PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-25 (1549958)

Clipboard (0)
None

Related Articles

1.  High levels of Nrf2 determine chemoresistance in type II endometrial cancer 
Cancer research  2010;70(13):5486-5496.
Type II endometrial cancer, which mainly presents as serous and clear cell types, has proved to be the most malignant and recurrent carcinoma among various female genital malignancies. The transcription factor, Nrf2, was first described as having chemopreventive activity. Activation of the Nrf2-mediated cellular defense response protects cells against the toxic and carcinogenic effects of environmental insults by upregulating an array of genes that detoxify reactive oxygen species (ROS) and restore cellular redox homeostasis. However, the cancer-promoting role of Nrf2 has recently been revealed. Nrf2 is constitutively upregulated in several types of human cancer tissues and cancer cell lines. Furthermore, inhibition of Nrf2 expression sensitizes cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs. In this study, the constitutive level of Nrf2 was compared in different types of human endometrial tumors. It was found that Nrf2 was highly expressed in endometrial serous carcinoma (ESC), whereas complex hyperplasia (CH) and endometrial endometrioid carcinoma (EEC) had no or marginal expression of Nrf2. Likewise, the ESC derived SPEC-2 cell line had a higher level of Nrf2 expression and was more resistant to the toxic effects of cisplatin and paclitaxel than that of the Ishikawa cell line, which was generated from EEC. Silencing of Nrf2 rendered SPEC-2 cells more susceptible to chemotherapeutic drugs while it had a limited effect on Ishikawa cells. Inhibition of Nrf2 expression by overexpressing Keap1 sensitized SPEC-2 cells or SPEC-2-derived xenografts to chemotherapeutic treatments using both cell culture and SCID mouse models. Collectively, we provide a molecular basis for the use of Nrf2 inhibitors to increase the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs and to combat chemoresistance, the biggest obstacle in chemotherapy.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-0713
PMCID: PMC2896449  PMID: 20530669
Nrf2; chemoresistance; and endometrial cancer
2.  Arsenic-Mediated Activation of the Nrf2-Keap1 Antioxidant Pathway 
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.
doi:10.1002/jbt.21463
PMCID: PMC3725327  PMID: 23188707
Nrf2; Arsenic; Keap1; Oxidative stress; p62; Autophagy; Chemoprevention
3.  Identification and quantification of the basal and inducible Nrf2-dependent proteomes in mouse liver: Biochemical, pharmacological and toxicological implications 
Journal of Proteomics  2014;108(100):171-187.
The transcription factor Nrf2 is a master regulator of cellular defence: Nrf2 null mice (Nrf2(−/−)) are highly susceptible to chemically induced toxicities. We report a comparative iTRAQ-based study in Nrf2(−/−) mice treated with a potent inducer, methyl-2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)dien-28-oate (CDDO-me; bardoxolone -methyl), to define both the Nrf2-dependent basal and inducible hepatoproteomes. One thousand five hundred twenty-one proteins were fully quantified (FDR < 1%). One hundred sixty-one were significantly different (P < 0.05) between WT and Nrf2(−/−) mice, confirming extensive constitutive regulation by Nrf2. Treatment with CDDO-me (3 mg/kg; i.p.) resulted in significantly altered expression of 43 proteins at 24 h in WT animals. Six proteins were regulated at both basal and inducible levels exhibiting the largest dynamic range of Nrf2 regulation: cytochrome P4502A5 (CYP2A5; 17.2-fold), glutathione-S-transferase-Mu 3 (GSTM3; 6.4-fold), glutathione-S-transferase Mu 1 (GSTM1; 5.9-fold), ectonucleoside-triphosphate diphosphohydrolase (ENTPD5; 4.6-fold), UDP-glucose-6-dehydrogenase (UDPGDH; 4.1-fold) and epoxide hydrolase (EPHX1; 3.0-fold). These proteins, or their products, thus provide a potential source of biomarkers for Nrf2 activity. ENTPD5 is of interest due to its emerging role in AKT signalling and, to our knowledge, this protein has not been previously shown to be Nrf2-dependent. Only two proteins altered by CDDO-me in WT animals were similarly affected in Nrf2(−/−) mice, demonstrating the high degree of selectivity of CDDO-me for the Nrf2:Keap1 signalling pathway.
Biological significance
The Nrf2:Keap1 signalling pathway is attracting considerable interest as a therapeutic target for different disease conditions. For example, CDDO-me (bardoxolone methyl) was investigated in clinical trials for the treatment of acute kidney disease, and dimethyl fumarate, recently approved for reducing relapse rate in multiple sclerosis, is a potent Nrf2 inducer. Such compounds have been suggested to act through multiple mechanisms; therefore, it is important to define the selectivity of Nrf2 inducers to assess the potential for off-target effects that may lead to adverse drug reactions, and to provide biomarkers with which to assess therapeutic efficacy. Whilst there is considerable information on the global action of such inducers at the mRNA level, this is the first study to catalogue the hepatic protein expression profile following acute exposure to CDDO-me in mice. At a dose shown to evoke maximal Nrf2 induction in the liver, CDDO-me appeared highly selective for known Nrf2-regulated proteins. Using the transgenic Nrf2(−/−) mouse model, it could be shown that 97% of proteins induced in wild type mice were associated with a functioning Nrf2 signalling pathway. This analysis allowed us to identify a panel of proteins that were regulated both basally and following Nrf2 induction. Identification of these proteins, which display a large magnitude of variation in their expression, provides a rich source of potential biomarkers for Nrf2 activity for use in experimental animals, and which may be translatable to man to define individual susceptibility to chemical stress, including that associated with drugs, and also to monitor the pharmacological response to Nrf2 inducers.
Graphical abstract
Highlights
•Liver proteomes from WT, Nrf2-null and Nrf2-induced mice were compared by iTRAQ•Of 1521 proteins quantified, 161 were regulated basally and 43 following induction•Six proteins were both basally and inducibly regulated, with high dynamic ranges•In order of fold change, these proteins were CYP2A5, GSTM3, GSTM1, ENTPD5, G6PD, EPHX1•These proteins may yield translatable biomarkers for clinical development
doi:10.1016/j.jprot.2014.05.007
PMCID: PMC4115266  PMID: 24859727
Nrf2; iTRAQ; ENTPD5; CYP2A5; Hepatoproteome; CDDO
4.  Nrf2 enhances resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs, the dark side of Nrf2 
Carcinogenesis  2008;29(6):1235-1243.
