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Hepatology. 2019 Oct 3. doi: 10.1002/hep.30978. [Epub ahead of print]

Loss of Xanthine Oxidoreductase Potentiates Propagation of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Stem Cells.

Sun Q1,2, Zhang Z1,2, Lu Y1,2, Liu Q1, Xu X1, Xu J2, Liu Y1,2, Yu H1, Yu D1, Sun B1,2,3.

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Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, The Affiliated Drum Tower Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, 210008, P. R. China.
Liver Transplantation Center, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, 210029, P. R. China.
State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Nanjing University, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, 210061, P.R. China.


Liver cancer stem cells (CSCs) exist in the tumor environment and are critically involved in the initiation and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of self-renewal and maintenance of liver CSCs remain poorly understood. Herein, we identified that xanthine oxidoreductase (XOR), which was expressed at low levels in human HCC samples and liver CSCs, restrained HCC formation and chemoresistance by attenuating liver CSCs propagation. Mechanistically, XOR physically interacts with USP15, thereby promoting deubiquitination of Kelch Like ECH Associated Protein 1 (KEAP1) to stabilize its expression, which leads to degradation of Nrf2 via ubiquitination and subsequently reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation in liver CSCs. Finally, our data reveal that XOR promotes USP15 mediated Nrf2-KEAP1 signaling to block liver CSCs and tumor propagation. CONCLUSION: we have identified that XOR may represent a potential novel therapeutic target for clinical intervention in HCC driven by liver CSCs.


Cancer stem cells; Liver cancer; Reactive oxygen species; Ubiquitin specific peptidase 15; Xanthine Oxidoreductase


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