Nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) has emerged as a novel target for the prevention of colorectal cancer (CRC). Many chemopreventive compounds associated with Nrf2 activation are effective in preclinical systems and many on-going clinical trials are showing promising findings. In present study we evaluated the cytoprotective effect and chemopreventive properties of dietary digitoflavone.
A cell based Antioxidant Response Element (ARE)-driven luciferase reporter system was applied to screen potential Nrf2 activators. Activation of Nrf2 by digitoflavone was confirmed through mRNA, protein and GSH level assay in Caco-2 cell line. The cytoprotective effect of digitoflavone was evaluated in H2O2-induced oxidative stress model and further signaling pathways analysis was used to determine the target of digitoflavone induced Nrf2 activation. An AOM-DSS induced colorectal cancer model was used to assess the chemopreventive effect of digitoflavone.
Micromolarity (10 μM) level of digitoflavone increased Nrf2 expressing, nuclear translocation and expression of downstream phase II antioxidant enzymes. Furthermore, digitoflavone decreased H2O2-induced oxidative stress and cell death via p38 MAPK-Nrf2/ARE pathway. In vivo study, 50 mg/kg digitoflavone significantly reduced AOM-DSS induced tumor incidence, number and size.
These observations suggest that digitoflavone is a novel Nrf2 pathway activator, and protects against oxidative stress-induced cell injury. The results of the present study add further evidence of the molecular mechanisms that allow digitoflavone to exert protective effects and reaffirm its potential role as a chemopreventive agent in colorectal carcinogenesis.
Digitoflavone; Luteolin; Reactive oxygen species (ROS); Nrf2; p38 MAPK; Chemoprevention
Strong experimental evidence suggests the involvement of photo-oxidative stress mediated by reactive oxygen species as a crucial mechanism of solar damage relevant to human skin photoaging and photocarcinogenesis. Based on the established role of antioxidant response element (ARE)-mediated gene expression in cancer chemoprevention, we tested the hypothesis that small molecule Nrf2-activators may serve a photo-chemopreventive role by targeting skin cell photo-oxidative stress. A luciferase-based reporter gene assay was used as a primary screen for the identification of novel agents that modulate the Nrf2-Keap1 signaling pathway. A series of cinnamoyl-based electrophilic Michael acceptors including cinnamic aldehyde and methyl-1-cinnamoyl-5-oxo-2-pyrrolidine-carboxylate was identified as potent Nrf2-activators. Hit confirmation was performed in a secondary screen, based on immunodetection of Nrf2 protein upregulation in human Hs27 skin fibroblasts, HaCaT keratinocytes, and primary skin keratinocytes. Bioefficacy profiling of positive test compounds in skin cells demonstrated compound-induced upregulation of hemeoxygenase I and NAD(P)H-quinone oxidoreductase, two Nrf2 target genes involved in the cellular antioxidant response. Pretreatment with cinnamoyl-based Nrf2-activators suppressed intracellular oxidative stress and protected against photo-oxidative induction of apoptosis in skin cells exposed to high doses of singlet oxygen. Our pilot studies suggest feasibility of developing cinnamoyl-based Nrf2-activators as novel photo-chemopreventive agents targeting skin cell photo-oxidative stress.
