Involvement of DPP3 in modulating oncological features and oxidative stress response in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma

Biosci Rep. 2023 Sep 27;43(9):BSR20222472. doi: 10.1042/BSR20222472.


Resistance to therapy in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is a critical clinical problem and identification of novel therapeutic targets is highly warranted. Dipeptidyl peptidase III (DPP3) is a zinc-dependent aminopeptidase and functions in the terminal stages of the protein turnover. Several studies have reported overexpression and oncogenic functions of DPP3 in numerous malignancies. The present study aimed to determine the expression pattern and functional role of DPP3 in ESCC. DPP3 expression was assessed in normal and tumor tissues using quantitative real-time (qRT)-PCR and corroborated with ESCC gene expression datasets from Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) and The cancer genome atlas (TCGA). DPP3 stable knockdown was performed in ESCC cells by shRNA and its effect on cell proliferation, migration, cell cycle, apoptosis, and activation of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) pathway was assessed. The results suggested that DPP3 is overexpressed in ESCC and its knockdown leads to reduced proliferation, increased apoptosis, and inhibited migration of ESCC cells. Additionally, DPP3 knockdown leads to down-regulation of the NRF2 pathway proteins, such as NRF2, G6PD, and NQO1 along with increased sensitivity toward oxidative stress-induced cell death and chemotherapy. Conclusively, these results demonstrate critical role of DPP3 in ESCC and DPP3/NRF2 axis may serve as an attractive therapeutic target against chemoresistance in this malignancy.

Keywords: Dipeptidyl peptidase; Nrf2; esophageal cancer; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidases and Tripeptidyl-Peptidases / genetics
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma* / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress


  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • DPP3 protein, human
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidases and Tripeptidyl-Peptidases