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

Human aldehyde dehydrogenase 3A1 inhibits proliferation and promotes survival of human corneal epithelial cells.

Aldehyde dehydrogenase 3A1 (ALDH3A1) is a NAD(P)+-dependent enzyme that is highly expressed in mammalian corneal epithelial cells and has been shown to protect against UV- and 4-hydroxynonenal-induced cellular damage, mainly by metabolizing toxic lipid peroxidation aldehydes. Here we report a novel function of ALDH3A1 as a negative cell cycle regulator. We noticed a reduction in ALDH3A1 gene expression in actively proliferating primary human corneal epithelium explant cultures, indicating that ALDH3A1 expression is inversely correlated with replication. To examine this further, a human corneal epithelial cell line ( HCE) lacking endogenous ALDH3A1 was stably transfected to express ALDH3A1 at levels similar to those found in vivo. ALDH3A1-transfected cells exhibited an elongated cell cycle, decreased plating efficiency, and reduced DNA synthesis compared with the mock-transfected cells. These effects were associated with reduced cyclin A- and cyclin B-dependent kinase activities and reduced phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (pRb) as well as decreased protein levels of cyclins A, B, and E, the transcription factor E2F1, and the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21. These observations were further expanded and confirmed on human keratinocyte cells (NCTC-2544) overexpressing ALDH3A1. Consistent with a protective role of an elongated cell cycle, ALDH3A1-transfected cells exhibited increased resistance to the cytotoxic effects of the DNA-damaging agents mitomycin C and Vp-16. Immunohistochemistry and biochemical fractionation revealed that ALDH3A1 is localized both in the nucleus and cytosol of ALDH3A1-transfected cells, implying a possible association between the nuclear localization of the enzyme and its proliferation-suppressive functions. In conclusion, these results suggest that ALDH3A1 may protect corneal epithelial cells against oxidative damage not only through its metabolic function but also by prolonging the cell cycle.[1]


  1. Human aldehyde dehydrogenase 3A1 inhibits proliferation and promotes survival of human corneal epithelial cells. Pappa, A., Brown, D., Koutalos, Y., DeGregori, J., White, C., Vasiliou, V. J. Biol. Chem. (2005) [Pubmed]
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