Arsenic is widely spread in our living environment and imposes a big challenge on human health worldwide. Arsenic damages biological systems through multiple mechanisms including the generation of reactive oxygen species. The transcription factor Nrf2 regulates the cellular antioxidant response that protects cells from various insults. In this study, the protective role of Nrf2 in arsenic toxicity was investigated in a human bladder urothelial cell line, UROtsa. Using an UROtsa cell line stably infected with Nrf2-siRNA, we clearly demonstrate that compromised Nrf2 expression sensitized the cells to As(III)- and MMA(III)-induced toxicity. On the other hand, the activation of the Nrf2 pathway by tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) and sulforaphane (SF), the known Nrf2-inducers, rendered UROtsa cells more resistant to As(III)- and MMA(III). Furthermore, the wild type mouse embryo fibroblast (WT-MEF) cells were protected from As(III)- and MMA(III)-induced toxicity following Nrf2 activation by tBHQ or SF whereas neither tBHQ nor SF conferred protection in the Nrf2−/−-MEF cells, demonstrating that tBHQ- or SF-mediated protection against As(III)- and MMA(III)-induced toxicity depends on Nrf2 activation. These results, obtained by both loss of function and gain of function analyses, clearly demonstrate the protective role of Nrf2 in arsenic-induced toxicity. The current work lays the groundwork for using Nrf2 activators for therapeutic and dietary interventions against adverse effects of arsenic.
Nrf2; Keap1; arsenic; arsenite; MMA(III); UROtsa
Arsenic is present in the environment and has become a worldwide health concern due to its toxicity and carcinogenicity. However, the specific mechanism(s) by which arsenic elicits its toxic effects has yet to be fully elucidated. The transcription factor nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) has been recognized as the master regulator of a cellular defense mechanism against toxic insults. This review highlights studies demonstrating that arsenic activates the Nrf2-Keap1 antioxidant pathway by a distinct mechanism from that of natural compounds such as sulforaphane (SF) found in broccoli sprouts or tert-butylhyrdoquinone (tBHQ), a natural antioxidant commonly used as a food preservative. Evidence also suggests that arsenic prolongs Nrf2 activation and may mimic constitutive activation of Nrf2, which has been found in several human cancers due to disruption of the Nrf2-Keap1 axis. The current literature strongly suggests that activation of Nrf2 by arsenic potentially contributes to, rather than protects against, arsenic toxicity and carcinogenicity. The mechanism(s) by which known Nrf2 activators, such as the natural chemopreventive compounds SF and lipoic acid, protect against the deleterious effects caused by arsenic will also be discussed. These findings will provide insight to further understand how arsenic promotes a prolonged Nrf2 response, which will lead to the identification of novel molecular markers and development of rational therapies for the prevention or intervention of arsenic-induced diseases. The National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) award has provided the opportunity to review the progress both in the fields of arsenic toxicology and Nrf2 biology. Much of the funding has led to (1) the novel discovery that arsenic activates the Nrf2 pathway by a mechanism different to that of other Nrf2 activators, such as sulforaphane and tert-butylhydroquinone, (2) activation of Nrf2 by chemopreventive compounds protects against arsenic toxicity and carcinogenicity both in vitro and in vivo, (3) constitutive activation of Nrf2 by disrupting Keap1-mediated negative regulation contributes to cancer and chemoresistance, (4) p62-mediated sequestration of Keap1 activates the Nrf2 pathway, and (5) arsenic-mediated Nrf2 activation may be through a p62-dependent mechanism. All of these findings have been published and are discussed in this review. This award has laid the foundation for my laboratory to further investigate the molecular mechanism(s) that regulate the Nrf2 pathway and how it may play an integral role in arsenic toxicity. Moreover, understanding the biology behind arsenic toxicity and carcinogenicity will help in the discovery of potential strategies to prevent or control arsenic-mediated adverse effects.
Nrf2; Arsenic; Keap1; Oxidative stress; p62; Autophagy; Chemoprevention
Groundwater contaminated with arsenic imposes a big challenge to human health worldwide. Using natural compounds to subvert the detrimental effects of arsenic represents an attractive strategy. The transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a critical regulator of the cellular antioxidant response and xenobiotic metabolism. Recently, activation of the Nrf2 signaling pathway has been reported to confer protection against arsenic-induced toxicity in a cell culture model.
The goal of the present work was to identify a potent Nrf2 activator from plants as a chemopreventive compound and to demonstrate the efficacy of the compound in battling arsenic-induced toxicity.
