A researcher at the University of Kentucky who studies the cancer risks of toxic chemicals has retracted three papers.
All of the retraction notices, which appear in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, refer to some kind of image duplication. The papers were originally published between 2014 and 2017, with the 2014 paper cited 39 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.
The papers all share authors Young-Ok Son, Poyil Pratheeshkumar, Zhuo Zhang and Xianglin Shi. All of the researchers work in the department of toxicology and cancer biology at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, and Son is also based at the National Creative Research Initiatives Center for Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis and School of Life Sciences at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea. Two of the notices say that
The corresponding author identified some issues and brought them to the attention of the Journal.
Here are the three papers:
- Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 enhances carcinogenesis by suppressing apoptosis and promoting autophagy in nickel-transformed cells
- Antioncogenic and oncogenic properties of Nrf2 in arsenic-induced carcinogenesis
- Nrf2/p62 signaling in apoptosis resistance and its role in cadmium-induced carcinogenesis
As an example, here is the retraction notice for the last paper:
This article has been withdrawn by the authors. The corresponding author identified some issues and brought them to the attention of the Journal. The following issues were discovered in the article. Lanes 1–3 were duplicated in lanes 5–6 of the c-caspase 3 immunoblot in Fig. 2C. The Nrf2 immunoblot from BEAS-2B cells from Fig. 5D was reused in Fig. 8A. In Fig. 8C, the first two lanes of the p62 ARE F1 and the β-actin gels were duplicated. Additionally, lanes 1 and 8 of the p62 ARE F4 gel were duplicated. In Fig. 9C, lanes 2 and 5 of the Bcl-xL ARE R1 gel were duplicated. In Fig. 9F, lanes 1 and 2were reused in lanes 5 and 6 of the Bcl-2 ARE F1 gel. In Fig. 11B, lanes 3 and 5 of the Nrf2 immunoblot were duplicated. Additionally, lanes 4 and 6 of the lower bands in the LC3 immunoblot were duplicated. In Fig. 11C, the SOD1 immunoblot was reused as the SOD2.
Work for all three papers was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Shi, who is listed as corresponding author or co-corresponding author on all three papers, and still a professor at the University of Kentucky, did not respond to a request for comment.
Asked whether the university is investigating, a spokesperson tells us that the university is aware of the retractions but “not able to provide more information at this time.”
Shi is principal investigator of a 5-year, $7.4 million grant awarded to the University of Kentucky last year from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to establish the UK Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK-CARES).
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