Nrf2; skin cancer; photo-oxidative stress; photo-chemoprevention; Michael acceptor; cinnamic aldehyde; singlet oxygen
Therapeutic resistance remains the most challenging aspect of treating cancer. Raf kinase inhibitory protein (RKIP) emerged as a molecule capable of sensitizing cancerous cells to radio- and chemotherapy. Moreover, this small evolutionary conserved molecule, endows significant resistance to cancer therapy when its expression is reduced or lost. RKIP has been shown to inhibit the Raf-MEK-ERK, NFκB, GRK and activate the GSK3β signaling pathways. Inhibition of Raf-MEK-ERK and NFκB remains the most prominent pathways implicated in the sensitization of cells to therapeutic drugs. Our purpose was to identify a possible link between RKIP-KEAP 1-NRF2 and drug resistance. To that end, RKIP-KEAP 1 association was tested in human colorectal cancer tissues using immunohistochemistry. RKIP miRNA silencing and its inducible overexpression were employed in HEK-293 immortalized cells, HT29 and HCT116 colon cancer cell lines to further investigate our aim. We show that RKIP enhanced Kelch-like ECH-associated protein1 (KEAP 1) stability in colorectal cancer tissues and HT29 CRC cell line. RKIP silencing in immortalized HEK-293 cells (termed HEK-499) correlated significantly with KEAP 1 protein degradation and subsequent NRF2 addiction in these cells. Moreover, RKIP depletion in HEK-499, compared to control cells, bestowed resistance to supra physiological levels of H2O2 and Cisplatin possibly by upregulating NF-E2-related nuclear factor 2 (NRF2) responsive genes. Similarly, we observed a direct correlation between the extent of apoptosis, after treatment with Adriamycin, and the expression levels of RKIP/KEAP 1 in HT29 but not in HCT116 CRC cells. Our data illuminate, for the first time, the NRF2-KEAP 1 pathway as a possible target for personalized therapeutic intervention in RKIP depleted cancers.
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.
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
5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) is a widely used anticancer drug for the treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, resistance to 5-FU often prevents the success of chemotherapy. Nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a transcriptional regulator and a possible target to overcome 5-FU resistance. The present study examined epigenetic changes associated with Nrf2 induction in a human CRC cell line (SNUC5) resistant to 5-FU (SNUC5/5-FUR). Nrf2 expression, nuclear translocation, and binding to promoter were higher in SNUC5/5-FUR cells than in SNUC5 cells. The activated Nrf2 in SNUC5/5-FUR cells led to an increase in the protein expression and activity of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), an Nrf2-regulated gene. SNUC5/5-FUR cells produced a larger amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) than SNUC5 cells. The siRNA- or shRNA-mediated knockdown of Nrf2 or HO-1 significantly suppressed cancer cell viability and tumor growth in vitro and in vivo, resulting in enhanced 5-FU sensitivity. Methylation-specific (MS) or real-time quantitative MS-PCR data showed hypomethylation of the Nrf2 promoter CpG islands in SNUC5/5-FUR cells compared with SNUC5 cells. Expression of the DNA demethylase ten-eleven translocation (TET) was upregulated in SNUC5/5-FUR cells. ROS generated by 5-FU upregulated TET1 expression and function, whereas antioxidant had the opposite effect. These results suggested that the mechanism underlying the acquisition of 5-FU resistance in CRC involves the upregulation of Nrf2 and HO-1 expression via epigenetic modifications of DNA demethylation.
colon cancer cells; 5-fluorouracil resistance; epigenetic modification; DNA demethylase; Nrf2; oxidative stress
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.
Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2; encoded in humans by the NFE2L2 gene) is a transcription factor that regulates the gene expression of a wide variety of cytoprotective phase II detoxification and antioxidant enzymes through a promoter sequence known as the antioxidant-responsive element (ARE). The ARE is a promoter element found in many cytoprotective genes; therefore, Nrf2 plays a pivotal role in the ARE-driven cellular defense system against environmental stresses. Agents that target the ARE/Nrf2 pathway have been tested in a wide variety of disorders, with at least one new Nrf2-activating drug now approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Examination of in vitro and in vivo experimental results, and taking into account recent human clinical trial results, has led to an opinion that Nrf2-activating strategies – which can include drugs, foods, dietary supplements, and exercise – are likely best targeted at disease prevention, disease recurrence prevention, or slowing of disease progression in early stage illnesses; they may also be useful as an interventional strategy. However, this rubric may be viewed even more conservatively in the pathophysiology of cancer. The activation of the Nrf2 pathway has been widely accepted as offering chemoprevention benefit, but it may be unhelpful or even harmful in the setting of established cancers. For example, Nrf2 activation might interfere with chemotherapies or radiotherapies or otherwise give tumor cells additional growth and survival advantages, unless they already possess mutations that fully activate their Nrf2 pathway constitutively. With all this in mind, the ARE/Nrf2 pathway remains of great interest as a possible target for the pharmacological control of degenerative and immunological diseases, both by activation and by inhibition, and its regulation remains a promising biological target for the development of new therapies.
