We reported in an earlier study that using mass spectrometry and bioinformatic analysis demonstrated Rac1 protein might be mostly mitochondrial target in the radiosensitization process of nasopharyngeal carcinoma CNE-1 cells. The goal of our current study was to reveal the relationship between Rac1/NADPH pathway and radiosensitization in CNE-1 cells using Rac1 activator, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) and Rac1 inhibitor NSC23766. The Rac1-GTP expression was determined using a pulldown assay, the Rac1 location using a immunofluorescence with a laser scanning confocal microscope, the NADPH oxidase activity with NBT assay and the reactive oxygen species with DCFH-DA probe. The apoptosis rate was analyzed by flow cytometry, and the expressions of p67phox and NFκB-p105/p50 were analyzed by Western blot. After treatment with PMA and 2 Gy radiation (compared to the control), Rac1-GTP was activated and translocated to the cell membrane. NADPH oxidase activity, reactive oxygen species of intracellular concentration and the apoptosis rate increased significantly. The expression of p67phox and NFκB-p50 protein also increased. However, in the cells treated with NSC23766 alone or NSC23766 combined with 2 Gy irradiation, the results were just the opposite. Overall, these results indicate that the Rac1 protein may be the key target involved in the radiosensitization of nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells. The activated Rac1/NADPH pathway combined with radiation can increase the radiosensitivity of nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells, and the Rac1/NADPH pathway may be the signaling pathway involved in the radiosensitization process.

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