Cinnamomum cassia bark is the outer skin of an evergreen tall tree belonging to the family Lauraceae containing several active components such as essential oils (cinnamic aldehyde and cinnamyl aldehyde), tannin, mucus and carbohydrate. They have various biological functions including anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammation, anti-diabetic and anti-tumor activity. Previously, we have reported that anti-cancer effect of cinnamon extracts is associated with modulation of angiogenesis and effector function of CD8+ T cells. In this study, we further identified that anti-tumor effect of cinnamon extracts is also link with enhanced pro-apoptotic activity by inhibiting the activities NFκB and AP1 in mouse melanoma model.
Water soluble cinnamon extract was obtained and quality of cinnamon extract was evaluated by HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) analysis. In this study, we tested anti-tumor activity and elucidated action mechanism of cinnamon extract using various types of tumor cell lines including lymphoma, melanoma, cervix cancer and colorectal cancer in vitro and in vivo mouse melanoma model.
Cinnamon extract strongly inhibited tumor cell proliferation in vitro and induced active cell death of tumor cells by up-regulating pro-apoptotic molecules while inhibiting NFκB and AP1 activity and their target genes such as Bcl-2, BcL-xL and survivin. Oral administration of cinnamon extract in melanoma transplantation model significantly inhibited tumor growth with the same mechanism of action observed in vitro.
Our study suggests that anti-tumor effect of cinnamon extracts is directly linked with enhanced pro-apoptotic activity and inhibition of NFκB and AP1 activities and their target genes in vitro and in vivo mouse melanoma model. Hence, further elucidation of active components of cinnamon extract could lead to development of potent anti-tumor agent or complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of diverse cancers.
The nematicidal activity of two cassia, Cinnamomum cassia, oils (Especial and true), four cinnamon, Cinnamomum zey-lanicum, oils (technical, #500, bark and green leaf), and their compounds (e.g., trans-cinnamaldehyde and trans-cinnamic acid) toward adult Bursaphelenchus xylophilus was examined by a direct contact bioassay. Results were compared with those of 34 related compounds. As judged by 24-hour LC50 values, two cassia oils (0.084–0.085 mg/ml) and four cinnamon oils (0.064–0.113 mg/ml) were toxic toward adult B. xylophilus. Of 45 test compounds, trans-cinnamaldehyde (0.061 mg/ml) was the most active nematicide, followed by ethyl cinnamate, α-methyl-trans-cinnamaldehyde, methyl cinnamate and allyl cinnamate (0.114–0.195 mg/ml). Potent nematicidal activity was also observed with 4-methoxycinnamonitrile, trans-4-methoxycinnamaldehyde, trans-2-methoxy-cinnamaldehyde, ethyl α-cyanocinnamate, cinnamonitrile and cinnamyl bromide (0.224–0.502 mg/ml). Structure-activity relationships indicate that structural characteristics, such as types of functional groups, saturation and carbon skeleton, appear to play a role in determining the toxicities to adult B. xylophilus. Cassia and cinnamon oils and test compounds described merit further study as potential nematicides or leads for the control of pine wilt disease caused by B. xylophilus.
Bursaphelenchus xylophilus; pine wood nematode; pine wilt disease; botanical nematicide; cassia oil; Cinnamomum cassia; cinnamon oil; Cinnamomum zeylanicum; cinnamaldehyde; structure-activity relationship
Redox dysregulation in cancer cells represents a chemical vulnerability that can be targeted by prooxidant redox intervention. Dietary constituents that contain an electrophilic Michael acceptor pharmacophore may therefore display promising chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic anti-cancer activity. Here, we demonstrate that the cinnamon-derived dietary Michael acceptor trans-cinnamic aldehyde (CA) impairs melanoma cell proliferation and tumor growth. Feasibility of therapeutic intervention using high doses of CA (120 mg/kg, p.o., q.d., 10 days) was demonstrated in a human A375 melanoma SCID-mouse xenograft model. Low micromolar concentrations (IC50 < 10 μM) of CA, but not closely related CA-derivatives devoid of Michael acceptor activity, suppressed proliferation of human metastatic melanoma cell lines (A375, G361, LOX) with G1 cell cycle arrest, elevated intracellular ROS, and impaired invasiveness. Expression array analysis revealed that CA induced an oxidative stress response in A375 cells, up-regulating heme oxygenase-1 (HMOX1), sulfiredoxin 1 homolog (SRXN1), thioredoxin reductase 1 (TXNRD1), and other genes including the cell cycle regulator and stress-responsive tumor suppressor gene cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1A (CDKN1A), a key mediator of G1 phase arrest. CA, but not Michael-inactive derivatives, inhibited NFκB transcriptional activity and TNFα-induced IL-8 production in A375 cells. These findings support a previously unrecognized role of CA as a dietary Michael acceptor with potential anticancer activity.
