Human colon cancers express higher levels of NADPH oxidase 1 [NOX1] than adjacent normal epithelium. It has been suggested that reactive oxygen species [ROS] derived from NOX1 contribute to DNA damage and neoplastic transformation in the colon, particularly during chronic inflammatory stress. However, the mechanism(s) underlying increased NOX1 expression in malignant tumors or chronic inflammatory states involving the intestine are poorly characterized. We examined the effects of two pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-4 and IL-13, on the regulation of NOX1. NOX1 expression was increased 4- to 5-fold in a time- and concentration-dependent manner by both cytokines in human colon cancer cell lines when a functional Type II IL-4 receptor was present. Increased NOX1 transcription following IL-4/IL-13 exposure was mediated by JAK1/STAT6 signaling, was associated with a ROS-related inhibition of protein tyrosine phosphatase activity, and was dependent upon activation and specific binding of GATA3 to the NOX1 promoter. NOX1-mediated ROS production increased cell cycle progression through S-phase leading to a significant increase in cellular proliferation. Evaluation of twenty pairs of surgically-resected colon cancers and their associated uninvolved adjacent colonic epithelium demonstrated a significant increase in the active form of NOX1, NOX1-L, in tumors compared to normal tissues, and a significant correlation between the expression levels of NOX1 and the Type II IL-4 receptor in tumor and the uninvolved colon. These studies imply that NOX1 expression, mediated by IL-4/IL-13, could contribute to an oxidant milieu capable of supporting the initiation or progression of colonic cancer, suggesting a role for NOX1 as a therapeutic target.
Keywords: NADPH oxidase; colon cancer; interleukin-13; interleukin-4; reactive oxygen species.