Oridonin activated the Nrf2 signaling pathway at a low subtoxic dose and was able to stabilize Nrf2 by blocking Nrf2 ubiquitination and degradation, leading to accumulation of the Nrf2 protein and activation of the Nrf2-dependent cytoprotective response. Pretreatment of UROtsa cells with 1.4 μM oridonin significantly enhanced the cellular redox capacity, reduced formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and improved cell survival after arsenic challenge.
We identified oridonin as representing a novel class of Nrf2 activators and illustrated the mechanism by which the Nrf2 pathway is activated. Furthermore, we demonstrated the feasibility of using natural compounds targeting Nrf2 as a therapeutic approach to protect humans from various environmental insults that may occur daily.
antioxidant responsive element; antitumor; ARE; arsenic; chemoprevention; diterpenoid; Keap1; Nrf2; oridonin; oxidative stress; rubescensin
The gastrointestinal glutathione peroxidase (GI-GPx, GPx2) is a selenoprotein that was suggested to act as barrier against hydroperoxide absorption but has also been implicated in the control of inflammation and malignant growth. In CaCo-2 cells, GI-GPx was induced by t-butyl hydroquinone (tBHQ) and sulforaphane (SFN), i.e., “antioxidants” known to activate the “antioxidant response element” (ARE) via electrophilic thiol modification of Keap1 in the Nrf2/Keap1 system. The functional significance of a putative ARE in the GI-GPx promoter was validated by transcriptional activation of reporter gene constructs upon exposure to electrophiles (tBHQ, SFN, and curcumin) or overexpression of Nrf2 and by reversal of these effects by mutation of the ARE in the promoter and by overexpressed Keap1. Binding of Nrf2 to the ARE sequence in authentic gpx2 was corroborated by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Thus, the presumed natural antioxidants sulforaphane and curcumin may exert their anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effects not only by induction of phase 2 enzymes but also by the up-regulation of the selenoprotein GI-GPx.
The Nrf2-Keap1 signaling pathway is a protective mechanism promoting cell survival. Activation of the Nrf2 pathway by natural compounds has been proven to be an effective strategy for chemoprevention. Interestingly, a cancer-promoting function of Nrf2 has recently been observed in many types of tumors due to deregulation of the Nrf2-Keap1 axis, which leads to constitutive activation of Nrf2. Here, we report a novel mechanism of Nrf2 activation by arsenic that is distinct from that of chemopreventive compounds. Arsenic deregulates the autophagic pathway through blockage of autophagic flux, resulting in accumulation of autophagosomes and sequestration of p62, Keap1, and LC3. Thus, arsenic activates Nrf2 through a noncanonical mechanism (p62 dependent), leading to a chronic, sustained activation of Nrf2. In contrast, activation of Nrf2 by sulforaphane (SF) and tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) depends upon Keap1-C151 and not p62 (the canonical mechanism). More importantly, SF and tBHQ do not have any effect on autophagy. In fact, SF and tBHQ alleviate arsenic-mediated deregulation of autophagy. Collectively, these findings provide evidence that arsenic causes prolonged activation of Nrf2 through autophagy dysfunction, possibly providing a scenario similar to that of constitutive activation of Nrf2 found in certain human cancers. This may represent a previously unrecognized mechanism underlying arsenic toxicity and carcinogenicity in humans.
Targeting Nrf2 signaling appears to be an attractive approach for the treatment of maladaptive cardiac remodeling and dysfunction; however, pharmacological modulation of the Nrf2 pathway in the cardiovascular system remains to be established. Herein, we report that a novel synthetic triterpenoid derivative, dihydro-CDDO-trifluoroethyl amide (dh404), activates Nrf2 and suppresses oxidative stress in cardiomyocytes. Dh404 interrupted the Keap1-Cul3-Rbx1 E3 ligase complex-mediated Nrf2 ubiquitination and subsequent degradation saturating the binding capacity of Keap1 to Nrf2, thereby rendering more Nrf2 to be translocated into the nuclei to activate Nrf2-driven gene transcription. A mutant Keap1 protein containing a single cysteine-to-serine substitution at residue 151 within the BTB domain of Keap1 was resistant to dh404-induced stabilization of Nrf2 protein. In addition, dh404 did not dissociate the interaction of Nrf2 with the Keap1-Cul3-Rbx1 E3 ligase complex. Thus, it is likely that dh404 inhibits the ability of Keap1-Cul3-Rbx1 E3 ligase complex to target Nrf2 for ubiquitination and degradation via modifying Cys-151 of Keap1 to change the conformation of the complex. Moreover, dh404 was able to stabilize Nrf2 protein, to enhance Nrf2 nuclear translocation, to activate Nrf2-driven transcription, and to suppress angiotensin II (Ang II)-induced oxidative stress in cardiomyocytes. Knockdown of Nrf2 almost blocked the anti-oxidative effect of dh404. Dh404 activated Nrf2 signaling in the heart. Taken together, dh404 appears to be a novel Nrf2 activator with a therapeutic potential for cardiac diseases via suppressing oxidative stress.