melanoma; oxidative stress; Michael acceptor; cinnamic aldehyde; NFκB; p21 (CDKN1A); xenograft
Modulation of the metabolism and disposition of carcinogens through induction of cytoprotective enzymes is one of several promising strategies to prevent cancer. Chemopreventive efficacies of inducers such as dithiolethiones and sulforaphane have been extensively studied in animals as well as in humans. The KEAP1-NRF2 system is a key, but not unilateral, molecular target for these chemopreventive agents. The transcription factor NRF2 (NF-E2-related factor 2) is a master regulator of the expression of a subset of genes, which produce proteins responsible for the detoxication of electrophiles and reactive oxygen species as well as the removal or repair of some of their damage products. It is believed that chemopreventive enzyme inducers affect the interaction between KEAP1 and NRF2 through either mediating conformational changes of the KEAP1 protein or activating phosphorylation cascades targeting the KEAP1-NRF2 complex. These events in turn affect NRF2 stability and trafficking. Recent advances elucidating the underlying structural biology of KEAP1-NRF2 signaling and identification of the gene clusters under the transcriptional control of NRF2 are facilitating understanding of the potential pleiotropic effects of NRF2 activators and discovery of novel classes of potent chemopreventive agents such as the triterpenoids. Although there is, appropriately a concern regarding a deleterious role of the KEAP1-NRF2 system in cancer cell biology, especially as the pathway affects cell survival and drug resistance, the development and the use of NRF2 activators as chemopreventive agents still holds a great promise for protection of normal cells from a diversity of environmental stresses that contribute to the burden of cancer and other chronic, degenerative diseases.
Chemoprevention; NRF2; KEAP1; phase 2 enzymes; antioxidant proteins; dithiolethiones; sulforaphane
NF-E2 related factor-2 (Nrf2) promotes the transcription of many cytoprotective genes and is a major drug target for prevention of cancer and other diseases. Indeed, the cancer-preventive activities of several well-known chemical agents were shown to depend on Nrf2 activation. It is well known that chemopreventive Nrf2 activators stabilize Nrf2 by blocking its ubiquitination, but previous studies have indicated that this process occurs exclusively in the cytoplasm. Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) binds to Nrf2 and orchestrates Nrf2 ubiquitination, and it has been a widely-held view that inhibition of Nrf2 ubiquitination by chemopreventive agents results from the dissociation of Nrf2 from its repressor Keap1. Here, we show that while the activation of Nrf2 by prototypical chemical activators, including 5,6-dihydrocyclopenta-1,2-dithiole-3-thione (CPDT) and sulforaphane (SF), results solely from inhibition of its ubiquitination, such inhibition occurs predominantly in the nucleus. Moreover, the Nrf2 activators promote Nrf2 association with Keap1, rather than disassociation, which appears to result from inhibition of Nrf2 phosphorylation at Ser40. Available evidence suggests the Nrf2 activators may block Nrf2 ubiquitination by altering Keap1 conformation via reaction with the thiols of specific Keap1 cysteines. We further show that while the inhibitory effects of CPDT and SF on Nrf2 ubiquitination depend entirely on Keap1, Nrf2 is also degraded by a Keap1-independent mechanism. These findings provide significant new insight about Nrf2 activation and suggest that exogenous chemical activators of Nrf2 enter the nucleus to exert most of their inhibitory impact on Nrf2 ubiquitination and degradation.