Drug resistance during chemotherapy is the major obstacle to the successful treatment of many cancers. Here, we report that inhibition of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) may be a promising strategy to combat chemoresistance. Nrf2 is a critical transcription factor regulating a cellular protective response that defends cells against toxic insults from a broad spectrum of chemicals. Under normal conditions, the low constitutive amount of Nrf2 protein is maintained by the Kelch-like ECH-associated protein1 (Keap1)-mediated ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation system. Upon activation, this Keap1-dependent Nrf2 degradation mechanism is quickly inactivated, resulting in accumulation and activation of the antioxidant response element (ARE)-dependent cytoprotective genes. Since its discovery, Nrf2 has been viewed as a ‘good’ transcription factor that protects us from many diseases. In this study, we demonstrate the dark side of Nrf2: stable overexpression of Nrf2 resulted in enhanced resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents including cisplatin, doxorubicin and etoposide. Inversely, downregulation of the Nrf2-dependent response by overexpression of Keap1 or transient transfection of Nrf2–small interfering RNA (siRNA) rendered cancer cells more susceptible to these drugs. Upregulation of Nrf2 by the small chemical tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) also enhanced the resistance of cancer cells, indicating the feasibility of using small chemical inhibitors of Nrf2 as adjuvants to chemotherapy to increase the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents. Furthermore, we provide evidence that the strategy of using Nrf2 inhibitors to increase efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents is not limited to certain cancer types or anticancer drugs and thus can be applied during the course of chemotherapy to treat many cancer types.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgn095
PMCID: PMC3312612  PMID: 18413364
5.  Ectodermal-Neural Cortex 1 Down-Regulates Nrf2 at the Translational Level 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5492.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005492
PMCID: PMC2675063  PMID: 19424503
6.  Dysfunctional KEAP1–NRF2 Interaction in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e420.
Background
Nuclear factor erythroid-2 related factor 2 (NRF2) is a redox-sensitive transcription factor that positively regulates the expression of genes encoding antioxidants, xenobiotic detoxification enzymes, and drug efflux pumps, and confers cytoprotection against oxidative stress and xenobiotics in normal cells. Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1) negatively regulates NRF2 activity by targeting it to proteasomal degradation. Increased expression of cellular antioxidants and xenobiotic detoxification enzymes has been implicated in resistance of tumor cells against chemotherapeutic drugs.
Methods and Findings
Here we report a systematic analysis of the KEAP1 genomic locus in lung cancer patients and cell lines that revealed deletion, insertion, and missense mutations in functionally important domains of KEAP1 and a very high percentage of loss of heterozygosity at 19p13.2, suggesting that biallelic inactivation of KEAP1 in lung cancer is a common event. Sequencing of KEAP1 in 12 cell lines and 54 non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) samples revealed somatic mutations in KEAP1 in a total of six cell lines and ten tumors at a frequency of 50% and 19%, respectively. All the mutations were within highly conserved amino acid residues located in the Kelch or intervening region domain of the KEAP1 protein, suggesting that these mutations would likely abolish KEAP1 repressor activity. Evaluation of loss of heterozygosity at 19p13.2 revealed allelic losses in 61% of the NSCLC cell lines and 41% of the tumor samples. Decreased KEAP1 activity in cancer cells induced greater nuclear accumulation of NRF2, causing enhanced transcriptional induction of antioxidants, xenobiotic metabolism enzymes, and drug efflux pumps.
Conclusions
This is the first study to our knowledge to demonstrate that biallelic inactivation of KEAP1 is a frequent genetic alteration in NSCLC. Loss of KEAP1 function leading to constitutive activation of NRF2-mediated gene expression in cancer suggests that tumor cells manipulate the NRF2 pathway for their survival against chemotherapeutic agents.
Biallelic inactivation ofKEAP1, a frequent genetic alteration in NSCLC, is associated with activation of the NRF2 pathway which leads to expression of genes that contribute to resistance against chemotherapeutic drugs.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide. More than 150,000 people in the US alone die every year from this disease, which can be split into two basic types—small cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Four out of five lung cancers are NSCLCs, but both types are mainly caused by smoking. Exposure to chemicals in smoke produces changes (or mutations) in the genetic material of the cells lining the lungs that cause the cells to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. In more than half the people who develop NSCLC, the cancer has spread out of the lungs before it is diagnosed, and therefore can't be removed surgically. Stage IV NSCLC, as this is known, is usually treated with chemotherapy—toxic chemicals that kill the fast-growing cancer cells. However, only 2% of people with stage IV NSCLC are still alive two years after their diagnosis, mainly because their cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy. They do this by making proteins that destroy cancer drugs (detoxification enzymes) or that pump them out of cells (efflux pumps) and by making antioxidants, chemicals that protect cells against the oxidative damage caused by many chemotherapy agents.
Why Was This Study Done?
To improve the outlook for patients with lung cancer, researchers need to discover exactly how cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy drugs. Detoxification enzymes, efflux pumps, and antioxidants normally protect cells from environmental toxins and from oxidants produced by the chemical processes of life. Their production is regulated by nuclear factor erythroid-2 related factor 2 (NRF2). The activity of this transcription factor (a protein that controls the expression of other proteins) is controlled by the protein Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1). KEAP1 holds NRF2 in the cytoplasm of the cell (the cytoplasm surrounds the cell's nucleus, where the genetic material is stored) when no oxidants are present and targets it for destruction. When oxidants are present, KEAP1 no longer interacts with NRF2, which moves into the nucleus and induces the expression of the proteins that protect the cell against oxidants and toxins. In this study, the researchers investigated whether changes in KEAP1 might underlie the drug resistance seen in lung cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers looked carefully at the gene encoding KEAP1 in tissue taken from lung tumors and in several lung cancer cell lines—tumor cells that have been grown in a laboratory. They found mutations in parts of KEAP1 known to be important for its function in half the cell lines and a fifth of the tumor samples. They also found that about half of the samples had lost part of one copy of the KEAP1 gene—cells usually have two copies of each gene. Five of the six tumors with KEAP1 mutations had also lost one copy of KEAP1—geneticists call this biallelic inactivation. This means that these tumors should have no functional KEAP1. When the researchers checked this by staining the tumors for NRF2, they found that the tumor cells had more NRF2 than normal cells and that it accumulated in the nucleus. In addition, the tumor cells made more detoxification enzymes, efflux proteins, and antioxidants than normal cells. Finally, the researchers showed that lung cancer cells with KEAP1 mutations were more resistant to chemotherapy drugs than normal lung cells were.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results indicate that biallelic inactivation of KEAP1 is a frequent genetic alteration in NSCLC and suggest that the loss of KEAP1 activity is one way that lung tumors can increase their NRF2 activity and develop resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs. More lung cancer samples need to be examined to confirm this result, and similar studies need to be done in other cancers to see whether loss of KEAP1 activity is a common mechanism by which tumors become resistant to chemotherapy. If such studies confirm that high NRF2 activity (either through mutation or by some other route) is often associated with a poor tumor response to chemotherapy, then the development of NRF2 inhibitors might help to improve treatment outcomes in patients with chemotherapy-resistant tumors.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030420.
