Background: Radiotherapy is the first-line regimen for treating oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in current clinics. However, the development of therapeutic resistance impacts the anticancer efficacy of irradiation in a subpopulation of OSCC patients. As a result, discovering a valuable biomarker to predict radiotherapeutic effectiveness and uncovering the molecular mechanism for radioresistance are clinical issues in OSCC. Methods: Three OSCC cohorts from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), GSE42743 dataset and Taipei Medical University Biobank were enrolled to examine the transcriptional levels and prognostic significance of neuronal precursor cell-expressed developmentally downregulated protein 8 (NEDD8). Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) was utilized to predict the critical pathways underlying radioresistance in OSCC. The colony-forming assay was used to estimate the consequences of irradiation sensitivity after the inhibition or activation of the NEDD8-autophagy axis in OSCC cells. Results: NEDD8 upregulation was extensively found in primary tumors compared to normal adjacent tissues and potentially served as a predictive marker for the therapeutic effectiveness of irradiation in OSCC patients. NEDD8 knockdown enhanced radiosensitivity but NEDD8 overexpression reduced it in OSCC cell lines. The inclusion of MLN4924, a pharmaceutical inhibitor for NEDD8-activating enzyme, dose-dependently restored the cellular sensitivity to irradiation treatment in irradiation-insensitive OSCC cells. Computational simulation by GSEA software and cell-based analyses revealed that NEDD8 upregulation suppresses Akt/mTOR activity to initiate autophagy formation and ultimately confers radioresistance to OSCC cells. Conclusion: These findings not only identify NEDD8 as a valuable biomarker to predict the efficacy of irradiation but also offer a novel strategy to overcome radioresistance via targeting NEDD8-mediated protein neddylation in OSCC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
JournalCancer Cell International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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