Loss of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) signaling increases susceptibility to acute toxicity, inflammation and carcinogenesis in mice due to the inability to mount adaptive responses. In contrast, disruption of Keap1 (a cytoplasmic modifier of Nrf2 turnover) protects against these stresses in mice, although inactivating mutations in Keap1 have been identified recently in some human cancers. Global characterization of Nrf2 activation is important to exploit this pathway for chemoprevention in healthy, yet at-risk individuals and also to elucidate the consequences of hijacking the pathway in Keap1-mutant human cancers. Liver-targeted conditional Keap1-null, Albumin-Cre:Keap1(flox/−) (CKO) mice provide a model of genetic activation of Nrf2 signaling. By coupling global gene expression analysis of CKO mice with analysis of pharmacologic activation using the synthetic oleanane triterpenoid 1-[2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oyl]imidazole (CDDO-Im), we are able to gain insight into pathways affected by Nrf2 activation. CDDO-Im is an extremely potent activator of Nrf2 signaling. CKO mice were used to identify genes modulated by genetic activation of Nrf2 signaling. The CKO response was compared with hepatic global gene expression changes in wild-type mice treated with CDDO-Im at a maximal Nrf2 activating dose. The results show that genetic and pharmacologic activation of Nrf2 signaling modulates pathways beyond detoxication and cytoprotection, with the largest cluster of genes associated with lipid metabolism. Genetic activation of Nrf2 results in much larger numbers of detoxication and lipid metabolism gene changes. Additionally, analysis of pharmacologic activation suggests that Nrf2 is the primary mediator of CDDO-Im activity, though other cell-signaling targets are also modulated following an oral dose of 30 μmol/kg.
Numerous epidemiological studies have linked consumption of cruciferous vegetables to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) in individuals. It is currently well accepted that chronic inflammation is a contributing factor in 15-20% malignancies including CRC. Many chemopreventive compounds are effective in preclinical systems and many on-going clinical trials are showing promising findings. Many of these compounds could activate the antioxidant responsive element (ARE), a critical regulatory element for phase II protective/detoxification and anti-oxidative stress enzymes mediated by nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). Recently, Nrf2 has emerged as a novel target for the prevention of CRC.
A full literature search was performed using PubMed with the key words ‘ARE, Nrf2, colon, colorectal cancer, chemoprevention, cancer prevention’, and all relevant publications are included.
The use of Nrf2 knockout mice has provided key insights into the toxicological and chemopreventive importance of this pathway. Mounting evidence has revealed that Nrf2 is a critical regulator of inflammation as well, a major driving force for CRC progression and formation. Targeting the Nrf2/ARE pathway may present a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of not only colorectal inflammatory diseases but the frequent subsequent development of CRC as well.
Antioxidant responsive element (ARE); colorectal cancer (CRC); inflammation; Keap 1; Nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2); oxidative stress; phase II enzymes
Cinnamon, which is the bark of the Cinnamomum zeylanicum tree, contains cinnamic aldehyde, which is an irritant. Workers processing cinnamon before export are exposed to much cinnamon dust. Forty such workers with an average of four years' service in the industry were examined. Thirty five workers (87.5%) had symptoms, nine having had asthma (22.5%). Other symptoms, probably related to the irritant nature of cinnamon dust, were irritation of skin (50%), loss of hair (37.5%), and smarting of eyes while at work (22.5%). Loss of weight (65%) was the commonest finding. Contact dermatitis which has previously been described was not found in any of the workers.
A common feature of diverse chemopreventive agents is the ability to activate expression of a genetic program that protects cells from reactive chemical species that, if left unchecked, would cause mutagenic DNA damage. The bZIP transcription factor Nrf2 has emerged as a key regulator of this cancer-preventive genetic program. Nrf2 is normally sequestered in the cytoplasm by a protein known as Keap1. Chemopreventive agents allow Nrf2 to escape from Keap1-mediated repression, although the molecular mechanism(s) responsible for activation of Nrf2 is not understood. In this report, we demonstrate that Keap1 does not passively sequester Nrf2 in the cytoplasm but actively targets Nrf2 for ubiquitination and degradation by the proteosome under basal culture conditions. We have identified two critical cysteine residues in Keap1, C273 and C288, that are required for Keap1-dependent ubiquitination of Nrf2. Both sulforaphane, a chemopreventive isothiocyanate, and oxidative stress enable Nrf2 to escape Keap1-dependent degradation, leading to stabilization of Nrf2, increased nuclear localization of Nrf2, and activation of Nrf2-dependent cancer-protective genes. We have identified a third cysteine residue in Keap1, C151, that is uniquely required for inhibition of Keap1-dependent degradation of Nrf2 by sulforaphane and oxidative stress. This cysteine residue is also required for a novel posttranslational modification to Keap1 that is induced by oxidative stress. We propose that Keap1 is a component of a novel E3 ubiquitin ligase complex that is specifically targeted for inhibition by both chemopreventive agents and oxidative stress.
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.
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.
Nrf2; chemoresistance; and endometrial cancer
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.