US National Cancer Institute information on lung cancer and on cancer treatment
MedlinePlus entries on small cell lung cancer and NSCLC Cancer Research UK information on lung cancer
Wikipedia entries on lung cancer and chemotherapy (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030420
PMCID: PMC1584412  PMID: 17020408
7.  Molecular mechanisms of Nrf2 regulation and how these influence chemical modulation for disease intervention 
Biochemical Society Transactions  2015;43(4):680-686.
Nrf2 (nuclear factor erytheroid-derived-2-like 2) transcriptional programmes are activated by a variety of cellular stress conditions to maintain cellular homoeostasis. Under non-stress conditions, Nrf2 is under tight regulation by the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS). Detailed mechanistic investigations have shown the Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1)–cullin3 (Cul3)–ring-box1 (Rbx1) E3-ligase to be the primary Nrf2 regulatory system. Recently, both beta-transducin repeat-containing E3 ubiquitin protein ligase (β-TrCP) and E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase synoviolin (Hrd1) have been identified as novel E3 ubiquitin ligases that negatively regulate Nrf2 through Keap1-independent mechanisms. In addition to UPS-mediated regulation of Nrf2, investigations have revealed a cross-talk between Nrf2 and the autophagic pathway resulting in activation of Nrf2 in a non-canonical manner. In addition to regulation at the protein level, Nrf2 was recently shown to be regulated at the transcriptional level by oncogenic K-rat sarcoma (Ras). A consequence of these differential regulatory mechanisms is the dual role of Nrf2 in cancer: the canonical, protective role and the non-canonical ‘dark-side’ of Nrf2. Based on the protective role of Nrf2, a vast effort has been dedicated towards identifying novel chemical inducers of Nrf2 for the purpose of chemoprevention. On the other hand, upon malignant transformation, some cancer cells have a constitutively high level of Nrf2 offering a growth advantage, as well as rendering cancer cells resistant to chemotherapeutics. This discovery has led to a new paradigm in cancer treatment; the initially counterintuitive use of Nrf2 inhibitors as adjuvants in chemotherapy. Herein, we will discuss the mechanisms of Nrf2 regulation and how this detailed molecular understanding can be leveraged to develop Nrf2 modulators to prevent diseases, mitigate disease progression or overcome chemoresistance.
doi:10.1042/BST20150020
PMCID: PMC4613518  PMID: 26551712
chemoprevention/chemoresistance; Hrd1; Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1); nuclear factor erytheroid-derived-2-like 2 (Nrf2); reactive oxygen species (ROS); ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS)
8.  Activation of Nrf2-antioxidant signaling attenuates NF-κB-inflammatory response and elicits apoptosis 
Biochemical pharmacology  2008;76(11):1485-1489.
Oxidative stress has been implicated in the etiology of neurodegenerative disease, cancer and aging. Indeed, the reactive oxygen and nitrogen species generated by inflammatory cells that created oxidative stress is thought to be one of the major factor by which chronic inflammation contributes to neoplastic transformation as well as many other diseases. We have recently reported that mice lacking nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) are more susceptibility to dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis and colorectal carcinogenesis. Nrf2 is a basic leucine zipper redox-sensitive transcriptional factor that plays a center role in ARE (antioxidant response element)-mediated induction of phase II detoxifying and antioxidant enzymes. We found that increased susceptibility of Nrf2 deficient mice to DSS-induced colitis and colorectal cancer was associated with decreased expression of antioxidant/phase II detoxifying enzymes in parallel with upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines/biomarkers. These findings suggest that Nrf2 may play an important role in defense against oxidative stress possibly by activation of cellular antioxidant machinery as well as suppression of pro-inflammatory signaling pathways. In addition, in vivo and in vitro data generated from our laboratory suggest that many dietary compounds can differentially regulate Nrf2-mediated antioxidant/anti-inflammatory signaling pathways as the first line defense or induce apoptosis once the cells have been damaged. In this review, we will summarize our thoughts on the potential cross-talks between Nrf2 and NF-κB pathways. Although the mechanisms involved in the cross-talk between these signaling pathways are still illusive, targeting Nrf2-antioxidative stress signaling is an ideal strategy to prevent or treat oxidative-stress related diseases.
doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2008.07.017
PMCID: PMC2610259  PMID: 18694732
Nrf2; NF-κB; DSS; AOM; apoptosis
9.  Targeted Deletion of Nrf2 Reduces Urethane-Induced Lung Tumor Development in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26590.
Nrf2 is a key transcription factor that regulates cellular redox and defense responses. However, permanent Nrf2 activation in human lung carcinomas promotes pulmonary malignancy and chemoresistance. We tested the hypothesis that Nrf2 has cell survival properties and lack of Nrf2 suppresses chemically-induced pulmonary neoplasia by treating Nrf2+/+ and Nrf2-/- mice with urethane. Airway inflammation and injury were assessed by bronchoalveolar lavage analyses and histopathology, and lung tumors were analyzed by gross and histologic analysis. We used transcriptomics to assess Nrf2-dependent changes in pulmonary gene transcripts at multiple stages of neoplasia. Lung hyperpermeability, cell death and apoptosis, and inflammatory cell infiltration were significantly higher in Nrf2-/- mice compared to Nrf2+/+ mice 9 and 11 wk after urethane. Significantly fewer lung adenomas were found in Nrf2-/- mice than in Nrf2+/+ mice at 12 and 22 wk. Nrf2 modulated expression of genes involved cell-cell signaling, glutathione metabolism and oxidative stress response, and immune responses during early stage neoplasia. In lung tumors, Nrf2-altered genes had roles in transcriptional regulation of cell cycle and proliferation, carcinogenesis, organismal injury and abnormalities, xenobiotic metabolism, and cell-cell signaling genes. Collectively, Nrf2 deficiency decreased susceptibility to urethane-induced lung tumorigenesis in mice. Cell survival properties of Nrf2 were supported, at least in part, by reduced early death of initiated cells and heightened advantage for tumor cell expansion in Nrf2+/+ mice relative to Nrf2-/- mice. Our results were consistent with the concept that Nrf2 over-activation is an adaptive response of cancer conferring resistance to anti-cancer drugs and promoting malignancy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026590
PMCID: PMC3198791  PMID: 22039513
10.  Oxidative Stress, Mammospheres and Nrf2 – New Implication for Breast Cancer Therapy? 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2014;54(11):1494-1502.
