NAD(P)H dehydrogenase, quinone 1 (NQO1), protects melanin-producing cells from cytotoxicity of rhododendrol

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Rhododendrol (RD) is a potent tyrosinase inhibitor that is metabolized to RD-quinone by tyrosinase, which may underlie the cytotoxicity of RD and leukoderma of the skin that may result. We have examined how forced expression of the NAD(P)H quinone dehydrogenase, quinone 1 (NQO1), a major quinone-reducing enzyme in cytosol, affects the survival of RD-treated cells. We found that treatment of the mouse melanoma cell line B16BL6 or normal human melanocytes with carnosic acid, a transcriptional inducer of theNQO1gene, notably suppressed the cell killing effect of RD. This effect was mostly abolished by ES936, a highly specific NQO1 inhibitor. Moreover, conditional overexpression of the humanNQO1transgene in B16BL6 led to an expression-dependent increase of cell survival after RD treatment. Our results suggest that NQO1 attenuates the cytotoxicity of RD and/or its metabolites.

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