Nature communications

Mutant Kras- and p16-regulated NOX4 activation overcomes metabolic checkpoints in development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

PMID 28232723


Kras activation and p16 inactivation are required to develop pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). However, the biochemical mechanisms underlying these double alterations remain unclear. Here we discover that NAD(P)H oxidase 4 (NOX4), an enzyme known to catalyse the oxidation of NAD(P)H, is upregulated when p16 is inactivated by looking at gene expression profiling studies. Activation of NOX4 requires catalytic subunit p22phox, which is upregulated following Kras activation. Both alterations are also detectable in PDAC cell lines and patient specimens. Furthermore, we show that elevated NOX4 activity accelerates oxidation of NADH and supports increased glycolysis by generating NAD+, a substrate for GAPDH-mediated glycolytic reaction, promoting PDAC cell growth. Mechanistically, NOX4 was induced through p16-Rb-regulated E2F and p22phox was induced by KrasG12V-activated NF-κB. In conclusion, we provide a biochemical explanation for the cooperation between p16 inactivation and Kras activation in PDAC development and suggest that NOX4 is a potential therapeutic target for PDAC.