Selenium, an essential micronutrient known for its cancer prevention properties, is incorporated into a class of selenocysteine-containing proteins (selenoproteins). Selenoprotein H (SepH) is a recently identified nucleolar oxidoreductase whose function is not well understood. Here we report that seph is an essential gene regulating organ development in zebrafish. Metabolite profiling by targeted LC-MS/MS demonstrated that SepH deficiency impairs redox balance by reducing the levels of ascorbate and methionine, while increasing methionine sulfoxide. Transcriptome analysis revealed that SepH deficiency induces an inflammatory response and activates the p53 pathway. Consequently, loss of seph renders larvae susceptible to oxidative stress and DNA damage. Finally, we demonstrate that seph interacts with p53 deficiency in adulthood to accelerate gastrointestinal tumor development. Overall, our findings establish that seph regulates redox homeostasis and suppresses DNA damage. We hypothesize that SepH deficiency may contribute to the increased cancer risk observed in cohorts with low selenium levels.
Keywords: endoderm development; liver cancer; p53; selenium; selenoproteins.