Mammosphere culture of breast cancer cell lines is an important approach used for enrichment of cancer stem cells (CSCs), which exhibit high tumorigenicity and chemoresistance features. Evidence shows that CSCs maintain lower ROS levels due to elevated expression of ROS-scavenging molecules and antioxidative enzymes, which favors the survival of the SLCs and their chemoresistance. The transcription factor NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) has emerged as the master regulator of cellular redox homeostasis, by up-regulating antioxidant response element (ARE)-bearing genes products. Although Nrf2 has long-term been regarded as a beneficial defense mechanism, accumulating studies have revealed the “dark side” of Nrf2. High constitutive levels of Nrf2 was observed in many types of tumors and cancer cell lines promoting their resistance to chemotherapeutics. In this study, we report a high expression of Nrf2 and its target genes in mammospheres, compared to corresponding adherent cells. In MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 mammmosphere cells, the Nrf2-mediated cellular protective response is significantly elevated, which is associated with increased resistance to taxol and anchorage-independent growth. Brusatol, an inhibitor of the Nrf2 pathway, suppressed the protein level of Nrf2 and its target genes, enhanced intracellular ROS and sensitized mammospheres to taxol and reduced the anchorage-independent growth. These results suggest that mammospheres rely on abnormal up-regulation of Nrf2 to maintain low intracellular ROS levels. Nrf2 inhibitors, such as brusatol, have the potential to be developed into novel adjuvant chemotherapeutic drug combinations, in order to combat refractory tumor initiating CSCs.
doi:10.1002/mc.22202
PMCID: PMC4697962  PMID: 25154499
Nrf2; cancer stem cell; chemoresistance
11.  p62 links autophagy and Nrf2 signaling 
Free radical biology & medicine  2015;88(0 0):199-204.
The Nrf2-Keap1-ARE pathway is a redox and xenobiotic sensitive signaling axis that functions to protect cells against oxidative stress, environmental toxicants, and harmful chemicals through the induction of cytoprotective genes. To enforce strict regulation, cells invest a great deal of energy into the maintenance of the Nrf2 pathway to ensure rapid induction upon cellular insult and rapid return to basal levels once the insult is mitigated. Because of the protective role of Nrf2 transcriptional programs, controlled activation of the pathway has been recognized as a means for chemoprevention. On the other hand, constitutive activation of Nrf2, due to somatic mutations of genes that control Nrf2 degradation, promotes carcinogenesis and imparts chemoresistance to cancer cells. Autophagy, a bulk protein degradation process, is another tightly regulated complex cellular process that functions as a cellular quality control system to remove damaged proteins or organelles. Low cellular nutrient levels can also activate autophagy, which acts to restore metabolic homeostasis through the degradation of macromolecules to provide nutrients. Recently, these two cellular pathways were shown to intersect through the direct interaction between p62 (an autophagy adaptor protein) and Keap1 (the Nrf2 substrate adaptor for the Cul3 E3 ubiquitin ligase). Dysregulation of autophagy was shown to result in prolonged Nrf2 activation in a p62-dependent manner. In this review, we will discuss the progress that has been made in dissecting the intersection of these two pathways and the potential tumor-promoting role of prolonged Nrf2 activation.
doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2015.06.014
PMCID: PMC4628872  PMID: 26117325
12.  Oridonin Confers Protection against Arsenic-Induced Toxicity through Activation of the Nrf2-Mediated Defensive Response 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;116(9):1154-1161.
Background
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.
Objectives
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1289/ehp.11464
PMCID: PMC2535615  PMID: 18795156
antioxidant responsive element; antitumor; ARE; arsenic; chemoprevention; diterpenoid; Keap1; Nrf2; oridonin; oxidative stress; rubescensin
13.  Tanshinone I Activates the Nrf2-Dependent Antioxidant Response and Protects Against As(III)-Induced Lung Inflammation In Vitro and In Vivo 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;19(14):1647-1661.
Abstract
Aims: The NF-E2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2) signaling pathway regulates the cellular antioxidant response and activation of Nrf2 has recently been shown to limit tissue damage from exposure to environmental toxicants, including As(III). In an attempt to identify improved molecular agents for systemic protection against environmental insults, we have focused on the identification of novel medicinal plant-derived Nrf2 activators. Results: Tanshinones [tanshinone I (T-I), tanshinone IIA, dihydrotanshinone, cryptotanshinone], phenanthrenequinone-based redox therapeutics derived from the medicinal herb Salvia miltiorrhiza, have been tested as experimental therapeutics for Nrf2-dependent cytoprotection. Using a dual luciferase reporter assay overexpressing wild-type or mutant Kelch-like ECH-associated protein-1 (Keap1), we demonstrate that T-I is a potent Keap1-C151-dependent Nrf2 activator that stabilizes Nrf2 by hindering its ubiquitination. In human bronchial epithelial cells exposed to As(III), T-I displays pronounced cytoprotective activity with upregulation of Nrf2-orchestrated gene expression. In Nrf2 wild-type mice, systemic administration of T-I attenuates As(III) induced inflammatory lung damage, a protective effect not observed in Nrf2 knockout mice. Innovation: Tanshinones have been identified as a novel class of Nrf2-inducers for antioxidant tissue protection in an in vivo As(III) inhalation model, that is relevant to low doses of environmental exposure. Conclusion: T-I represents a prototype Nrf2-activator that displays cytoprotective activity upon systemic administration targeting lung damage originating from environmental insults. T-I based Nrf2-directed systemic intervention may provide therapeutic benefit in protecting other organs against environmental insults. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 19, 1647–1661.
doi:10.1089/ars.2012.5117
PMCID: PMC3809600  PMID: 23394605
14.  The Mediator Subunit MED16 Transduces NRF2-Activating Signals into Antioxidant Gene Expression 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2016;36(3):407-420.
