Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 modulates HER4 receptor in ovarian cancer cells to influence their sensitivity to tyrosine kinase inhibitors

Ibrahim H. Kankia, Poornima Paramasivan, Matthew Elcombe, Simon P. Langdon, Yusuf Y. Deeni*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Aim: Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) is a key component in the cell’s response to oxidative and electrophilic stress and is a transcription factor regulating the expression of a collection of anti-oxidative and cytoprotective genes. Human epidermal growth factor receptor 4 (HER4/erbB4) regulates growth and differentiation in many cancer types. Here, NRF2 and HER4 receptor interactions were investigated in a panel of ovarian cancer cell lines.
    Methods: Pharmacological [tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) and retinoid/rexinoid, bexarotene] and genetic [small interfering RNA (siRNA)] manipulations were used to activate or inhibit NRF2 function in the cell line panel (PE01, OVCAR3, SKOV3). Activity of the HER-targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors, erlotinib (ERL) and lapatinib (LAP), was evaluated after NRF2 activation.
    Results: While tBHQ increased the levels of both phosphorylated-NRF2 (pNRF2) and HER4 in PE01, OVCAR3 and SKOV3 cells, bexatorene and NRF2-target siRNA treatment decreased pNRF2 and total HER4 levels. The tBHQ-dependent pharmacological activation of NRF2 attenuated the therapeutic effectiveness of ERL and LAP. Analyses of gene expression data from a HER4 driven reporter system and in vitro or in vivo cancer models, support NRF2 regulation of HER4 expression.
    Conclusions: These results support the presence of signaling interaction between the NRF2 and HER4 receptor pathways and suggest that intervention modulating this cross-talk could have anticancer therapeutic value.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages17
    JournalExploration of Targeted Anti-tumor Therapy
    Early online date19 Apr 2021
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Apr 2021

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