Affiliation: National Cancer Institute, Building 37, Room 5050, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) form a class of molecules with both positive and negative impacts on cellular health. Negatively, ROS may react with cellular constituents including proteins, lipids, and DNA to generate an array of oxidative lesions. These lesions may compromise genome stability which is critical for long-term cellular homeostasis and healthy progeny. Paradoxically, ROS also function as strong signalling molecules that mediate various growth-related responses, so their presence is also essential for cellular metabolism. While ROS are generated in an unregulated manner by physical stresses such as exposure to ionizing radiation and biochemical malfunctions such as mitochondrial leakage, cells also contain the NADPH oxidases NOXs and DUOXs, which specifically generate ROS in a wide variety of tissues. While the NOXs/DUOXs may be involved in maintaining optimal cellular redox levels, there is also accumulating evidence that NADPH oxidases-derived ROS may elevate the risk for genomic instability and cancer. Cancer cells may produce high levels of ROS, and in some cases, the source of these ROS has been linked to NOX/DUOX deregulation as reported for prostate cancer (NOX1 and NOX5), melanoma and glioblastoma (NOX4) among others. In addition, recent studies reveal that targeting NADPH oxidases with NOXs inhibitors may impair tumor growth in vivo; indicating that these proteins may be useful targets in future clinical strategies to fight cancer. This review provides an overview of the current knowledge concerning these enzymes, their roles in cancer, and their potential as targets in future cancer therapies.