The KEAP1-NRF2 system plays a central role in cytoprotection. NRF2 is stabilized in response to electrophiles and activates transcription of antioxidant genes. Although robust induction of NRF2 target genes confers resistance to oxidative insults, how NRF2 triggers transcriptional activation after binding to DNA has not been elucidated. To decipher the molecular mechanisms underlying NRF2-dependent transcriptional activation, we purified the NRF2 nuclear protein complex and identified the Mediator subunits as NRF2 cofactors. Among them, MED16 directly associated with NRF2. Disruption of Med16 significantly attenuated the electrophile-induced expression of NRF2 target genes but did not affect hypoxia-induced gene expression, suggesting a specific requirement for MED16 in NRF2-dependent transcription. Importantly, we found that 75% of NRF2-activated genes exhibited blunted inductions by electrophiles in Med16-deficient cells compared to wild-type cells, which strongly argues that MED16 is a major contributor supporting NRF2-dependent transcriptional activation. NRF2-dependent phosphorylation of the RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain was absent in Med16-deficient cells, suggesting that MED16 serves as a conduit to transmit NRF2-activating signals to RNA polymerase II. MED16 indeed turned out to be essential for cytoprotection against oxidative insults. Thus, the KEAP1-NRF2-MED16 axis has emerged as a new regulatory pathway mediating the antioxidant response through the robust activation of NRF2 target genes.
doi:10.1128/MCB.00785-15
PMCID: PMC4719425  PMID: 26572828
15.  De-Differentiation Confers Multidrug Resistance Via Noncanonical PERK-Nrf2 Signaling 
PLoS Biology  2014;12(9):e1001945.
Upregulation of PERK-Nrf2 signaling is a key mechanism by which de-differentiated cancer cells gain multi-drug resistance.
Malignant carcinomas that recur following therapy are typically de-differentiated and multidrug resistant (MDR). De-differentiated cancer cells acquire MDR by up-regulating reactive oxygen species (ROS)–scavenging enzymes and drug efflux pumps, but how these genes are up-regulated in response to de-differentiation is not known. Here, we examine this question by using global transcriptional profiling to identify ROS-induced genes that are already up-regulated in de-differentiated cells, even in the absence of oxidative damage. Using this approach, we found that the Nrf2 transcription factor, which is the master regulator of cellular responses to oxidative stress, is preactivated in de-differentiated cells. In de-differentiated cells, Nrf2 is not activated by oxidation but rather through a noncanonical mechanism involving its phosphorylation by the ER membrane kinase PERK. In contrast, differentiated cells require oxidative damage to activate Nrf2. Constitutive PERK-Nrf2 signaling protects de-differentiated cells from chemotherapy by reducing ROS levels and increasing drug efflux. These findings are validated in therapy-resistant basal breast cancer cell lines and animal models, where inhibition of the PERK-Nrf2 signaling axis reversed the MDR of de-differentiated cancer cells. Additionally, analysis of patient tumor datasets showed that a PERK pathway signature correlates strongly with chemotherapy resistance, tumor grade, and overall survival. Collectively, these results indicate that de-differentiated cells up-regulate MDR genes via PERK-Nrf2 signaling and suggest that targeting this pathway could sensitize drug-resistant cells to chemotherapy.
Author Summary
The development of multidrug resistance is the primary obstacle to treating cancers. High-grade tumors that are less differentiated typically respond poorly to therapy and carry a much worse prognosis than well-differentiated low-grade tumors. Therapy-resistant cancer cells often overexpress antioxidants or efflux proteins that pump drugs out of the cell, but how the differentiation state of cancer cells influences these resistance mechanisms is not well understood. Here we used genome-scale approaches and found that the PERK kinase and its downstream target, Nrf2—a master transcriptional regulator of the cellular antioxidant response—are key mediators of therapy resistance in poorly differentiated breast cancer cells. We show that Nrf2 is activated when cancer cells de-differentiate and that this activation requires PERK. We further show that blocking PERK-Nrf2 signaling with a small-molecule inhibitor sensitizes drug-resistant cancer cells to chemotherapy. Our results identify a novel role for PERK-Nrf2 signaling in multidrug resistance and suggest that targeting this pathway could improve the responsiveness of otherwise resistant tumors to chemotherapy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001945
PMCID: PMC4159113  PMID: 25203443
16.  Nrf2-dependent suppression of azoxymethane/dextran sulfate sodium-induced colon carcinogenesis by the cinnamon-derived dietary factor cinnamaldehyde 
The progressive nature of colorectal cancer (CRC) and poor prognosis associated with the metastatic phase of the disease create an urgent need for the development of more efficacious strategies targeting colorectal carcinogenesis. Cumulative evidence suggests that the redox-sensitive transcription factor Nrf2 (nuclear factor-E2-related factor 2), a master regulator of the cellular antioxidant defence, represents a promising molecular target for CRC chemoprevention. Recently, we have identified cinnamon, the ground bark of Cinnamomum aromaticum (cassia cinnamon) and Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon), as a rich dietary source of the Nrf2 inducer cinnamaldehyde (CA) eliciting the Nrf2-regulated antioxidant response in human epithelial colon cells, conferring cytoprotection against electrophilic and genotoxic insult. Here, we have explored the molecular mechanism underlying CA-induced Nrf2 activation in colorectal epithelial cells and have examined the chemopreventive potential of CA in a murine CRC model comparing Nrf2+/+ and Nrf2−/− mice. In HCT116 cells, CA caused a Keap1-C151-dependent increase in Nrf2 protein half-life via blockage of ubiquitination with upregulation of cytoprotective Nrf2 target genes and elevation of cellular glutathione. After optimizing colorectal Nrf2 activation and target gene expression by dietary CA-supplementation regimens, we demonstrated that CA suppresses AOM/DSS-induced inflammatory colon carcinogenesis with modulation of molecular markers of colorectal carcinogenesis. Dietary suppression of CRC using CA supplementation was achieved in Nrf2+/+ but not in Nrf2−/− mice confirming the Nrf2-dependence of CA-induced chemopreventive effects. Taken together, our data suggest feasibility of CRC suppression by dietary CA, an FDA-approved food additive derived from the third most consumed spice in the world.
doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0359
PMCID: PMC4417412  PMID: 25712056
Nrf2; colon cancer; AOM-DSS; cinnamon; cinnamaldehyde; dietary chemoprevention
17.  p97-dependent retrotranslocation and proteolytic processing govern formation of active Nrf1 upon proteasome inhibition 
eLife  2014;3:e01856.
