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Sci Rep. 2019 Aug 27;9(1):12437. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48763-4.

PIDD interaction with KEAP1 as a new mutation-independent mechanism to promote NRF2 stabilization and chemoresistance in NSCLC.

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Department of Pathology, Medical College of Nantong University, Nantong, Jiangsu, 226001, China.
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1L7, Canada.
Department of Tuberculosis, the Sixth Hospital of Nantong, Nantong, Jiangsu, 226000, China.
Department of Oncology, Jiangyin People's Hospital, Jiangyin, China.
Department of Thoracic Surgery, Affiliated Hospital of Nantong University, Nantong, 226001, Jiangsu, China.
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1L7, Canada.
Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1L7, Canada.


Chemotherapy resistance is a major problem in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treatment. A major mechanism of chemoresistance involves stabilization of the NRF2 transcription factor. NRF2 levels are normally tightly regulated through interaction with KEAP1, an adaptor that targets NRF2 to the CUL3 E3 ubiquitin ligase for proteolysis. In NSCLC, aberrant NRF2 stabilization is best understood through mutations in NRF2, KEAP1, or CUL3 that disrupt their interaction. Biochemical studies, however, have revealed that NRF2 can also be stabilized through expression of KEAP1-interacting proteins that competitively sequester KEAP1 away from NRF2. Here, we have identified PIDD, as a novel KEAP1-interactor in NSCLC that regulates NRF2. We show that this interaction allows PIDD to reduce NRF2 ubiquitination and increase its stability. We also demonstrate that PIDD promotes chemoresistance in NSCLC cells both in vitro and in vivo, and that this effect is dependent on NRF2. Finally, we report that NRF2 protein expression in a NSCLC cohort exceeds the typical incidence of combined NRF2, KEAP1, and CUL3 mutations, and that NRF2 expression in this cohort is correlated with PIDD levels. Our data identify PIDD as a new NRF2 regulator, and suggest that variations in PIDD levels contribute to differential chemosensitivities among NSCLC patients.

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