Background: Nuclear factor E2-related factors (NRFs), including NRF2 and NRF1, play critical roles in mediating the cellular adaptive response to oxidative stress. Human exposure to inorganic arsenic, a potent oxidative stressor, causes various dermal disorders, including hyperkeratosis and skin cancer.
Objective: We investigated the cross-regulations among NRF2, NRF1, and KEAP1, a cullin-3–adapter protein that allows NRF2 to be ubiquinated and degraded by the proteasome complex, in arsenic-induced antioxidant responses.
Results: In human keratinocyte HaCaT cells, selective knockdown (KD) of NRF2 by lentiviral short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) significantly reduced the expression of many antioxidant enzymes and sensitized the cells to acute cytotoxicity of inorganic arsenite (iAs3+). In contrast, silencing KEAP1 led to a dramatic resistance to iAs3+-induced apoptosis. Pretreatment of HaCaT cells with NRF2 activators, such as tert-butylhydroquinone, protects the cells against acute iAs3+ toxicity in an NRF2-dependent fashion. Consistent with the negative regulatory role of KEAP1 in NRF2 activation, KEAP1-KD cells exhibited enhanced transcriptional activity of NRF2 under nonstressed conditions. However, deficiency in KEAP1 did not facilitate induction of NRF2-target genes by iAs3+. In addition, NRF2 silencing reduced the expression of KEAP1 at transcription and protein levels but increased the protein expression of NRF1 under the iAs3+-exposed condition. In contrast, silencing KEAP1 augmented protein accumulation of NRF2 under basal and iAs3+-exposed conditions, whereas the iAs3+-induced protein accumulation of NRF1 was attenuated in KEAP1-KD cells.
Conclusions: Our studies suggest that NRF2, KEAP1, and NRF1 are coordinately involved in the regulation of the cellular adaptive response to iAs3+-induced oxidative stress.
antioxidant response; arsenic; cytotoxicity; KEAP1; keratinocyte; NRF1; NRF2
In this study we report on the finding of monomethylarsonous acid [MMA(III)] in human urine. This newly identified arsenic species is a key intermediate in the metabolic pathway of arsenic biomethylation, which involves stepwise reduction of pentavalent to trivalent arsenic species followed by oxidative addition of a methyl group. Arsenic speciation was carried out using ion-pair chromatographic separation of arsenic compounds with hydride generation atomic fluorescence spectrometry detection. Speciation of the inorganic arsenite [As(III)], inorganic arsenate [As(V)], monomethylarsonic acid [MMA(V)], dimethylarsinic acid [DMA(V)], and MMA(III) in a urine sample was complete in 5 min. Urine samples collected from humans before and after a single oral administration of 300 mg sodium 2,3-dimercapto-1-propane sulfonate (DMPS) were analyzed for arsenic species. MMA(III) was found in 51 out of 123 urine samples collected from 41 people in inner Mongolia 0-6 hr after the administration of DMPS. MMA(III )in urine samples did not arise from the reduction of MMA(V) by DMPS. DMPS probably assisted the release of MMA(III) that was formed in the body. Along with the presence of MMA(III), there was an increase in the relative concentration of MMA(V) and a decrease in DMA(V) in the urine samples collected after the DMPS ingestion.
The bZIP transcription factor Nrf2 controls a genetic program that protects cells from oxidative damage and maintains cellular redox homeostasis. Keap1, a BTB-Kelch protein, is the major upstream regulator of Nrf2 and controls both the subcellular localization and steady-state levels of Nrf2. In this report, we demonstrate that Keap1 functions as a substrate adaptor protein for a Cul3-dependent E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. Keap1 assembles into a functional E3 ubiquitin ligase complex with Cul3 and Rbx1 that targets multiple lysine residues located in the N-terminal Neh2 domain of Nrf2 for ubiquitin conjugation both in vivo and in vitro. Keap1-dependent ubiquitination of Nrf2 is inhibited following exposure of cells to quinone-induced oxidative stress and sulforaphane, a cancer-preventive isothiocyanate. A mutant Keap1 protein containing a single cysteine-to-serine substitution at residue 151 within the BTB domain of Keap1 is markedly resistant to inhibition by either quinone-induced oxidative stress or sulforaphane. Inhibition of Keap1-dependent ubiquitination of Nrf2 correlates with decreased association of Keap1 with Cul3. Neither quinone-induced oxidative stress nor sulforaphane disrupts association between Keap1 and Nrf2. Our results suggest that the ability of Keap1 to assemble into a functional E3 ubiquitin ligase complex is the critical determinant that controls steady-state levels of Nrf2 in response to cancer-preventive compounds and oxidative stress.
