Bioengineered NRF2-siRNA is effective to interfere with NRF2 pathways and improve chemosensitivity of human cancer cells

Peng Cheng Li, Mei Juan Tu, Pui Yan Ho, Joseph L. Jilek, Zhijian Duan, Qian Yu Zhang, Ai Xi Yu, Aiming Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (NRF2) is a transcription factor in the regulation of many oxidative enzymes and efflux transporters critical for oxidative stress and cellular defense against xenobiotics. NRF2 is dysregulated in patient osteosarcoma (OS) tissues and correlates with therapeutic outcomes. Nevertheless, research on the NRF2 regulatory pathways and its potential as a therapeutic target is limited to the use of synthetic small interfering RNA (siRNA) carrying extensive artificial modifications. Herein, we report successful high-level expression of recombinant siRNA against NRF2 in Escherichia coli using our newly established noncoding RNA bioengineering technology, which was purified to >99% homogeneity using an anion-exchange fast protein liquid chromatography method. Bioengineered NRF2-siRNA was able to significantly knock down NRF2 mRNA and protein levels in human OS 143B and MG63 cells, and subsequently suppressed the expression of NRF2-regulated oxidative enzymes [heme oxygenase-1 and NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1] and elevated intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species. In addition, recombinant NRF2-siRNA was effective to sensitize both 143B and MG63 cells to doxorubicin, cisplatin, and sorafenib, which was associated with significant downregulation of NRF2-targeted ATP-binding cassette (ABC) efflux transporters (ABCC3, ABCC4, and ABCG2). These findings support that targeting NRF2 signaling pathways may improve the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapy, and bioengineered siRNA molecules should be added to current tools for related research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-10
Number of pages9
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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