OBJECTIVE: Reactive oxygen species-generating nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-oxidase proteins (Noxs) are involved in cell differentiation, migration, and apoptosis. Nox4 is unique among Noxs in being constitutively active, and its subcellular localization may therefore be particularly important. In this study, we identified and characterized a novel nuclear-localized 28-kDa splice variant of Nox4 in vascular cells.
APPROACH AND RESULTS:Nox4 immunoreactivity was noted in the nucleus and nucleolus of vascular smooth muscle cells and multiple other cell types by confocal microscopy. Cell fractionation, sequence analyses, and siRNA studies indicated that the nuclear-localized Nox4 is a 28-kDa splice variant, Nox4D, which lacks putative transmembrane domains. Nox4D overexpression resulted in significant NADPH-dependent reactive oxygen species production as detected by several different methods and caused increased phosphorylation of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase1/2 and the nuclear transcription factor Elk-1. Overexpression of Nox4D could also induce DNA damage as assessed by ¿-H2AX phosphorylation. These effects were inhibited by a single amino acid substitution in the Nox4D NADPH-binding region.
CONCLUSIONS:Nox4D is a nuclear-localized and functionally active splice variant of Nox4 that may have important pathophysiologic effects through modulation of nuclear signaling and DNA damage.