Cadmium induces cytotoxicity in human bronchial epithelial cells through upregulation of eIF5A1 and NF-kappaB

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014 Feb 28;445(1):95-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.01.146. Epub 2014 Jan 31.


Cadmium (Cd) and Cd compounds are widely-distributed in the environment and well-known carcinogens. Here, we report that in CdCl2-exposed human bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B), the level of p53 is dramatically decreased in a time- and dose-dependent manner, suggesting that the observed Cd-induced cytotoxicity is not likely due to the pro-apoptotic function of p53. Therefore, this prompted us to further study the responsive pro-apoptotic factors by proteomic approaches. Interestingly, we identified that high levels (20 or 30 μM) of Cd can significantly upregulate the protein levels of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A1 (eIF5A1) and redox-sensitive transcription factor NF-κB p65. Moreover, there is an enhanced NF-κB nuclear translocation as well as chromatin-binding in Cd-treated BEAS-2B cells. We also show that small interfering RNA-specific knockdown of eIF5A1 in Cd-exposed cells attenuated the Cd cytotoxicity, indicating the potential role of eIF5A1 in Cd cytotoxicity. As eIF5A1 is reported to be related with cell apoptosis but little is known about its transcriptional control, we hypothesize that NF-κB might likely modulate eIF5A1 gene expression. Notably, by bioinformatic analysis, several potential NF-κB binding sites on the upstream promoter region of eIF5A1 gene can be found. Subsequent chromatin immunoprecipitation assay revealed that indeed there is enhanced NF-κB binding on eIF5A1 promoter region of Cd-treated BEAS-2B cells. Taken together, our findings suggest for the first time a regulatory mechanism for the pro-apoptotic protein eIF5A1 in which its level is possibly modulated by NF-κB in human lung cells.

Keywords: BEAS-2B; Cadmium; Cell death; NF-kappaB; eIF5A1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Bronchi / cytology
  • Cadmium / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / drug effects
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Peptide Initiation Factors / genetics
  • Peptide Initiation Factors / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Proteomics / methods
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects*


  • Chromatin
  • NF-kappa B
  • Peptide Initiation Factors
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A
  • Cadmium