Nrf2; detoxification; antioxidant
Background: Nuclear factor E2-related factors (NRFs), including NRF2 and NRF1, play critical roles in mediating the cellular adaptive response to oxidative stress. Human exposure to inorganic arsenic, a potent oxidative stressor, causes various dermal disorders, including hyperkeratosis and skin cancer.
Objective: We investigated the cross-regulations among NRF2, NRF1, and KEAP1, a cullin-3–adapter protein that allows NRF2 to be ubiquinated and degraded by the proteasome complex, in arsenic-induced antioxidant responses.
Results: In human keratinocyte HaCaT cells, selective knockdown (KD) of NRF2 by lentiviral short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) significantly reduced the expression of many antioxidant enzymes and sensitized the cells to acute cytotoxicity of inorganic arsenite (iAs3+). In contrast, silencing KEAP1 led to a dramatic resistance to iAs3+-induced apoptosis. Pretreatment of HaCaT cells with NRF2 activators, such as tert-butylhydroquinone, protects the cells against acute iAs3+ toxicity in an NRF2-dependent fashion. Consistent with the negative regulatory role of KEAP1 in NRF2 activation, KEAP1-KD cells exhibited enhanced transcriptional activity of NRF2 under nonstressed conditions. However, deficiency in KEAP1 did not facilitate induction of NRF2-target genes by iAs3+. In addition, NRF2 silencing reduced the expression of KEAP1 at transcription and protein levels but increased the protein expression of NRF1 under the iAs3+-exposed condition. In contrast, silencing KEAP1 augmented protein accumulation of NRF2 under basal and iAs3+-exposed conditions, whereas the iAs3+-induced protein accumulation of NRF1 was attenuated in KEAP1-KD cells.
Conclusions: Our studies suggest that NRF2, KEAP1, and NRF1 are coordinately involved in the regulation of the cellular adaptive response to iAs3+-induced oxidative stress.
antioxidant response; arsenic; cytotoxicity; KEAP1; keratinocyte; NRF1; NRF2
Reactive oxygen species can induce premature senescence. Caveolin-1 promotes oxidative stress–induced activation of the p53/p21Waf1/Cip1 pathway and development of premature senescence by acting as an endogenous inhibitor of the transcription factor Nrf2.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) can induce premature cellular senescence, which is believed to contribute to aging and age-related diseases. The nuclear erythroid 2 p45–related factor-2 (Nrf2) is a transcription factor that mediates cytoprotective responses against stress. We demonstrate that caveolin-1 is a direct binding partner of Nrf2, as shown by the binding of the scaffolding domain of caveolin-1 (amino acids 82–101) to the caveolin-binding domain of Nrf2 (amino acids 281–289). Biochemical studies show that Nrf2 is concentrated into caveolar membranes in human and mouse fibroblasts, where it colocalizes with caveolin-1, under resting conditions. After oxidative stress, caveolin-1 limits the movement of Nrf2 from caveolar membranes to the nucleus. In contrast, Nrf2 is constitutively localized to the nucleus before and after oxidative stress in caveolin-1–null mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), which do not express caveolin-1. Functional studies demonstrate that caveolin-1 acts as an endogenous inhibitor of Nrf2, as shown by the enhanced up-regulation of NQO1, an Nrf2 target gene, in caveolin-1–null MEFs and the activation or inhibition of a luciferase construct carrying an antioxidant responsive element (ARE) after down-regulation of caveolin-1 by small interfering RNA or overexpression of caveolin-1, respectively. Expression of a mutant form of Nrf2 that cannot bind to caveolin-1 (Φ→A-Nrf2) hyperactivates ARE and inhibits oxidative stress–induced activation of the p53/p21Waf1/Cip1 pathway and induction of premature senescence in fibroblasts. Finally, we show that overexpression of caveolin-1 in colon cancer cells inhibits oxidant-induced activation of Nrf2-dependent signaling, promotes premature senescence, and inhibits their transformed phenotype. Thus, by inhibiting Nrf2-mediated signaling, caveolin-1 links free radicals to the activation of the p53/senescence pathway.