Proteasome inhibition elicits an evolutionarily conserved response wherein proteasome subunit mRNAs are upregulated, resulting in recovery (i.e., ‘bounce-back’) of proteasome activity. We previously demonstrated that the transcription factor Nrf1/NFE2L1 mediates this homeostatic response in mammalian cells. We show here that Nrf1 is initially translocated into the lumen of the ER, but is rapidly and efficiently retrotranslocated to the cytosolic side of the membrane in a manner that depends on p97/VCP. Normally, retrotranslocated Nrf1 is degraded promptly by the proteasome and active species do not accumulate. However, in cells with compromised proteasomes, retrotranslocated Nrf1 escapes degradation and is cleaved N-terminal to Leu-104 to yield a fragment that is no longer tethered to the ER membrane. Importantly, this cleavage event is essential for Nrf1-dependent activation of proteasome gene expression upon proteasome inhibition. Our data uncover an unexpected role for p97 in activation of a transcription factor by relocalizing it from the ER lumen to the cytosol.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01856.001
eLife digest
Cells exposed to high temperatures, infections and other forms of stress often produce oxygen ions and peroxide molecules that can cause damage to proteins and DNA. Cells therefore rely on molecular machines called proteasomes to eliminate damaged proteins, before they cause too much harm. Two related transcription factors—proteins that interact with DNA to ‘switch on’ the expression of genes—are involved in a cell’s responses to stress, but in different ways. Nrf2 switches on genes that limit the damage caused by oxygen ions and peroxide molecules, while Nrf1 switches on the genes that encode the components of the proteasome. As such, Nrf1 helps to restart proteasome activity if it has been shut off—a phenomenon known as ‘bounce-back’.
Within a cell, Nrf1 is known to start off embedded within the membranes of a structure called the endoplasmic reticulum. However, it is not clear how activated Nrf1 leaves this membrane and enters the nucleus to interact with the cell’s DNA. Now, Radhakrishnan et al. show that when Nrf1 is produced, most of its length is found inside the endoplasmic reticulum, with only a small piece being anchored in the surrounding membrane. This is unlike previously described transcription factors that associate with the endoplasmic reticulum, which are stuck to the outside of this structure.
Radhakrishnan et al. also discovered that the activation of Nrf1 depends on an enzyme called p97 or VCP. This enzyme helps to flip Nrf1 from the inside of the endoplasmic reticulum to its outside surface. In most cells, the proteasome then breaks down this part of Nrf1. However, if the proteasome is inhibited, an unknown enzyme cuts Nrf1 free from the endoplasmic reticulum, allowing it to migrate to the nucleus and promote the production of more proteasome components to counteract the inhibition.
Interestingly, drugs that inhibit the proteasome are used to combat cancer because the build-up of damaged proteins is toxic to the cancer cells. By showing that p97 promotes the ‘bounce-back’ of the proteasome, the work of Radhakrishnan et al. suggests that combining existing proteasome inhibitors with drugs that inhibit p97 could eventually lead to new, more effective, therapies for cancer or other diseases.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01856.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.01856
PMCID: PMC3896944  PMID: 24448410
p97; Nrf1; proteasome; human; mouse
18.  Plant Extracts of the Family Lauraceae: A Potential Resource for Chemopreventive Agents that Activate the Nuclear Factor-Erythroid 2-Related Factor 2/Antioxidant Response Element Pathway 
Planta medica  2014;80(5):426-434.
Cells and tissues counteract insults from exogenous or endogenous carcinogens through the expression of genes encoding antioxidants and phase II detoxifying enzymes regulated by antioxidant response element promoter regions. Nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 plays a key role in regulating the antioxidant response elements-target gene expression. Hence, the Nrf2/ARE pathway represents a vital cellular defense mechanism against damage caused by oxidative stress and xenobiotics, and is recognized as a potential molecular target for discovering chemo-preventive agents. Using a stable antioxidant response element luciferase reporter cell line derived from human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells combined with a 96-well high-throughput screening system, we have identified a series of plant extracts from the family Lauraceae that harbor Nrf2-inducing effects. These extracts, including Litsea garrettii (ZK-08), Cinnamomum chartophyllum (ZK-02), C. mollifolium (ZK-04), C. camphora var. linaloolifera (ZK-05), and C. burmannii (ZK-10), promoted nuclear translocation of Nrf2, enhanced protein expression of Nrf2 and its target genes, and augmented intracellular glutathione levels. Cytoprotective activity of these extracts against two electrophilic toxicants, sodium arsenite and H2O2, was investigated. Treatment of human bronchial epithelial cells with extracts of ZK-02, ZK-05, and ZK-10 significantly improved cell survival in response to sodium arsenite and H2O2, while ZK-08 showed a protective effect against only H2O2. Importantly, their protective effects against insults from both sodium arsenite and H2O2 were Nrf2-dependent. Therefore, our data provide evidence that the selected plants from the family Lauraceae are potential sources for chemopreventive agents targeting the Nrf2/ARE pathway.
doi:10.1055/s-0034-1368197
PMCID: PMC4393250  PMID: 24585092
Lauraceae; Cinnamomum; Litsea; plant extracts; Nrf2/ARE pathway; chemoprevention
19.  Regulation of NF-E2-Related Factor 2 Signaling for Cancer Chemoprevention: Antioxidant Coupled with Antiinflammatory 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2010;13(11):1679-1698.
Abstract
Cancer chemoprevention is a process of using either natural or synthetic compounds to reduce the risk of developing cancer. Observations that NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-deficient mice lack response to some chemopreventive agents point to the important role of Nrf2 in chemoprevention. Nrf2 is a member of basic-leucine zipper transcription factor family and has been shown to regulate gene expression by binding to a response element, antioxidant responsive element. It is generally believed that activation of Nrf2 signaling is an adaptive response to the environmental and endogenous stresses. Under homeostatic conditions, Nrf2 is suppressed by association with Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1), but is stimulated upon exposure to oxidative or electrophilic stress. Once activated, Nrf2 translocates into nuclei and upregulates a group of genes that act in concert to combat oxidative stress. Nrf2 is also shown to have protective function against inflammation, a pathological process that could contribute to carcinogenesis. In this review, we will discuss the current progress in the study of Nrf2 signaling, in particular, the mechanisms of Nrf2 activation by chemopreventive agents. We will also discuss some of the potential caveats of Nrf2 in cancer treatment and future opportunity and challenges on regulation of Nrf2-mediated antioxidant and antiinflammatory signaling in the context of cancer prevention. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 13, 1679–1698.
doi:10.1089/ars.2010.3276
PMCID: PMC2966483  PMID: 20486765
20.  Expression of ABCG2 (BCRP), a Marker of Stem Cells, is Regulated by Nrf2 in Cancer Cells That Confers Side Population and Chemoresistance Phenotype 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(8):2365-2376.