Nrf2 (NF-E2-related factor 2) is a master transcription factor containing a powerful acidic transcriptional activation domain. Nrf2-dependent gene expression impacts cancer chemoprevention strategies, inflammatory responses, and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Under basal conditions, association of Nrf2 with the CUL3 adaptor protein Keap1 results in the rapid Nrf2 ubiquitylation and proteasome-dependent degradation. Inhibition of Keap1 function blocks ubiquitylation of Nrf2, allowing newly synthesized Nrf2 to translocate into the nucleus, bind to ARE sites and direct target gene expression. Site-directed mutagenesis experiments coupled with proteomic analysis support a model in which Keap1 contains at least 2 distinct cysteine motifs. The first is located at Cys 151 in the BTB domain. The second is located in the intervening domain and centers around Cys 273 & 288. Adduction or oxidation at Cys151 has been shown to produce a conformational change in Keap1 that results in dissociation of Keap1 from CUL3, thereby inhibiting Nrf2 ubiquitylation. Thus, adduction captures specific chemical information and translates it into biochemical information via changes in structural conformation.
The Keap1-Nrf2 pathway has been reported to be impaired in several cancers. However, the status of Keap1-Nrf2 system in human colorectal cancer (CRC) has not been elucidated.
We used colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines and surgical specimens to investigate the methylation status of the KEAP1 promoter region as well as expression of Nrf2 and its downstream antioxidative stress genes, NQO-1 and AKR1C1.
DNA sequencing analysis indicated that all mutations detected were synonymous, with no amino acid substitutions. We showed by bisulfite genomic sequencing and methylation-specific PCR that eight of 10 CRC cell lines had hypermethylated CpG islands in the KEAP1 promoter region. HT29 cells with a hypermethylated KEAP1 promoter resulted in decreased mRNA and protein expression but unmethylated Colo320DM cells showed higher expression levels. In addition, treatment with the DNA methyltransferase inhibitor 5-Aza-dC combined with the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) increased KEAP1 mRNA expression. These result suggested that methylation of the KEAP1 promoter regulates its mRNA level. Time course analysis with the Nrf2-antioxidant response element (ARE) pathway activator t-BHQ treatment showed a rapid response within 24 h. HT29 cells had higher basal expression levels of NQO-1 and AKR1C1 mRNA than Colo320DM cells. Aberrant promoter methylation of KEAP1 was detected in 53% of tumor tissues and 25% of normal mucosae from 40 surgical CRC specimens, indicating that cancerous tissue showed increased methylation of the KEAP1 promoter region, conferring a protective effect against cytotoxic anticancer drugs.
Hypermethylation of the KEAP1 promoter region suppressed its mRNA expression and increased nuclear Nrf2 and downstream ARE gene expression in CRC cells and tissues.
Upregulation of cytoprotective enzymes by therapeutic agents to prevent damage by reactive oxygen species and xenobiotic electrophiles is a strategy for cancer chemoprevention. The Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) and its binding partner, transcription factor NF-E2-related factor-2 (Nrf2), are chemoprevention targets because of their role in regulating the antioxidant response element (ARE) in response to oxidative stress and exposure to electrophiles. Modification of the sensor protein Keap1 by electrophiles such as the isothiocyanate sulforaphane can direct Nrf2 accumulation in the nucleus and subsequent ARE activation. Since our previous matrix-assisted laser desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS)-based screening method to discover natural products that modify Keap1 does not detect covalent modification of Keap1 by some highly reversible agents such as sulforaphane, a more sensitive screening assay was developed. In this new assay, electrophiles that have reversibly modified Keap1 can be released, trapped and detected as β-mercaptoethanol adducts by mass spectrometry. Isoliquiritigenin and sulforaphane, known ARE activators that target Keap1, were used to validate the assay. To determine the ability of the assay to identify electrophiles in complex matrixes that modify Keap1, sulforaphane was spiked into a cocoa extract, and LC-MS/MS using high resolution mass spectrometry with accurate mass measurement was used to identify β-mercaptoethanol adducts of sulforaphane that had been released from Keap1. This screening assay permits identification of potential chemoprevention agents in complex natural product mixtures that reversibly modify Keap1 but cannot be detected using MALDI-TOF MS.