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.
Nrf2; NF-κB; DSS; AOM; apoptosis
BACKGROUND: The induction of phase 2 enzymes by dithiolethiones such as oltipraz is an effective means for achieving protection against environmental carcinogens in animals and humans. Transcriptional control of the expression of at least some of these protective enzymes is mediated through the antioxidant response element (ARE) found in the upstream regulatory region of many phase 2 genes. The transcription factor Nrf2, which binds to the ARE, appears to be essential for the induction of proto-typical phase 2 enzymes such as glutathione S-transferase (GST) Ya, Yp, and NAD(P)H: quinone reductase (NQO1) in vivo. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In the present study, 3H-1,2-dithiole-3-thione (D3T) was used as a potent model inducer whose effects on gene expression and chemopreventive efficacy have been extensively characterized in the rat. Over a dozen putative D3T-inducible genes were examined in wild-type and nrf2-disrupted mice by Northern blot hybridization and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis to elucidate whether loss of Nrf2 function also affects the induction of a broader representation of phase 2 and antioxidative enzymes. The effects of D3T on hepatic Nrf2 expression and localization were also examined in vivo by Northern blot hybridization, electromobility shift assay, and Western blot analysis. RESULTS: Specific activities of hepatic GST and NQO1 were increased by D3T in wild-type mice and were largely blunted in the nrf2-deficient mice. However, changes in levels of RNA transcripts following D3T treatment of nrf2-disrupted mice were multidirectional, dependent upon the particular gene examined. Although elevation of mRNAs for GST Ya, NQO1, microsomal epoxide hydrolase and gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase regulatory chain were blocked in the mutant mice, elevation of GST Yp mRNA was largely unimpeded. Increases in levels of mRNA for the heavy and light chains of ferritin were only seen in the nrf2-disrupted mice. Transcript levels of UDP-glucuronyl-transferase 1A6, heme oxygenase-1, maganese superoxide dismutase, which were inducible in the wild-type mice, actually decreased in the mutant mice, whereas levels of mRNA for GST Yc, aflatoxin B1 aldehyde reductase and catalase decreased following D3T treatment in the mutant mice in the absence of any inductive effect by D3T in the wild-type mice. In wild-type mice, treatment with D3T lead to 3-fold increases in hepatic Nrf2 mRNA levels within several hours following dosing as assessed by Northern blot and RT-PCR analyses. Gel shift analyses with oligonucleotide probes for human NQO1 ARE, murine GST Ya ARE, and erythroid transcription factor (NF-E2) binding site showed increased intensity of binding with nuclear extracts prepared from livers of D3T-treated mice compared to vehicle-treated controls. Antibody to Nrf2 supershifted the DNA binding bands of these nuclear extracts. Moreover, immunoblot analysis indicated accumulation of Nrf2 in extracts prepared from hepatic nuclei of D3T-treated mice at the same time points. CONCLUSIONS: Nrf2 plays a central role in the regulation of constitutive and inducible expression of multiple phase 2 and antioxidative enzymes by chemoprotective dithiolethiones in vivo, although patterns of response vary among different genes. Knowledge of the factors controlling the specificity of actions of enzyme inducers will be exceedingly helpful in the design and isolation of more efficient and selective chemoprotective agents.
Influenza A virus (IAV) infection primarily targets respiratory epithelial cells and produces clinical outcomes ranging from mild upper respiratory infection to severe pneumonia. Recent studies have shown the importance of lung antioxidant defense systems against injury by IAV. Nuclear factor-erythroid 2 related factor 2 (Nrf2) activates the majority of antioxidant genes.