ATP-binding cassette, sub-family G, member 2 (ABCG2) is expressed in both normal and cancer cells, and plays a crucial role in the side population (SP) formation and efflux of xenobiotics and drugs. Nrf2, a redox sensing transcription factor, upon constitutive activation in non-small-cell lung cancer cells up-regulates a wide spectrum of genes involved in redox balance, glutathione metabolism, and drug detoxification that contribute to chemoresistance and tumorigenecity. This study examined the mechanism underlying Nrf2-dependent expression of ABCG2 and its role in multidrug resistance phenotype. In silico analysis of the 5’-promoter flanking region of ABCG2 identified an antioxidant response element at -431 bp to -420 bp. A detailed promoter analysis using luciferase reporter assays demonstrated that antioxidant response element (ARE) at -431 bp to -420 bp is critical for the Nrf2-mediated expression in lung cancer cells. Electrophoresis mobility shift assays (EMSA) and chromatin-immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays revealed that Nrf2 interacts with ABCG2 ARE element at -431 bp to -420 bp in vitro and in vivo. Disruption of Nrf2 expression in lung cancer and prostate cancer cells, by short hairpin RNA, attenuated the expression of ABCG2 transcript and protein and dramatically reduced the SP fraction in Nrf2-depleted cancer cells. Moreover, depleted levels of ABCG2 in these Nrf2-knockdown cells sensitized them to mitoxantrone and topotecan, two chemotherapy drugs detoxified mainly by ABCG2. As expected, overexpression of Nrf2 cDNA in lung epithelial cells led to an increase in ABCG2 expression and a 2-fold higher SP fraction. Thus, Nrf2-mediated regulation of ABCG2 expression maintains SP fraction and confers chemoresistance.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-0108
PMCID: PMC2955865  PMID: 20682644
Nrf2; ABCG2; lung cancer; cancer stem cells; chemo-resistance; RNAi
21.  Nrf2 Pathway Regulates Multidrug-Resistance-Associated Protein 1 in Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63404.
Although multidrug-resistance-associated protein-1 (MRP1) is a major contributor to multi-drug resistance (MDR), the regulatory mechanism of Mrp1 still remains unclear. Nrf2 is a transcription factor that regulates cellular defense response through antioxidant response elements (AREs) in normal tissues. Recently, Nrf2 has emerged as an important contributor to chemo-resistance in tumor tissues. In the present study, the role of Nrf2-ARE pathway on regulation of Mrp1 was investigated. Compared with H69 lung cancer cells, H69AR cells with MDR showed significantly higher Nrf2-ARE pathway activity and expression of Mrp1 as well. When Nrf2 was knocked down in H69AR cells, MRP1's expression decreased accordingly. Moreover, those H69AR cells with reduced Nrf2 level restored sensitivity to chemo-drugs. To explore how Nrf2-ARE pathway regulates Mrp1, the promoter of Mrp1 gene was searched, and two putative AREs—ARE1 and ARE2—were found. Using reporter gene and ChIP assay, both ARE1 and ARE2 showed response to and interaction with Nrf2. In 40 cases of cancer tissues, the expression of Nrf2 and MRP1 was measured by immunohistochemistry (IHC). As the quantitive data of IHC indicated, both Nrf2 and MRP1 showed significantly higher expression in tumor tissue than adjacent non-tumor tissue. And more important, the correlation analysis of the two genes proved that their expression was correlative. Taken together, theses data suggested that Nrf2-ARE pathway is required for the regulatory expression of Mrp1 and implicated Nrf2 as a new therapeutic target for MDR.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063404
PMCID: PMC3646742  PMID: 23667609
22.  Regulation of the Nrf2–Keap1 Antioxidant Response by the Ubiquitin Proteasome System: An Insight into Cullin-Ring Ubiquitin Ligases 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2010;13(11):1699-1712.
Abstract
Nrf2 is a transcription factor that has emerged as the cell's main defense mechanism against many harmful environmental toxicants and carcinogens. Nrf2 is negatively regulated by Keap1, a substrate adaptor protein for the Cullin3 (Cul3)-containing E3-ligase complex, which targets Nrf2 for ubiquitination and degradation by the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS). Recent evidence suggests that constitutive activation of Nrf2, due to mutations in Keap1 or Nrf2, is prominent in many cancer types and contributes to chemoresistance. Regulation of Nrf2 by the Cul3–Keap1-E3 ligase provides strong evidence that tight regulation of Cullin-ring ligases (CRLs) is imperative to maintain cellular homeostasis. There are seven known Cullin proteins that form various CRL complexes. They are regulated by neddylation/deneddylation, ubiquitination/deubiquitination, CAND1-assisted complex assembly/disassembly, and subunit dimerization. In this review, we will discuss the regulation of each CRL using the Cul3–Keap1-E3 ligase complex as the primary focus. The substrates of CRLs are involved in many signaling pathways. Therefore, deregulation of CRLs affects several cellular processes, including cell cycle arrest, DNA repair, cell proliferation, senescence, and death, which may lead to many human diseases, including cancer. This makes CRLs a promising target for novel cancer drug therapies. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 13, 1699–1712.
doi:10.1089/ars.2010.3211
PMCID: PMC2966484  PMID: 20486766
23.  Oncogenic transformation of mesenchymal stem cells decreases Nrf2 expression favoring in vivo tumor growth and poorer survival 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:20.
Background
The transcription factor Nrf2 is a key regulator of the cellular antioxidant response, and its activation by chemoprotective agents has been proposed as a potential strategy to prevent cancer. However, activating mutations in the Nrf2 pathway have been found to promote tumorigenesis in certain models. Therefore, the role of Nrf2 in cancer remains contentious.
Methods
We employed a well-characterized model of stepwise human mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) transformation and breast cancer cell lines to investigate oxidative stress and the role of Nrf2 during tumorigenesis. The Nrf2 pathway was studied by microarray analyses, qRT-PCR, and western-blotting. To assess the contribution of Nrf2 to transformation, we established tumor xenografts with transformed MSC expressing Nrf2 (n = 6 mice per group). Expression and survival data for Nrf2 in different cancers were obtained from GEO and TCGA databases. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results
We found an accumulation of reactive oxygen species during MSC transformation that correlated with the transcriptional down-regulation of antioxidants and Nrf2-downstream genes. Nrf2 was repressed in transformed MSC and in breast cancer cells via oncogene-induced activation of the RAS/RAF/ERK pathway. Furthermore, restoration of Nrf2 function in transformed cells decreased reactive oxygen species and impaired in vivo tumor growth (P = 0.001) by mechanisms that included sensitization to apoptosis, and a decreased hypoxic/angiogenic response through HIF-1α destabilization and VEGFA repression. Microarray analyses showed down-regulation of Nrf2 in a panel of human tumors and, strikingly, low Nrf2 expression correlated with poorer survival in patients with melanoma (P = 0.0341), kidney (P = 0.0203) and prostate (P = 0.00279) cancers.