Previous studies have shown that ethanol exposure causes apoptosis in cranial neural crest cells (NCCs), an ethanol-sensitive cell population implicated in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Additionally, induction of endogenous antioxidants through activation of nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) has been shown to prevent oxidative stress and apoptosis in ethanol-exposed mouse embryos. The objective of this study was to test whether tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ), an Nrf2 inducer, can protect NCCs against ethanol-induced apoptosis. Ethanol exposure was shown to cause a moderate increase in the protein expression of Nrf2 and its downstream antioxidants in the NCCs. Treatment of NCCs with tBHQ alone significantly increased the protein expression of Nrf2 and its downstream antioxidants and also significantly increased the activities of the antioxidant enzymes. In NCCs exposed to ethanol, the tBHQ-mediated antioxidant response prevented oxidative stress and apoptosis. These results clearly demonstrate that activation of Nrf2 signaling confers protection against ethanol-induced apoptosis in NCCs.
Neural crest cells; Nrf2; ethanol; antioxidant; apoptosis
Arsenic compounds are classified as toxicants and human carcinogens. Environmental exposure to arsenic imposes a big health issue worldwide. Arsenic elicits its toxic efforts through many mechanisms, including generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Nrf2 is the primary transcription factor that controls expression of a main cellular antioxidant response, which is required for neutralizing ROS and thus defending cells from exogenous insults. Previously, we demonstrated a protective role of Nrf2 against arsenic-induced toxicity using a cell culture model. In this report, we present evidence that Nrf2 protects against liver and bladder injury in response to six-weeks of arsenic exposure in a mouse model. Nrf2−/− mice displayed more severe pathological changes in the liver and bladder, compared to Nrf2+/+ mice. Furthermore, Nrf2−/− mice were more sensitive to arsenic-induced DNA hypomethylation, oxidative DNA damage, and apoptotic cell death. These results indicate a protective role of Nrf2 against arsenic toxicity in vivo. Hence, this work demonstrates the feasibility of using dietary compounds that target activation of the Nrf2 signaling pathway to alleviate arsenic-induced damage.
The loading of macrophages with oxidized low density lipoprotein (LDL) is a key part of the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. Oxidized LDL contains a wide ranging set of toxic species, yet the molecular events that allow macrophages to withstand loading with these toxic species are not completely characterized. The transcription factor nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) is a master regulator of the cellular stress response. However, the specific parts of the Nrf2-dependent stress response are diverse, with both tissue- and treatment-dependent components. The goal of these experiments was to develop and use a quantitative proteomic approach to characterize the Nrf2-dependent response in macrophages to oxidized LDL. Cultured mouse macrophages, the J774 macrophage-like cell line, were treated with a combination of oxidized LDL, the Nrf2-stabilizing reagent tert- butylhydroquinone (tBHQ), and/or Nrf2 siRNA. Protein expression was determined using a quantitative proteomics assay based on selected reaction monitoring. The assay was multiplexed to monitor a set of 28 antioxidant and stress response proteins, 6 housekeeping proteins, and 1 non-endogenous standard protein. The results have two components. The first component is the validation of the multiplexed, quantitative proteomics assay. The assay is shown to be fundamentally quantitative, precise, and accurate. The second component is the characterization of the Nrf2-mediated stress response. Treatment with tBHQ and/or Nrf2 siRNA gave statistically significant changes in the expression of a subset of 11 proteins. Treatment with oxidized LDL gave statistically significant increases in the expression of 7 of those 11 proteins plus one additional protein. All of the oxLDL-mediated increases were attenuated by Nrf2 siRNA. These results reveal a specific, multifaceted response of the foam cells to the incoming toxic oxidized LDL.
