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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 1864578, 19 pages
Research Article

NRF2 Regulates HER1 Signaling Pathway to Modulate the Sensitivity of Ovarian Cancer Cells to Lapatinib and Erlotinib

1Division of Science, School of Science Engineering and Technology, Abertay University, Dundee DD1 1HG, UK
2Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre and Division of Pathology Laboratory, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Crewe Road South, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, UK
3Division of Computing and Mathematics, School of Design and Informatics, Abertay University, Dundee DD1 1HG, UK

Correspondence should be addressed to Yusuf Y. Deeni;

Received 6 May 2017; Revised 9 September 2017; Accepted 16 October 2017; Published 19 December 2017

Academic Editor: Javier Egea

Copyright © 2017 Ibrahim H. Kankia et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


NF-E2-related factor 2 (NRF2) regulates the transcription of a battery of metabolic and cytoprotective genes. NRF2 and epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs/HERs) are regulators of cellular proliferation and determinants of cancer initiation and progression. NRF2 and HERs confer cancers with resistance to several therapeutic agents. Nevertheless, there is limited understanding of the regulation of HER expression and activation and the link between NRF2 and HER signalling pathways. We show that NRF2 regulates both basal and inducible expression of HER1, as treatment of ovarian cancer cells (PEO1, OVCAR3, and SKOV3) with NRF2 activator tBHQ inducing HER1, while inhibition of NRF2 by siRNA knockdown or with retinoid represses HER1. Furthermore, treatment of cells with tBHQ increased total and phosphorylated NRF2, HER1, and AKT levels and compromised the cytotoxic effect of lapatinib or erlotinib. Treatment with siRNA or retinoid antagonised the effect of tBHQ on NRF2 and HER1 levels and enhanced the sensitivity of ovarian cancer cells to lapatinib or erlotinib. Pharmacological or genetic inhibition of NRF2 and/or treatment with lapatinib or erlotinib elevated cellular ROS and depleted glutathione. This extends the understanding of NRF2 and its regulation of HER family receptors and opens a strategic target for improving cancer therapy.