To determine whether dietary compounds targeting NFE2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) activation can be used to attenuate renal damage and preserve renal function during the course of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic nephropathy.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Diabetes was induced in Nrf2+/+ and Nrf2−/− mice by STZ injection. Sulforaphane (SF) or cinnamic aldehyde (CA) was administered 2 weeks after STZ injection and metabolic indices and renal structure and function were assessed (18 weeks). Markers of diabetes including blood glucose, insulin, polydipsia, polyuria, and weight loss were measured. Pathological alterations and oxidative damage in glomeruli were also determined. Changes in protein expression of the Nrf2 pathway, as well as transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), fibronectin (FN), collagen IV, and p21/WAF1Cip1 (p21) were analyzed. The molecular mechanisms of Nrf2-mediated protection were investigated in an in vitro model using human renal mesangial cells (HRMCs).
SF or CA significantly attenuated common metabolic disorder symptoms associated with diabetes in Nrf2+/+ but not in Nrf2−/− mice, indicating SF and CA function through specific activation of the Nrf2 pathway. Furthermore, SF or CA improved renal performance and minimized pathological alterations in the glomerulus of STZ-Nrf2+/+ mice. Nrf2 activation reduced oxidative damage and suppressed the expression of TGF-β1, extracellular matrix proteins and p21 both in vivo and in HRMCs. In addition, Nrf2 activation reverted p21-mediated growth inhibition and hypertrophy of HRMCs under hyperglycemic conditions.
We provide experimental evidence indicating that dietary compounds targeting Nrf2 activation can be used therapeutically to improve metabolic disorder and relieve renal damage induced by diabetes.
In Drosophila, intestinal stem cells (ISCs) respond to oxidative challenges and inflammation by increasing proliferation rates. This phenotype is part of a regenerative response, but can lead to hyperproliferation and epithelial degeneration in the aging animal. Here we show that Nrf2, a master regulator of the cellular redox state, specifically controls the proliferative activity of ISCs, promoting intestinal homeostasis. We find that Nrf2 is constitutively active in ISCs, and that repression of Nrf2 by its negative regulator Keap1 is required for ISC proliferation. We further show that Nrf2 and Keap1 exert this function in ISCs by regulating the intracellular redox balance. Accordingly, loss of Nrf2 in ISCs causes accumulation of reactive oxygen species and accelerates age-related degeneration of the intestinal epithelium. Our findings establish Keap1 and Nrf2 as a critical redox management system that regulates stem cell function in high-turnover tissues.
The Keap1–Nrf2 [Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1–nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2] pathway plays a central role in the protection of cells against oxidative and xenobiotic stresses. Nrf2 is a potent transcription activator that recognizes a unique DNA sequence known as the antioxidant response element (ARE). Under normal conditions, Nrf2 binds to Keap1 in the cytoplasm, resulting in proteasomal degradation. Following exposure to electrophiles or reactive oxygen species, Nrf2 becomes stabilized, translocates into the nucleus, and activates the transcription of various cytoprotective genes. Increasing attention has been paid to the role of Nrf2 in cancer cells because the constitutive stabilization of Nrf2 has been observed in many human cancers with poor prognosis. Recent studies have shown that the antioxidant and detoxification activities of Nrf2 confer chemo- and radio-resistance to cancer cells. In this review, we provide an overview of the Keap1–Nrf2 system and discuss its role under physiological and pathological conditions, including cancers. We also introduce the results of our recent study describing Nrf2 function in the metabolism of cancer cells. Nrf2 likely confers a growth advantage to cancer cells through enhancing cytoprotection and anabolism. Finally, we discuss the possible impact of Nrf2 inhibitors on cancer therapy.
stress response; redox homeostasis; transcription; purine nucleotide; glutathione
Sulforaphane (SFN), an activator of nuclear factor erythroid-2 related factor 2 (Nrf2), is a promising chemopreventive agent which is undergoing clinical trial for several diseases. Studies have indicated that there is gain of Nrf2 function in lung cancer and other solid tumors because of mutations in the inhibitor Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1). More recently, several oncogenes have been shown to activate Nrf2 signaling as the main prosurvival pathway mediating ROS detoxification, senescence evasion, and neoplastic transformation. Thus, it is important to determine if there is any risk of enhanced lung tumorigenesis associated with prolonged administration of SFN using mouse models of cancer.