Exposure to arsenic is associated with an increased risk of lung disease. Novel strategies are needed to reduce the adverse health effects associated with arsenic exposure in the lung. Nrf2, a transcription factor that mediates an adaptive cellular defense response, is effective in detoxifying environmental insults and prevents a broad spectrum of diseases induced by environmental exposure to harmful substances. In this report, we tested whether Nrf2 activation protects mice from arsenic-induced toxicity. We used an in vivo arsenic inhalation model that is highly relevant to low environmental human exposure to arsenic-containing dusts. Two-week exposure to arsenic-containing dust resulted in pathological alterations, oxidative DNA damage, and mild apoptotic cell death in the lung; all of which were blocked by sulforaphane (SF) in an Nrf2-dependent manner. Mechanistically, SF-mediated activation of Nrf2 alleviated inflammatory responses by modulating cytokine production. This study provides strong evidence that dietary intervention targeting Nrf2 activation is a feasible approach to reduce adverse health effects associated with arsenic exposure.
Nrf2; Keap1; Arsenic; Antioxidant response
Bladder cancer has been associated with chronic arsenic exposure. Monomethylarsonous acid [MMA(III)] is a metabolite of inorganic arsenic and has been shown to transform an immortalized urothelial cell line (UROtsa) at concentrations 20-fold less than arsenite. MMA(III) was used as a model arsenical to examine the mechanisms of arsenical-induced transformation of urothelium. A microarray analysis was performed to assess the transcriptional changes in UROtsa during the critical window of chronic 50 nM MMA(III) exposure that leads to transformation at three months of exposure. The analysis revealed only minor changes in gene expression at one and two months of exposure, contrasting with substantial changes observed at three months of exposure. The gene expression changes at three months were analyzed showing distinct alterations in biological processes and pathways such as a response to oxidative stress, enhanced cell proliferation, anti-apoptosis, MAPK signaling, as well as inflammation. Twelve genes selected as markers of these particular biological processes were used to validate the microarray and these genes showed a time-dependent changes at one and two months of exposure, with the most substantial changes occurring at three months of exposure. These results indicate that there is a strong association between the acquired phenotypic changes that occur with chronic MMA(III) exposure and the observed gene expression patterns that are indicative of a malignant transformation. Although the substantial changes that occur at three months of exposure may be a consequence of transformation, there are common occurrences of altered biological processes between the first two months of exposure and the third, which may be pivotal in driving transformation.
Arsenic; Monomethylarsonous Acid; Bladder Cancer; UROtsa; Gene Expression
Individual variability in human arsenic metabolism has been reported frequently in the literature. This variability could be an underlying determinant of individual susceptibility to arsenic-induced disease in humans. Recent analysis revealing familial aggregation of arsenic metabolic profiles suggests that genetic factors could underlie interindividual variation in arsenic metabolism. We screened two genes responsible for arsenic metabolism, human purine nucleoside phosphorylase (hNP), which functions as an arsenate reductase converting arsenate to arsenite, and human glutathione S-transferase omega 1-1 (hGSTO1-1), which functions as a monomethylarsonic acid (MMA) reductase, converting MMA(V) to MMA(III), to develop a comprehensive catalog of commonly occurring genetic polymorphisms in these genes. This catalog was generated by DNA sequencing of 22 individuals of European ancestry (EA) and 24 individuals of indigenous American (IA) ancestry. In (Italic)hNP(/Italic), 48 polymorphic sites were observed, including 6 that occurred in exons, of which 1 was nonsynonymous (G51S). One intronic polymorphism occurred in a known enhancer region. In hGSTO1-1, 33 polymorphisms were observed. Six polymorphisms occurred in exons, of which 4 were nonsynonymous. In contrast to hNP, in which the IA group was more polymorphic than the EA group, in hGSTO1-1 the EA group was more polymorphic than the IA group, which had only 1 polymorphism with a frequency > 10%. Populations representing genetic admixture between the EA and IA groups, such as Mexican Hispanics, could vary in the extent of polymorphism in these genes based upon the extent of admixture. These data provide a framework in which to conduct genetic association studies of these two genes in relevant populations, thereby allowing hNP and hGSTO1-1 to be evaluated as potential susceptibility genes in human arsenicism.
Activation of the transcription factor Nrf2 (nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2) is one of the major cellular defense lines against oxidative and xenobiotic stress, but also influences genes involved in lipid and glucose metabolism. It is unresolved whether the cytoprotective and metabolic responses mediated by Nrf2 are connected or separable events in non-malignant cells. In this study we show that activation of Nrf2, either by the small molecule sulforaphane or knockout of the Nrf2 inhibitor Keap1, leads to increased cellular glucose uptake and increased glucose addiction in fibroblasts. Upon Nrf2 activation glucose is preferentially metabolized through the pentose phosphate pathway with increased production of NADPH. Interference with the supply of glucose or the pentose phosphate pathway and NADPH generation not only hampers Nrf2-mediated detoxification of reactive oxygen species on the enzyme level but also Nrf2-initiated expression of antioxidant defense proteins, such as glutathione reductase and heme-oxygenase1. We conclude that the Nrf2-dependent protection against oxidative stress relies on an intact pentose phosphate pathway and that there is crosstalk between metabolism and detoxification already at the level of gene expression in mammalian cells.
