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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Quinone reductase inhibitors block SAPK/JNK and NFkappaB pathways and potentiate apoptosis.

A variety of environmental stresses stimulate the mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase ( ERK) kinase (MEKK) > stress- activated protein kinase (SAPK)-ERK kinase (SEK) > SAPK/c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) stress-activated protein kinase cascade and coordinately activate the transcription factor NFkappaB. Mechanisms of stress activation upstream of MEKK1 have not been precisely determined. Redox mechanisms involving sulfhydryls are likely because N-acetyl-cysteine at millimolar concentrations blocks stress signals. Because intracellular sulfhydryl concentrations can be regulated through redox cycling involving reactive quinones (1), we tested the ability of quinone reductase inhibitors to alter stress signaling. Several quinone reductases are inhibited by dicoumarol, a coumarin derivative. Dicoumarol prevented SAPK activation in vivo by chemical cell stressors and also prevented SAPK activation induced by expression of the tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) receptor- associated protein TRAF2 but not by expression of truncated active MEKK1. Other coumarin derivatives failed to block SAPK activation, but other inhibitors of quinone reductases, particularly menadione, similarly blocked SAPK activation. Cells deficient in a major quinone reductase, NQO1, displayed hypersensitivity to dicoumarol stress inhibition, whereas SAPK in cells reconstituted with the NQO1 gene displayed relative dicoumarol resistance. Consistent with the proposed role of overlapping upstream signaling cascades in activation of NFkappaB, dicoumarol also blocked NFkappaB activation in primary macrophages stimulated with either lipopolysaccharide or TNFalpha. In addition, dicoumarol strongly potentiated TNFalpha-induced apoptosis in HeLa cells, probably by blocking the anti-apoptotic effect of NFkappaB. The ability of dicoumarol to simultaneously inhibit SAPK and NFkappaB activation and to potentiate apoptotic cell death suggests that SAPK is not an obligate participant in apoptosis. Dicoumarol, currently in clinical use as an oral anticoagulant, represents a potential therapeutic inhibitor of the SAPK and NFkappaB response.[1]


  1. Quinone reductase inhibitors block SAPK/JNK and NFkappaB pathways and potentiate apoptosis. Cross, J.V., Deak, J.C., Rich, E.A., Qian, Y., Lewis, M., Parrott, L.A., Mochida, K., Gustafson, D., Vande Pol, S., Templeton, D.J. J. Biol. Chem. (1999) [Pubmed]
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