Materials and Methods:
We evaluated the effect of prolonged SFN treatment on oncogenic K-ras (K-rasLSL-G12D)-driven lung tumorigenesis. One week post mutant-K-ras expression, mice were treated with SFN (0.5 mg, 5 d/wk) for 3 months by means of a nebulizer. Fourteen weeks after mutant K-ras expression (K-rasLSL-G12D), mice were sacrificed, and lung sections were screened for neoplastic foci. Expression of Nrf2-dependent genes was measured using real time RT-PCR. We also determined the effect of prolonged SFN treatment on the growth of preclinical xenograft models using human A549 (with mutant K-ras and Keap1 allele) and H1975 [with mutant epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) allele] nonsmall cell lung cancer cells.
Systemic SFN administration did not promote the growth of K-rasLSL-G12D-induced lung tumors and had no significant effect on the growth of A549 and H1975 established tumor xenografts in nude mice. Interestingly, localized delivery of SFN significantly attenuated the growth of A549 tumors in nude mice, suggesting an Nrf2-independent antitumorigenic activity of SFN.
Our results demonstrate that prolonged SFN treatment does not promote lung tumorigenesis in various mouse models of lung cancer.
EGFR; Keap1; K-ras; lung cancer; Nrf2; sulforaphane
Nrf2-mediated activation of antioxidant response element is a central part of molecular mechanisms governing the protective function of phase II detoxification and antioxidant enzymes against carcinogenesis, oxidative stress and inflammation. Nrf2 is sequestered in the cytoplasm by its repressor, Keap1. We have designed and synthesized novel chalcone derivatives as Nrf2 activators. The potency of these compounds was measured by the expression of Nrf2 dependent antioxidant genes, GCLM, NQO1 and HO1, in human lung epithelial cells; while the cytotoxicity was analyzed using MTT assay. In vivo potency of identified lead compounds to activate Nrf2 was evaluated using mouse model. Our studies showed 2-trifluoromethyl-2’-methoxychalone (2b) to be a potent activator of Nrf2, both, in vitro and in mice. Additional experiments showed that the activation of Nrf2 by this compound is independent of reactive oxygen species or redox changes. We have discussed a quantitative structure-activity relationship and proposed a possible mechanism of Nrf2 activation.
The transcription factor Nrf2 regulates cellular redox homeostasis. Under basal conditions, Keap1 recruits Nrf2 into the Cul3-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase complex for ubiquitin conjugation and subsequent proteasomal degradation. Oxidative stress triggers activation of Nrf2 through inhibition of E3 ubiquitin ligase activity, resulting in increased levels of Nrf2 and transcriptional activation of Nrf2-dependent genes. In this study, we identify Keap1 as a key postinduction repressor of Nrf2 and demonstrate that a nuclear export sequence (NES) in Keap1 is required for termination of Nrf2-antioxidant response element (ARE) signaling by escorting nuclear export of Nrf2. We provide evidence that ubiquitination of Nrf2 is carried out in the cytosol. Furthermore, we show that Keap1 nuclear translocation is independent of Nrf2 and the Nrf2-Keap1 complex does not bind the ARE. Collectively, our results suggest the following mechanism of postinduction repression: upon recovery of cellular redox homeostasis, Keap1 translocates into the nucleus to dissociate Nrf2 from the ARE. The Nrf2-Keap1 complex is then transported out of the nucleus by the NES in Keap1. Once in the cytoplasm, the Keap1-Nrf2 complex associates with the E3 ubiquitin ligase, resulting in degradation of Nrf2 and termination of the Nrf2 signaling pathway. Hence, postinduction repression of the Nrf2-mediated antioxidant response is controlled by the nuclear export function of Keap1 in alliance with the cytoplasmic ubiquitination and degradation machinery.
Recent evidence suggests that several dietary polyphenols may exert their chemopreventive effect through epigenetic modifications. Curcumin is one of the most widely studied dietary chemopreventive agents for colon cancer prevention, however, its effects on epigenetic alterations, particularly DNA methylation, remain unclear. Using systematic genome-wide approaches, we aimed to elucidate the effect of curcumin on DNA methylation alterations in colorectal cancer cells.
Materials and Methods
To evaluate the effect of curcumin on DNA methylation, three CRC cell lines, HCT116, HT29 and RKO, were treated with curcumin. 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-aza-CdR) and trichostatin A treated cells were used as positive and negative controls for DNA methylation changes, respectively. Methylation status of LINE-1 repeat elements, DNA promoter methylation microarrays and gene expression arrays were used to assess global methylation and gene expression changes. Validation was performed using independent microarrays, quantitative bisulfite pyrosequencing, and qPCR.
