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Indian J Exp Biol. 2011 Nov;49(11):817-25.

Inhibition of mercapturic acid pathway-mediated disposal of 4-hydroxynonenal causes complete and sustained remission of human cancer xenografts in nude mice.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Immunology, University of North Texas Health Science Center, 3500 Camp Bowie Boulevard, Fort Worth, TX 76107, USA.


Environmental electrophilic chemical carcinogens are detoxified via mercapturic acid pathway to be excreted as mercapturic acid derivatives. Mercapturic acid pathway is also involved in the metabolism of pro-apoptotic and toxic endogenous electrophiles such as 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE). HNE is a common denominator in stress induced signaling and is a pro-apoptotic second messenger that affects cell cycle signaling in a concentration dependent manner. It can regulate signaling for apoptosis, differentiation, and gene expression by interacting with the transcriptional factors, transcriptional repressors, membrane receptors and other proteins. First two rate limiting enzymes of the mercapturic acid pathway, GSTs that conjugate HNE to glutathione (GSH), and RLIP76 that excludes GHS-HNE conjugate from cells, regulate the intracellular concentration of HNE. Thus GSTs and RLIP76 can have a profound effect on cell cycle signaling. Our studies have established that increased HNE levels in cells promote apoptotic signaling while at decreased levels below its basal constituted levels HNE promote proliferation. A major outcome of these findings is that by blocking the mercapturic acid pathway mediated detoxification of HNE through the inhibition of RLIP76 catalyzed transport of GS-HNE, a complete remission of many human cancer xenografts in mice can be achieved.

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