Conclusions
Our data indicate that oncogene-induced Nrf2 repression is an adaptive response for certain cancers to acquire a pro-oxidant state that favors cell survival and in vivo tumor growth.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-20
PMCID: PMC4015761  PMID: 24491031
Antioxidants; Nrf2; oncogenes; ROS; survival; HIF-1α
24.  Mechanisms of activation of the transcription factor Nrf2 by redox stressors, nutrient cues, and energy status and the pathways through which it attenuates degenerative disease 
Free radical biology & medicine  2015;88(0 0):108-146.
Nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2) regulates the basal and stress-inducible expression of a battery of genes encoding key components of the glutathione-based and thioredoxin-based anti-oxidant systems, as well as aldo-keto reductase, glutathione S-transferase, and NAD(P)H:quinone oxi-doreductase-1 drug-metabolizing isoenzymes along with multidrug-resistance-associated efflux pumps. It therefore plays a pivotal role in both intrinsic resistance and cellular adaptation to reactive oxygen species (ROS) and xenobiotics. Activation of Nrf2 can, however, serve as a double-edged sword because some of the genes it induces may contribute to chemical carcinogenesis by promoting futile redox cycling of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites or confer resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs by increasing the expression of efflux pumps, suggesting its cytoprotective effects will vary in a context-specific fashion. In addition to cytoprotection, Nrf2 also controls genes involved in intermediary metabolism, positively regulating those involved in NADPH generation, purine biosynthesis, and the β-oxidation of fatty acids, while suppressing those involved in lipogenesis and gluconeogenesis. Nrf2 is subject to regulation at multiple levels. Its ability to orchestrate adaptation to oxidants and electrophiles is due principally to stress-stimulated modification of thiols within one of its repressors, the Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1), which is present in the cullin-3 RING ubiquitin ligase (CRL) complex CRLKeap1. Thus modification of Cys residues in Keap1 blocks CRLKeap1 activity, allowing newly translated Nrf2 to accumulate rapidly and induce its target genes. The ability of Keap1 to repress Nrf2 can be attenuated by p62/sequestosome-1 in a mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1)-depen-dent manner, thereby allowing refeeding after fasting to increase Nrf2-target gene expression. In parallel with repression by Keap1, Nrf2 is also repressed by β-transducin repeat-containing protein (β-TrCP), present in the Skp1–cullin-1–F-box protein (SCF) ubiquitin ligase complex SCFβ-TrCP. The ability of SCFβ-TrCP to suppress Nrf2 activity is itself enhanced by prior phosphorylation of the transcription factor by glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) through formation of a DSGIS-containing phosphodegron. However, formation of the phosphodegron in Nrf2 by GSK-3 is inhibited by stimuli that activate protein kinase B (PKB)/Akt. In particular, PKB/Akt activity can be increased by phosphoinositide 3-kinase and mTORC2, thereby providing an explanation of why antioxidant-responsive element-driven genes are induced by growth factors and nutrients. Thus Nrf2 activity is tightly controlled via CRLKeap1 and SCFβ-TrCP by oxidative stress and energy-based signals, allowing it to mediate adaptive responses that restore redox homeostasis and modulate intermediary metabolism. Based on the fact that Nrf2 influences multiple biochemical pathways in both positive and negative ways, it is likely its dose–response curve, in terms of susceptibility to certain degenerative disease, is U-shaped. Specifically, too little Nrf2 activity will lead to loss of cytoprotection, diminished antioxidant capacity, and lowered β-oxidation of fatty acids, while conversely also exhibiting heightened sensitivity to ROS-based signaling that involves receptor tyrosine kinases and apoptosis signal-regulating kinase-1. By contrast, too much Nrf2 activity disturbs the homeostatic balance in favor of reduction, and so may have deleterious consequences including overproduction of reduced glutathione and NADPH, the blunting of ROS-based signal transduction, epithelial cell hyperplasia, and failure of certain cell types to differentiate correctly. We discuss the basis of a putative U-shaped Nrf2 dose–response curve in terms of potentially competing processes relevant to different stages of tumorigenesis.
doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2015.06.021
PMCID: PMC4659505  PMID: 26122708
Nrf2; Keap1; β-TrCP; GSK-3; Reactive oxygen species; Inflammation; Nutrient supply; Lipid metabolism; Glutathione; Thioredoxin; Free radicals; aldo-keto reductase (AKR)
25.  Molecular Basis of Electrophilic and Oxidative Defense: Promises and Perils of Nrf2 
Pharmacological reviews  2012;64(4):1055-1081.
Induction of drug-metabolizing enzymes through the antioxidant response element (ARE)-dependent transcription was initially implicated in chemoprevention against cancer by antioxidants. Recent progress in understanding the biology and mechanism of induction revealed a critical role of induction in cellular defense against electrophilic and oxidative stress. Induction is mediated through a novel signaling pathway via two regulatory proteins, the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and the Kelch-like erythroid cell-derived protein with CNC homology-associated protein 1 (Keap1). Nrf2 binds to Keap1 at a two site-binding interface and is ubiquitinated by the Keap1/cullin 3/ring box protein-1-ubiquitin ligase, resulting in a rapid turnover of Nrf2 protein. Electrophiles and oxidants modify critical cysteine thiols of Keap1 and Nrf2 to inhibit Nrf2 ubiquitination, leading to Nrf2 activation and induction. Induction increases stress resistance critical for cell survival, because knockout of Nrf2 in mice increased susceptibility to a variety of toxicity and disease processes. Collateral to diverse functions of Nrf2, genome-wide search has led to the identification of a plethora of ARE-dependent genes regulated by Nrf2 in an inducer-, tissue-, and disease-dependent manner to control drug metabolism, antioxidant defense, stress response, proteasomal degradation, and cell proliferation. The protective nature of Nrf2 could also be hijacked in a number of pathological conditions by means of somatic mutation, epigenetic alteration, and accumulation of disruptor proteins, promoting drug resistance in cancer and pathologic liver features in autophagy deficiency. The repertoire of ARE inducers has expanded enormously; the therapeutic potential of the inducers has been examined beyond cancer prevention. Developing potent and specific ARE inducers and Nrf2 inhibitors holds certain new promise for the prevention and therapy against cancer, chronic disease, and toxicity.
doi:10.1124/pr.110.004333
PMCID: PMC4648289  PMID: 22966037

Results 1-25 (1549958)