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Author Notes:

Corresponding author: J. David Lambeth. E-mail: noxdoc@mac.com. Phone: (404) 727-5875.

We thank Dr. Hisamitsu Ogawa (Department of Biology, Fujita Health University School of Medicine, Toyoake, Aichi, Japan) for the gift of wild-type and mutant His6-tagged Nox4 cDNA and Dr. Ralf Brandes (Center of Physiology, Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Germany) for providing the Nox4 stably expressing HEK293 cell line. We also thank Dr. Yerun Zhu and McCoy James (Department of Pathology and Experimental Medicine, Emory University Medical School) for technical assistance.

The authors declare no competing financial interest.


Research Funding:

Funded by National Institutes of Health Grant CA105116 and CNPq-Brazil (to D.C.-G.).


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Nox4: A Hydrogen Peroxide-Generating Oxygen Sensor


Journal Title:



Volume 53, Number 31


, Pages 5111-5120

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Nox4 is an oddity among members of the Nox family of NADPH oxidases [seven isoenzymes that generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) from molecular oxygen] in that it is constitutively active. All other Nox enzymes except for Nox4 require upstream activators, either calcium or organizer/activator subunits (p47 phox, NOXO1/p67phox, and NOXA1). Nox4 may also be unusual as it reportedly releases hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in contrast to Nox1-Nox3 and Nox5, which release superoxide, although this result is controversial in part because of possible membrane compartmentalization of superoxide, which may prevent detection. Our studies were undertaken (1) to identify the Nox4 ROS product using a membrane-free, partially purified preparation of Nox4 and (2) to test the hypothesis that Nox4 activity is acutely regulated not by activator proteins or calcium, but by cellular pO2, allowing it to function as an O2 sensor, the output of which is signaling H2O2. We find that approximately 90% of the electron flux through isolated Nox4 produces H2O2 and 10% forms superoxide. The kinetic mechanism of H2O2 formation is consistent with a mechanism involving binding of one oxygen molecule, which is then sequentially reduced by the heme in two one-electron reduction steps first to form a bound superoxide intermediate and then H2O 2; kinetics are not consistent with a previously proposed internal superoxide dismutation mechanism involving two oxygen binding/reduction steps for each H2O2 formed. Critically, Nox4 has an unusually high Km for oxygen (∼18%), similar to the values of known oxygen-sensing enzymes, compared with a Km of 2-3% for Nox2, the phagocyte NADPH oxidase. This allows Nox4 to generate H2O2 as a function of oxygen concentration throughout a physiological range of pO2 values and to respond rapidly to changes in pO2.

Copyright information:

© 2014 American Chemical Society. This is an open access article published under an ACS AuthorChoice License, which permits copying and redistribution of the article or any adaptations for non-commercial purposes.

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