•Activation of Nrf2 results in increased cellular glucose uptake.•Upon activation of Nrf2 glucose is preferentially metabolized through the PPP.•The resulting increase in NADPH is not only pivotal for functional detoxification of ROS, but also for Nrf2-dependent gene expression in mammalian cells.•These data complement our understanding of the metabolic shade of Nrf2 action.
3BP, 3-bromopyruvate; ATP, adenosine triphosphate; ctrl, control; DCF, dichloroflourescein; DHEA, dehydroandrostendione; DMSO, dimethylsulfoxide; G6PD, glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase; Glut1, glucose transporter 1; GR, glutathione reductase; HO-1, heme oxygenase-1; Keap1, Kelch-like ECH-associated protein1; NADP, nicotine adenine dinucleotide phosphate; Nrf2, nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2; NQO1, NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1; Maf, small masculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma; MEF, mouse embryonic fibroblasts; OXPHOS, oxidative phosphorylation; PBS, phosphate buffered saline; PPP, pentose phosphate pathway; ROS, reactive oxygen species; SFN, sulforaphane; WT, wild type; Nrf2; Glucose addiction; ROS detoxification
Arsenic in drinking water, a mixture of arsenite and arsenate, is associated with increased skin and other cancers in Asia and Latin America, but not the United States. Arsenite alone in drinking water does not cause skin cancers in experimental animals, therefore it is not a complete carcinogen in skin. We recently showed that low concentrations of arsenite enhanced the tumorigenicity of solar UV irradiation in hairless mice, suggesting arsenic co-carcinogenesis with sunlight in skin cancer and perhaps with different carcinogenic partners for lung and bladder tumors. Cocarcinogenic mechanisms could include: blocking DNA repair, stimulating angiogenesis, altering DNA methylation patterns, dysregulating cell cycle control, induction of aneuploidy, and blocking apoptosis. Arsenicals are documented clastogens but not strong mutagens, with weak mutagenic activity reported at highly toxic concentrations of inorganic arsenic. Previously, we showed that arsenite, but not monomethylarsonous acid (MMA[III]), induced delayed mutagenesis in HOS cells. Here, we report new data on the mutagenicity of the trivalent methylated arsenic metabolites MMA(III) and dimethylarsinous acid [DMA(III)] at the gpt locus in Chinese hamster G12 cells. Both methylated arsenicals seemed mutagenic with apparent sublinear dose responses. However, significant mutagenesis occurred only at highly toxic concentrations of MMA(III). Most mutants induced by MMA(III) and DMA(III) mutants exhibited transgene deletions. Some non-deletion mutants exhibited altered DNA methylation. A critical discussion of cell survival leads us to conclude that clastogenesis occurs primarily at highly cytotoxic arsenic concentrations, casting further doubt as to whether a genotoxic mode of action (MOA) for arsenicals is supportable.
arsenite; trivalent methylated metabolites; toxicity; genotoxicity; carcinogenicity; mode of action
Keap1-Nrf2-ARE pathway represents one of the most important cellular defense mechanisms against oxidative stress and xenobiotic damage. Activation of Nrf2 signaling induces the transcriptional regulation of ARE-dependent expression of various detoxifying and antioxidant defense enzymes and proteins. Keap1-Nrf2-ARE signaling has become an attractive target for the prevention and treatment of oxidative stress-related diseases and conditions including cancer, neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, metabolic and inflammatory diseases. Over the last few decades, numerous Nrf2 inducers have been developed and some of them are currently undergoing clinical trials. Recently, over-activation of Nrf2 has been implicated in cancer progression as well as in drug resistance to cancer chemotherapy. Thus, Nrf2 inhibitors could potentially be used to improve the effectiveness of cancer therapy. Herein, we review the signaling mechanism of Keap1-Nrf2-ARE pathway, its disease relevance, and currently known classes of small molecule modulators. We also discuss several aspects of Keap1-Nrf2 interaction, Nrf2-based peptide inhibitor design, and the screening assays currently used for the discovery of direct inhibitors of Keap1-Nrf2 interaction.