Alveolar type II (ATII) cells and alveolar macrophages (AM) were isolated from human lungs not suitable for transplantation and donated for medical research. In some studies ATII cells were transdifferentiated to alveolar type I-like (ATI-like) cells. Alveolar epithelial cells were infected with A/PR/8/34 (PR8) virus. We analyzed PR8 virus production, influenza A nucleoprotein levels, ROS generation and expression of antiviral genes. Immunocytofluorescence was used to determine Nrf2 translocation and western blotting to detect Nrf2, HO-1 and caspase 1 and 3 cleavage. We also analyzed ingestion of PR8 virus infected apoptotic ATII cells by AM, cytokine levels by ELISA, glutathione levels, necrosis and apoptosis by TUNEL assay. Moreover, we determined the critical importance of Nrf2 using adenovirus Nrf2 (AdNrf2) or Nrf2 siRNA to overexpress or knockdown Nrf2, respectively.
We found that IAV induced oxidative stress, cytotoxicity and apoptosis in ATI-like and ATII cells. We also found that AM can ingest PR8 virus-induced apoptotic ATII cells (efferocytosis) but not viable cells, whereas ATII cells did not ingest these apoptotic cells. PR8 virus increased ROS production, Nrf2, HO-1, Mx1 and OAS1 expression and Nrf2 translocation to the nucleus. Nrf2 knockdown with siRNA sensitized ATI-like cells and ATII cells to injury induced by IAV and overexpression of Nrf2 with AdNrf2 protected these cells. Furthermore, Nrf2 overexpression followed by infection with PR8 virus decreased virus replication, influenza A nucleoprotein expression, antiviral response and oxidative stress. However, AdNrf2 did not increase IFN-λ1 (IL-29) levels.
Our results indicate that IAV induces alveolar epithelial injury and that Nrf2 protects these cells from the cytopathic effects of IAV likely by increasing the expression of antioxidant genes. Identifying the pathways involved in protecting cells from injury during influenza infection may be particularly important for developing new therapeutic strategies.
Human alveolar epithelial cells; Alveolar macrophages; Influenza A virus; Nrf2; Apoptosis; Efferocytosis
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.
The C-terminal domain (CTD, aa 686–741) of nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-related factor 1 (Nrf1) shares 53% amino acid sequence identity with the equivalent Neh3 domain of Nrf2, a homologous transcription factor. The Neh3 positively regulates Nrf2, but whether the Neh3-like (Neh3L) CTD of Nrf1 has a similar role in regulating Nrf1-target gene expression is unknown. Herein, we report that CTD negatively regulates the full-length Nrf1 (i.e. 120-kDa glycoprotein and 95-kDa deglycoprotein) and its shorter isoform LCR-F1/Nrf1β (55-kDa). Attachment of its CTD-adjoining 112-aa to the C-terminus of Nrf2 yields the chimaeric Nrf2-C112Nrf1 factor with a markedly decreased activity. Live-cell imaging of GFP-CTD reveals that the extra-nuclear portion of the fusion protein is allowed to associate with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane through the amphipathic Neh3L region of Nrf1 and its basic c-tail. Thus removal of either the entire CTD or the essential Neh3L portion within CTD from Nrf1, LCR-F1/Nrf1β and Nrf2-C112Nrf1, results in an increase in their transcriptional ability to regulate antioxidant response element (ARE)-driven reporter genes. Further examinations unravel that two smaller isoforms, 36-kDa Nrf1γ and 25-kDa Nrf1δ, act as dominant-negative inhibitors to compete against Nrf1, LCR-F1/Nrf1β and Nrf2. Relative to Nrf1, LCR-F1/Nrf1β is a weak activator, that is positively regulated by its Asn/Ser/Thr-rich (NST) domain and acidic domain 2 (AD2). Like AD1 of Nrf1, both AD2 and NST domain of LCR-F1/Nrf1β fused within two different chimaeric contexts to yield Gal4D:Nrf1β607 and Nrf1β:C270Nrf2, positively regulate their transactivation activity of cognate Gal4- and Nrf2-target reporter genes. More importantly, differential expression of endogenous ARE-battery genes is attributable to up-regulation by Nrf1 and LCR-F1/Nrf1β and down-regulation by Nrf1γ and Nrf1δ.
