Disruption of NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 gene in mice leads to 20S proteasomal degradation of p63 resulting in thinning of epithelium and chemical-induced skin cancer

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NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) is a cytosolic enzyme that protects cells against chemical and radiation-induced oxidative stress and skin cancer. Disruption ofNQO1gene in mice showed thinning of skin epithelium and loss of cytokeratin 14, an early marker of skin differentiation. Immunohistochemistry and western analysis demonstrated downregulation of p63 in NQO1-/- mouse skin, as compared with wild-type (WT) mouse. Further analysis including modulation of NQO1 expression revealed a direct correlation between the levels of NQO1 and p63 in skin-derived keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts. Modulation of proteasomal activity revealed that p63 is degraded by 20S proteasome and that this degradation is significantly rescued by NQO1. Coimmunoprecipitation studies showed that NQO1 interacts directly with p63 but not 20S to protect against this degradation. In addition, benzo[a]pyrene treatment led to induction of NQO1 and stabilization of p63 in WT but not in NQO1-/- mouse skin and keratinocytes. These data suggest that NQO1 controls stabilization of p63 and progression towards keratinocyte differentiation leading to normal skin development and presumably skin carcinogenesis.

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