The Role of NQO2 in Tumour Growth and Response to Therapeutic Drugs

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Balqis Ikhmais


NRH quinone oxidoreductase 2 (NQO2) is regarded as a mammalian Phase I detoxifying enzyme responsible for reducing quinones to hydroquinones. NQO2 is highly expressed in different types of cancer such as breast and prostate cancer suggesting its participatory role in the progression of these diseases. A potential reason for this is that NQO2 has the ability to modulate the stability of cyclin D1 and activity of NF-κB and it has been shown that inhibition of NQO2, either genetically or pharmacologically, can alter the pattern of proliferation of cancer cells. However, the biological roles of NQO2 in cancer progression are still ambiguous and need further investigation. A panel of seven ovarian cancer cell lines (OVCs) were screened for the presence and functionality of NQO2. SKOV-3 and TOV-112D cells expressing comparatively the highest and lowest levels of NQO2 were stably transduced to silence and overexpress NQO2 respectively. Pharmacological inhibition was achieved using resveratrol or a series of novel 4-aminoquinolines synthesised in-house. Cell proliferation was monitored by cell counting and clonogenic assays. Flow cytometric analysis was used to determine cell cycle distribution and levels of ROS following modulation of NQO2 function. The expression of cell cycle regulatory markers was determined by Western blot. The contributory roles of NQO2 in determining the cytotoxicity of Adriamycin (ADR) towards OVCs was investigated using MTT assay together with evaluation of P-gp expression and basal ROS levels. In the OVCs panel, NQO2 protein levels and enzymatic activity showed an excellent correlation; with activity varying 36-fold between the cell lines. The sensitivity of OVCs to CB1954 was significantly increased when combined with the NRH-like co-factor, EP0152R. This supports the notion that NQO2 mediates the toxicity of CB1954, which is further confirmed by the strong correlation between cellular NQO2 activity and the responsiveness of the OVC cell lines to CB1954. Hydrazone quinolines showed the highest inhibitiory potency against NQO2 in SKOV-3 when compared to the typical and in-house synthesised quinolines inhibitors. NQO2-overexpressing TOV-112D cells showed more aggressive growth pattern and higher capacity to form colonies than wild-type cells. This was consistently associated with an enhancement in the progression of cells through cell cycle phases and significant reduction in Rb expression. A reduction in ROS levels in NQO2-OE cells may also explain this enhancement in cell growth. Overexpressing NQO2 also resulted in destabilisation of CDK4 and cyclin D1 with significant reduction in their expression levels, and concomitant increase in p-cyclin D1 (Thr286). The involvement of NQO2 in controlling cyclin D1 turnover is also confirmed in SKOV-3 cells when genetic silencing of NQO2 was accompanied by significant reduction in p-cyclin D1 and subsequent stabilisation of cyclin D1 levels. In spite of this, no alterations in the growth pattern of SKOV-3 cells were observed highlighting the impact of cell type on the variations in cellular responses. The role of NQO2 in determining the toxicity of ADR treatment was not proved in OVC cells. This was despite that modulation of NQO2 levels caused significant changes in P-gp expression. The intracellular basal levels of ROS was found to affect the responsiveness of OVCs to ADR as demonstrated when treating SKOV-3 with resveratrol was accompanied by significant increase in ROS levels and concomitant enhancement in the cells’ response to ADR. In conclusion, NQO2 can profoundly alter the proliferation characteristics of OVCs and is a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of this disease. However, the biological functions of NQO2 and its contributory roles in particular pathways are varied among different types of cancer -in other words- are highly dependent on cancer type.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2018