In response to oxidative stress, the transcription factor NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) controls the fate of cells through transcriptional upregulation of antioxidant response element (ARE)-bearing genes, including those encoding endogenous antioxidants, phase II detoxifying enzymes, and transporters. Expression of the Nrf2-dependent proteins is critical for ameliorating or eliminating toxicants/carcinogens to maintain cellular redox homeostasis. As a result, activation of the Nrf2 pathway, by naturally-occurring compounds or synthetic chemicals at sub-toxic doses, confers protection against subsequent toxic/carcinogenic exposure. Thus, the use of dietary compounds or synthetic chemicals to boost the Nrf2-dependent adaptive response to counteract environmental insults has emerged to be a promising strategy for cancer prevention. Interestingly, recent emerging data has revealed the “dark” side of Nrf2. Nrf2 and its downstream genes are overexpressed in many cancer cell lines and human cancer tissues, giving cancer cells an advantage for survival and growth. Furthermore, Nrf2 is upregulated in resistant cancer cells and is thought to be responsible for acquired chemoresistance. Therefore, it may be necessary to inhibit the Nrf2 pathway during chemotherapy. This review is primarily focused on the role of Nrf2 in cancer, with emphasis on the recent findings indicating the cancer promoting function of Nrf2 and its role in acquired chemoresistance.
Increased amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in many pathological conditions, including cancer. The major machinery that the cell employs to neutralize excess ROS is through the activation of the antioxidant-response element (ARE) that controls the activation of many phase II detoxification enzymes. The transcription factor that recognizes the ARE, Nrf2, can be activated by a variety of small molecules, most of which contain an α,β-unsaturated carbonyl system. In the pursuit of chemopreventive agents from marine organisms, we built, fractionated, and screened a library of 30 field-collected eukaryotic algae from Florida. An edible green alga, Ulva lactuca, yielded multiple active fractions by ARE–luciferase reporter assay. We isolated three monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) derivatives as active components, including a new keto-type C18 fatty acid (1), the corresponding shorter chain C16 acid (2), and an amide derivative (3) of the C18 acid. Their chemical structures were elucidated by NMR and mass spectrometry. All three contain the conjugated enone motif between C7 and C9, which is thought to be responsible for the ARE activity. Subsequent biological studies focused on 1, the most active and abundant ARE activator isolated. C18 acid 1 induced the expression of ARE-regulated cytoprotective genes, including NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1, heme oxygenase 1, thioredoxin reductase 1, both subunits of the glutamate–cysteine ligase (catalytic subunit and modifier subunit), and the cystine/glutamate exchange transporter, in IMR-32 human neuroblastoma cells. Its cellular activity requires the presence of Nrf2 and PI3K function, based on RNA interference and pharmacological inhibitor studies, respectively. Treatment with 1 led only to Nrf2 activation, and not the increase in production of NRF2 mRNA. To test its ARE activity and cytoprotective potential in vivo, we treated mice with a single dose of a U. lactuca fraction that was enriched with 1, which showed ARE-activating effects similar to those observed in vitro. This could be owing to this fraction's ability to stabilize Nrf2 through inhibition of Keap1-mediated Nrf2 ubiquitination and the subsequent accumulation and nuclear translocation of Nrf2. The induction of many ARE-driven antioxidant genes in vivo and most prominently in the heart agreed with the commonly recognized cardioprotective properties of MUFAs. A significant increase in Nqo1 transcript levels was also found in other mouse tissues such as the brain, lung, and stomach. Collectively, this study provides new insight into why consumption of dietary seaweed may have health benefits, and the identified compounds add to the list of chemopreventive dietary unsaturated fatty acids.
Oxidative stress; Reactive oxygen species; Nrf2; Keap1; Antioxidant-response element; Antioxidants; Edible seaweeds; Cytoprotective enzymes; NQO1; Ulva lactuca; Monounsaturated fatty acids; Fatty acid amides; Glutathione; Free radicals
Rationale: Oxidative stress is a key contributor in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) pathogenesis caused by cigarette smoking. NRF2, a redox-sensitive transcription factor, dissociates from its inhibitor, KEAP1, to induce antioxidant expression that inhibits oxidative stress.
