Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) is a classic example of inflammation-associated cancer, which develops through GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)-Barrett's esophagus (BE)-dysplasia-adenocarcinoma sequence. The incidence of EAC has been rising rapidly in the USA and Western countries during the last few decades. The functions of glutathione peroxidase 7 (GPX7), an antioxidant enzyme frequently silenced during Barrett's tumorigenesis, remain largely uncharacterized. In this study, we investigated the potential role of GPX7 in regulating nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) activity in esophageal cells. Western blot analysis, immunofluorescence and luciferase reporter assay data indicated that reconstitution of GPX7 expression in CP-A (non-dysplastic BE cells) and FLO-1 (EAC cells) abrogated tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)-induced NF-κB transcriptional activity (P < 0.01) and nuclear translocation of NF-κB-p65 (P = 0.01). In addition, we detected a marked reduction in phosphorylation levels of components of NF-κB signaling pathway, p-p65 (S536), p-IκB-α (S32) and p-IKKα/β (S176/180), as well as significant suppression in induction of NF-κB target genes [TNF-α, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, IL-1β, CXCL-1 and CXCL-2] following treatment with TNF-α in GPX7-expressing FLO-1 cells as compared with control cells. We validated these effects by knockdown of GPX7 expression in HET1A (normal esophageal squamous cells). We found that GPX7-mediated suppression of NF-κB is independent of reactive oxygen species level and GPX7 antioxidant function. Further mechanistic investigations demonstrated that GPX7 promotes protein degradation of TNF-receptor 1 (TNFR1) and TNF receptor-associated factor 2 (TRAF2), suggesting that GPX7 modulates critical upstream regulators of NF-κB. We concluded that the loss of GPX7 expression is a critical step in promoting the TNF-α-induced activation of proinflammatory NF-κB signaling, a major player in GERD-associated Barrett's carcinogenesis.
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