Oxidative stress; Keap1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1); Nrf2 (Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2); ARE (antioxidant response element); antioxidant inflammation modulator (AIM)
The KEAP1/NRF2/ARE pathway and the heat shock response are inducible cytoprotective systems regulated by transcription factors NRF2 and HSF1, respectively. We report that structurally distinct small molecule NRF2 activators, all of which react with sulfhydryl groups but differ in potency by 15,000-fold, upregulate Hsp70, a prototypic HSF1-dependent gene. Hsp70 upregulation requires HSF1 but is NRF2 independent. We further demonstrate that a sulfoxythiocarbamate inducer conjugates to the negative regulator of HSF1, Hsp90. The differential concentration dependence of the two responses suggests that activation of NRF2 precedes that of HSF1: the KEAP1/NRF2/ARE pathway is at the fore-front of cellular defense, protecting against instant danger; the heat shock response closely follows to resolve subsequent potentially devastating damage, saving the proteome. This uncovered duality undoubtedly contributes to the cytoprotective effects of such molecules in models of carcinogenesis, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegeneration.
Nrf2:INrf2(Keap1) are cellular sensors of chemical and radiation induced oxidative and electrophilic stress. Nrf2 is a nuclear transcription factor that controls the expression and coordinated induction of a battery of defensive genes encoding detoxifying enzymes and antioxidant proteins. This is a mechanism of critical importance for cellular protection and cell survival. Nrf2 is retained in the cytoplasm by an inhibitor INrf2. INrf2 functions as an adapter for Cul3/Rbx1 mediated degradation of Nrf2. In response to oxidative/electrophilic stress, Nrf2 is switched on and then off by distinct early and delayed mechanisms. Oxidative/electrophilic modification of INrf2cysteine151 and/or PKC phosphorylation of Nrf2serine40 results in the escape or release of Nrf2 from INrf2. Nrf2 is stabilized and translocates to the nucleus, forms heterodimers with unknown proteins, and binds antioxidant response element (ARE) that leads to coordinated activation of gene expression. It takes less than fifteen minutes from the time of exposure to switch on nuclear import of Nrf2. This is followed by activation of a delayed mechanism that controls switching off of Nrf2 activation of gene expression. GSK3β phosphorylates Fyn at unknown threonine residue(s) leading to nuclear localization of Fyn. Fyn phosphorylates Nrf2tyrosine568 resulting in nuclear export of Nrf2, binding with INrf2 and degradation of Nrf2. The switching on and off of Nrf2 protect cells against free radical damage, prevents apoptosis and promotes cell survival.
Arsenicals are known to induce ROS, which can lead to DNA damage, oxidative stress, and carcinogenesis. A human urothelial cell line,, UROtsa, was used to study the effects of arsenicals on the human bladder. Arsenite [As(III)] and monomethylarsonous acid [MMA(III)] induce oxidative stress in UROtsa cells after exposure to concentrations as low as 1 μM and 50 nM, respectively. Previous research has implicated ROS as signaling molecules in the MAPK signaling pathway. As(III) and MMA(III) have been shown to increase phosphorylation of key proteins in the MAPK signaling cascade downstream of ErbB2. Both Src phosphorylation (p-Src) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) are induced after exposure to 50 nM MMA(III) and 1 μM As(III). These data suggest that ROS production is a plausible mechanism for the signaling alterations seen in UROtsa cells after acute arsenical exposure. To determine importance of ROS in the MAPK cascade and its downstream induction of p-Src and COX-2, specific ROS antioxidants (both enzymatic and non-enzymatic) were used concomitantly with arsenicals. COX-2 protein and mRNA was shown to be much more influenced by altering the levels of ROS in cells, particularly after MMA(III) treatment. The antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) effectively blocked both As(III)-and MMA(III)-associated COX-2 induction. The generation of ROS and subsequent altered signaling did lead to changes in protein levels of SOD, which were detected after treatment with either 1 μM As(III) or 50 nM MMA(III). These data suggest that the generation of ROS by arsenicals may be a mechanism leading to the altered cellular signaling seen after low-level arsenical exposure.
arsenite [As(III)]; monomethylarsonous acid [MMA(III)]; ROS; ROS scavengers; MAPK
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can induce intestinal inflammatory response and mucosal injury. Antioxidant transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) has been shown in our previous studies to prevent oxidative stress and inflammatory response in gut after TBI. The objective of this study was to test whether tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ), an Nrf2 inducer, can protect against TBI-induced intestinal inflammatory response and mucosal injury in mice. Adult male ICR mice were randomly divided into three groups: (1) sham + vehicle group, (2) TBI + vehicle group, and (3) TBI + tBHQ group (n = 12 per group). Closed head injury was adopted using Hall's weight-dropping method. Intestinal mucosa apoptosis and inflammatory-related factors, such as nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), were investigated at 24 h after TBI. As a result, we found that oral treatment with 1% tBHQ prior to TBI for one week markedly decreased NF-κB activation, inflammatory cytokines production, and ICAM-1 expression in the gut. Administration of tBHQ also significantly attenuated TBI-induced intestinal mucosal apoptosis. The results of the present study suggest that tBHQ administration could suppress the intestinal inflammation and reduce the mucosal damage following TBI.
