NADPH Oxidases (NOX): An Overview from Discovery, Molecular Mechanisms to Physiology and Pathology


Molecular and Cellular Biology

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The reactive oxygen species (ROS)-producing enzyme NADPH oxidase (NOX) was first identified in the membrane of phagocytic cells. For many years, its only known role was in immune defense, where its ROS production leads to the destruction of pathogens by the immune cells. NOX from phagocytes catalyzes, via one-electron trans-membrane transfer to molecular oxygen, the production of the superoxide anion. Over the years, six human homologs of the catalytic subunit of the phagocyte NADPH oxidase were found: NOX1, NOX3, NOX4, NOX5, DUOX1, and DUOX2. Together with the NOX2/gp91 component present in the phagocyte NADPH oxidase assembly itself, the homologs are now referred to as the NOX family of NADPH oxidases. NOX are complex multidomain proteins with varying requirements for assembly with combinations of other proteins for activity. The recent structural insights acquired on both prokaryotic and eukaryotic NOX open new perspectives for the understanding of the molecular mechanisms inherent to NOX regulation and ROS production (superoxide or hydrogen peroxide). This new structural information will certainly inform new investigations of human disease. As specialized ROS producers, NOX enzymes participate in numerous crucial physiological processes, including host defense, the post-translational processing of proteins, cellular signaling, regulation of gene expression, and cell differentiation. These diversities of physiological context will be discussed in this review. We also discuss NOX misregulation, which can contribute to a wide range of severe pathologies, such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetic nephropathy, lung fibrosis, cancer, or neurodegenerative diseases, giving this family of membrane proteins a strong therapeutic interest.

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Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland)

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