As expected, genome-wide methylation microarrays revealed significant DNA hypomethylation in 5-aza-CdR-treated cells (mean β-values of 0.12), however, non-significant changes in mean β-values were observed in curcumin-treated cells. In comparison to mock-treated cells, curcumin-induced DNA methylation alterations occurred in a time-dependent manner. In contrast to the generalized, non-specific global hypomethylation observed with 5-aza-CdR, curcumin treatment resulted in methylation changes at selected, partially-methylated loci, instead of fully-methylated CpG sites. DNA methylation alterations were supported by corresponding changes in gene expression at both up- and down-regulated genes in various CRC cell lines.
Our data provide previously unrecognized evidence for curcumin-mediated DNA methylation alterations as a potential mechanism of colon cancer chemoprevention. In contrast to non-specific global hypomethylation induced by 5-aza-CdR, curcumin-induced methylation changes occurred only in a subset of partially-methylated genes, which provides additional mechanistic insights into the potent chemopreventive effect of this dietary nutraceutical.
Nrf2 is a major cytoprotective gene and is a key chemopreventive target against cancer and other diseases. Here we show that Nrf2 faces a dilemma in defense against 4-aminobiphenyl (ABP), a major human bladder carcinogen from tobacco smoke and other environmental sources. While Nrf2 protected mouse liver against ABP (which is metabolically activated in liver), the bladder level of N-(deoxyguanosin-8-yl)-4-aminobiphenyl (dG-C8-ABP), the predominant ABP-DNA adduct formed in bladder cells and tissues, was markedly higher in Nrf2+/+ mice than in Nrf2−/− mice after ABP exposure. Notably, Nrf2 protected bladder cells against ABP in vitro. Mechanistic investigations showed that the dichotomous effects of Nrf2 could be explained at least partly by upregulation of UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT). Nrf2 promoted conjugation of ABP with glucuronic acid in the liver, increasing urinary excretion of the conjugate. While glucuronidation of ABP and its metabolites is a detoxification process, these conjugates, which are excreted in urine, are known to be unstable in acidic urine, leading to delivery of the parent compounds to bladder. Hence, while higher liver UGT activity may protect the liver against ABP it increases bladder exposure to ABP. These findings raise concerns of potential bladder toxicity when Nrf2-activating chemopreventive agents are used in humans exposed to ABP, especially in smokers. We further demonstrate that 5,6-dihydrocyclopenta[c][1,2]-dithiole-3(4H)-thione (CPDT) significantly inhibits dG-C8-ABP formation in bladder cells and tissues, but does not appear to significantly modulate ABP-catalyzing UGT in liver. Thus, CPDT exemplifies a counteracting solution to the dilemma posed by Nrf2.
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.
Chemoprevention, which includes the use of synthetic or natural agents (alone or in combination) to block the development of cancer in human beings, is an extremely promising strategy for cancer prevention. Cinnamon is one of the most widely used herbal medicines with diverse biological activities including anti-tumor activity. In the present study, we have reported the anti-neoplastic activity of cinnamon in cervical cancer cell line, SiHa.
The aqueous cinnamon extract (ACE-c) was analyzed for its cinnamaldehyde content by HPTLC analysis. The polyphenol content of ACE-c was measured by Folin-Ciocalteau method. Cytotoxicity analysis was performed by MTT assay. We studied the effect of cinnamon on growth kinetics by performing growth curve, colony formation and soft agar assays. The cells treated with ACE-c were analyzed for wound healing assay as well as for matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) expression at mRNA and protein level by RT-PCR and zymography, respectively. Her-2 protein expression was analyzed in the control and ACE-c treated samples by immunoblotting as well as confocal microscopy. Apoptosis studies and calcium signaling assays were analyzed by FACS. Loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) in cinnamon treated cells was studied by JC-1 staining and analyzed by confocal microscopy as well as FACS.
Cinnamon alters the growth kinetics of SiHa cells in a dose-dependent manner. Cells treated with ACE-c exhibited reduced number of colonies compared to the control cells. The treated cells exhibited reduced migration potential that could be explained due to downregulation of MMP-2 expression. Interestingly, the expression of Her-2 oncoprotein was significantly reduced in the presence of ACE-c. Cinnamon extract induced apoptosis in the cervical cancer cells through increase in intracellular calcium signaling as well as loss of mitochondrial membrane potential.
Cinnamon could be used as a potent chemopreventive drug in cervical cancer.