Keap1/Nrf2 signaling defends organisms against the detrimental effects of oxidative stress, and has been suggested to abate its consequences, including aging-associated diseases like neurodegeneration, chronic inflammation, and cancer. Nrf2 is a prominent target for drug discovery, and Nrf2-activating agents are in clinical trials for cancer chemoprevention. However, aberrant activation of Nrf2 by keap1 somatic mutations may contribute to carcinogenesis and promote resistance to chemotherapy. To evaluate potential functions of Keap1 and Nrf2 for organismal homeostasis, we characterized the pathway in Drosophila. We demonstrate that Keap1/Nrf2 signaling in the fruitfly is activated by oxidants, induces antioxidant and detoxification responses, and confers increased tolerance to oxidative stress. Importantly, keap1 loss-of-function mutations extend the lifespan of Drosophila males, supporting a role for Nrf2 signaling in the regulation of longevity. Interestingly, cancer chemopreventive drugs potently stimulate Drosophila Nrf2 activity, suggesting the fruitfly as an experimental system to identify and characterize such agents.
The transcription factor Nrf2 is the master regulator of a cellular defense mechanism against environmental insults. The Nrf2-mediated antioxidant response is accomplished by the transcription of a battery of genes that encode phase II detoxifying enzymes, xenobiotic transporters, and antioxidants. Coordinated expression of these genes is critical in protecting cells from toxic and carcinogenic insults and in maintaining cellular redox homeostasis. Activation of the Nrf2 pathway is primarily controlled by Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1), which is a molecular switch that turns on or off the Nrf2 signaling pathway according to intracellular redox conditions. Here we report our finding of a novel Nrf2 suppressor ectodermal-neural cortex 1 (ENC1), which is a BTB-Kelch protein and belongs to the same family as Keap1. Transient expression of ENC1 reduced steady-state levels of Nrf2 and its downstream gene expression. Although ENC1 interacted with Keap1 indirectly, the ENC1-mediated down-regulation of Nrf2 was independent of Keap1. The negative effect of ENC1 on Nrf2 was not due to a change in the stability of Nrf2 because neither proteasomal nor lysosomal inhibitors had any effects. Overexpression of ENC1 did not result in a change in the level of Nrf2 mRNA, rather, it caused a decrease in the rate of Nrf2 protein synthesis. These results demonstrate that ENC1 functions as a negative regulator of Nrf2 through suppressing Nrf2 protein translation, which adds another level of complexity in controlling the Nrf2 signaling pathway.
A constitutively downregulated cytoprotective mechanism in response to oxidative stress and its constant companion, inflammation, may exist in clinical and experimental diabetes. The Nrf2 signaling pathway promotes the expression of a plethora of genes that regulate processes involved in protein stability, proteosome integrity, autophagy, senescence and protection against oxidative stress and inflammation. Nrf2 is held in the cytoplasm as an inactive complex bound to Keap1, which facilitates its ubiquitination. Dissociation of Nrf2 from its repressor Keap1 occurs in response to a stressful insult. Covalent modifications involving phosphorylation or acetylation of the free Nrf2 dictates its nucleocytoplasmic localization and henceforth the transcriptional activity of this pleiotropic protein. Bitar and Al-Mulla recently reported that an enhancement in the GSK-3β-Fyn signaling mechanism in wounds or fibroblasts of type 2 diabetes contributes to the diminution in Nrf2 nuclear accumulation and the concomitant aberration in the expression of Nrf2-dependent phase 2 antioxidant enzymes. This phenomenon was associated with a significant decrease in key fibroblast functions essential for wound healing, including cell migration and contraction. Overall, the authors newly identified defects in the GSK-3β-Fyn-Nrf2 signaling pathway during diabetes that may assist in placing us on the road for an evidence-based therapy of non-healing chronic wounds.
Nrf2; diabetes; fibroblasts; oxidative stress; wound healing