Neuroglobin, a pro-survival player in estrogen receptor a-positive cancer cells

M. Fiocchetti, M. T. Nuzzo, P. Totta, F. Acconcia, P. Ascenzi, M. Marino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, we reported that human neuroglobin (NGB) is a new player in the signal transduction pathways that lead to 17ß-estradiol (E2)-induced neuron survival. Indeed, E2 induces in neuron mitochondria the enhancement of NGB level, which in turn impairs the activation of a pro-apoptotic cascade. Nowadays, the existence of a similar pathway activated by E2 in non-neuronal cells is completely unknown. Here, the role of E2-induced NGB upregulation in tumor cells is reported. E2 induced the upregulation of NGB in a dose- and time-dependent manner in MCF-7, HepG2, SK-N-BE, and HeLa cells transfected with estrogen receptor a (ERa), whereas E2 was unable to modulate the NGB expression in the ERa-devoid HeLa cells. Both transcriptional and extranuclear ERa signals were required for the E2-dependent upregulation of NGB in MCF-7 and HepG2 cell lines. E2 stimulation modified NGB intracellular localization, inducing a significant reduction of NGB in the nucleus with a parallel increase of NGB in the mitochondria in both HepG2 and MCF-7 cells. Remarkably, E2 pretreatment did not counteract the H2O2-induced caspase-3 and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP-1) cleavage, as well as Bcl-2 overexpression in MCF-7 and HepG2 cells in which NGB was stably silenced by using shRNA lentiviral particles, highlighting the pivotal role of NGB in E2-induced antiapoptotic pathways in cancer cells. Present results indicate that the E2-induced NGB upregulation in cancer cells could represent a defense mechanism of E2-related cancers rendering them insensitive to oxidative stress. As a whole, these data open new avenues to develop therapeutic strategies against E2-related cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1449
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology
  • Cancer Research
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Medicine(all)


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