Objectives: To determine the link between severity of COPD, oxidative stress, and NRF2-dependent antioxidant levels in the peripheral lung tissue of patients with COPD.
Methods: We assessed the expression of NRF2, NRF2-dependent antioxidants, regulators of NRF2 activity, and oxidative damage in non-COPD (smokers and former smokers) and smoker COPD lungs (mild and advanced). Cigarette smoke–exposed human lung epithelial cells (Beas2B) and mice were used to understand the mechanisms.
Measurements and Main Results: When compared with non-COPD lungs, the COPD patient lungs showed (1) marked decline in NRF2-dependent antioxidants and glutathione levels, (2) increased oxidative stress markers, (3) significant decrease in NRF2 protein with no change in NRF2 mRNA levels, and (4) similar KEAP1 but significantly decreased DJ-1 levels (a protein that stabilizes NRF2 protein by impairing KEAP1-dependent proteasomal degradation of NRF2). Exposure of Bea2B cells to cigarette smoke caused oxidative modification and enhanced proteasomal degradation of DJ-1 protein. Disruption of DJ-1 in mouse lungs, mouse embryonic fibroblasts, and Beas2B cells lowered NRF2 protein stability and impaired antioxidant induction in response to cigarette smoke. Interestingly, targeting KEAP1 by siRNA or the small-molecule activator sulforaphane restored induction of NRF2-dependent antioxidants in DJ-1–disrupted cells in response to cigarette smoke.
Conclusions: NRF2-dependent antioxidants and DJ-1 expression was negatively associated with severity of COPD. Therapy directed toward enhancing NRF2-regulated antioxidants may be a novel strategy for attenuating the effects of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of COPD.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; NRF2; DJ-1; oxidative stress; antioxidants
Arsenic is present in the environment and has become a worldwide health concern due to its toxicity and carcinogenicity. However, the specific mechanism(s) by which arsenic elicits its toxic effects has yet to be fully elucidated. The transcription factor nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) has been recognized as the master regulator of a cellular defense mechanism against toxic insults. This review highlights studies demonstrating that arsenic activates the Nrf2-Keap1 antioxidant pathway by a distinct mechanism from that of natural compounds such as sulforaphane (SF) found in broccoli sprouts or tert-butylhyrdoquinone (tBHQ), a natural antioxidant commonly used as a food preservative. Evidence also suggests that arsenic prolongs Nrf2 activation and may mimic constitutive activation of Nrf2, which has been found in several human cancers due to disruption of the Nrf2-Keap1 axis. The current literature strongly suggests that activation of Nrf2 by arsenic potentially contributes to, rather than protects against, arsenic toxicity and carcinogenicity. The mechanism(s) by which known Nrf2 activators, such as the natural chemopreventive compounds SF and lipoic acid, protect against the deleterious effects caused by arsenic will also be discussed. These findings will provide insight to further understand how arsenic promotes a prolonged Nrf2 response, which will lead to the identification of novel molecular markers and development of rational therapies for the prevention or intervention of arsenic-induced diseases. The National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) award has provided the opportunity to review the progress both in the fields of arsenic toxicology and Nrf2 biology. Much of the funding has led to (1) the novel discovery that arsenic activates the Nrf2 pathway by a mechanism different to that of other Nrf2 activators, such as sulforaphane and tert-butylhydroquinone, (2) activation of Nrf2 by chemopreventive compounds protects against arsenic toxicity and carcinogenicity both in vitro and in vivo, (3) constitutive activation of Nrf2 by disrupting Keap1-mediated negative regulation contributes to cancer and chemoresistance, (4) p62-mediated sequestration of Keap1 activates the Nrf2 pathway, and (5) arsenic-mediated Nrf2 activation may be through a p62-dependent mechanism. All of these findings have been published and are discussed in this review. This award has laid the foundation for my laboratory to further investigate the molecular mechanism(s) that regulate the Nrf2 pathway and how it may play an integral role in arsenic toxicity. Moreover, understanding the biology behind arsenic toxicity and carcinogenicity will help in the discovery of potential strategies to prevent or control arsenic-mediated adverse effects.
