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Am J Pathol. 2010 May;176(5):2447-55. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.090606. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

The NADPH oxidase subunit p22phox inhibits the function of the tumor suppressor protein tuberin.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900, USA.


Mutations in the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene give rise to renal cell carcinoma. Reactive oxygen species, generated by Nox oxidases, are involved in tumorigenesis. We have previously demonstrated that in VHL-deficient cells, p22(phox)-dependent Nox1 and Nox4 oxidases maintain hypoxia inducible factor-2alpha (HIF-2alpha) protein expression through an Akt-dependent translational pathway. Phosphorylation of tuberin, by Akt, results in its inactivation. Here we show that diphenyleneiodonium chloride, an inhibitor of Nox oxidases, and small-interfering RNA-mediated down-regulation of p22(phox) inhibit Akt-dependent phosphorylation of tuberin and stabilizes tuberin protein levels in VHL-deficient renal carcinoma cells. p22(phox)-mediated inactivation of tuberin is associated with an increase in ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1 and eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein-1 (4E-BP1) phosphorylation as well as HIF-2alpha stabilization. Importantly, we find that marked up-regulation of p22(phox) in human renal cell carcinoma correlates with increased tuberin phosphorylation, decreased tuberin protein levels, and increased phosphorylation of 4E-BP1. Our data provide the first evidence that p22(phox)-based Nox oxidases maintain HIF-2alpha protein expression through inactivation of tuberin and downstream activation of ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1/4E-BP1 pathway.

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