Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is an antioxidant, antiapoptotic and cytoprotective enzyme, catalysing the degradation of heme to carbon monoxide, biliverdin and ferrous iron. Recent studies indicated that expression of HO-1 is under the control of proapoptotic transcription factor p53 and
antioxidant transcription factor Nrf2. Whether each of these transcription factors act independently or there is a cooperation between them in inducing HO-1 expression remains to be elucidated. In this study, we examined the expression of HO-1 in B16F10 melanoma and 4T1 breast cancer cells
after cell exposure to proteasome inhibitors. We found that HO-1 protein level is increased by about 70% in p53-wt B16F10 cells in response to proteasome inhibitor MG132 after 6 h. Likewise, a 6.8 fold increase in HO-1 level was observed after cell exposure to the highly specific proteasome
inhibitor bortezomib after 6 h of treatment in B16F10 cells. Whereas no induction of HO-1 was observed in p53-null 4T1 cells after treatment with bortezomib for 6 h. Next, we aligned HO-1 untranslated region with a consensus p53-responsive element. This bioinformatic analysis identified a
p53-responsive element within the untranslated region of HO-1. Then, we examined HO-1 expression after a prolonged exposure to bortezomib in both B16F10 and 4T1 cell. These analyses similarly indicated that HO-1 is strongly induced in B16F10 cells in a dosedependent; contrary to our expectations,
a strong induction of HO-1 is also observed in 4T1 cells. Therefore, it is concluded that HO-1 expression is under the control of p53 during early time points of proteasomal inhibition. However, during prolonged incubation with proteasome inhibitors, HO-1 expression can be induced in a p53-independent
manner, suggesting participation of other protein(s) with longer half-lives.
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