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