Nrf2; Arsenic; Keap1; Oxidative stress; p62; Autophagy; Chemoprevention
Although the Nrf2 (nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45 subunit-related factor 2) regulated expression of multiple antioxidant and cytoprotective genes through the electrophile responsive element (EpRE) is well established, interaction of Nrf2/EpRE with Nrf1, a closely-related transcription factor, is less well understood. Due to either proteolysis or alternative translation, Nrf1 has been found as proteins of varying size, p120, p95, and p65, which have been described as either activators of EpRE or competitive inhibitors of Nrf2. We investigated the effect of Nrf1 on EpRE-regulated gene expression using the catalytic and modifier subunits of glutamate cysteine ligase (GCLC and GCLM) as models and explored the potential role of Nrf1 in altering their expression in aging and upon chronic exposure to airborne nano-sized particulate matter (nPM). Nrf1 knockout resulted in the increased expression of GCLC and GCLM in human bronchial epithelial (HBE1) cells. Overexpression Nrf2 in combination with either p120 or p65 diminished or failed to further increase the GCLC- and GLCM-EpRE luciferase activity. All known forms of Nrf1 protein, remained unchanged in the lungs of mice with age or in response to nPM. Our study shows that Nrf1 could inhibit EpRE activity in vitro, whereas the precise role of Nrf1 in vivo requires further investigations. We conclude that Nrf1 may not be directly responsible for the loss of Nrf2-dependent inducibility of antioxidant and cytoprotective genes observed in aged animals.
► Nrf1 knockout increased GCLC and GCLM expression in human bronchial epithelial cells. ► Overexpressed Nrf1 forms p120 or p65 increased GCLC- and GLCM-EpRE luciferase activity. ► Overexpressed Nrf2 competes with Nrf1 forms. ► Nrf1 forms are unchanged in the lungs of mice by age. ► Nrf1 forms are unchanged in exposure to nanoparticulate air pollution.
EpRE, electrophile response element; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; GCL, glutamate cysteine ligase; GCLC, catalytic subunit of GCL; GCLM, modifier subunit of GCL; HBE1, human bronchial epithelial cells; HO-1, heme oxygenase; Nrf1, nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45 subunit-related factor 1; Nrf2, nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45 subunit-related factor 2; nPM, nanoparticulate air pollution; Nrf1; Nrf2; Glutamate cysteine ligase; Electrophile response element; Air pollution; Phase II genes
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
Human exposures to environmental toxicants have been associated with development of a number of diseases. Animal experiments have identified a number of cytoprotective enzymes under the transcriptional control of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) including electrophile conjugation and antioxidative enzymes and enzymes responsible for the production of antioxidants, reducing equivalents and cofactors. The up-regulation of these enzymes represents an adaptive response which occurs in the face of exposure to electrophilic or oxidative compounds thereby leading to enhanced metabolism of these molecules or their reactive metabolites. This adaptive response is regulated by an interaction between Keap1 and Nrf2 in which the exposure to reactive molecules is sensed either directly by Keap1 or indirectly by cellular signaling cascades resulting in activation of Nrf2 transcriptional regulation. The Nrf2-mediated adaptive response has been shown to attenuate toxicity and carcinogenesis during electrophile or oxidative stress as well as inflammation in rodent models. The cytoprotective attributes of the Nrf2 signaling pathway have been targeted for chemoprevention as administration of Nrf2-inducing agents has been shown to result in decreased carcinogenesis in animal models and altered carcinogen metabolism in humans. On the other hand, polymorphisms in the Nrf2 signaling pathway can lead to differential susceptibility to disease while mutations in the Nrf2 signaling pathway have been shown to an effective mechanism for cancer cells to evade chemotherapy. Overall, the Nrf2 cytoprotective adaptive response has evolved to be a powerful protective strategy for organisms against exposure to environmental toxicants and may provide insight into differential disease susceptibilities across populations and responses to therapies designed to alleviate these conditions.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has emerged as an effective treatment for various solid tumors. The transcription factor NRF2 is known to protect against oxidative and electrophilic stress; however, its constitutive activity in cancer confers resistance to anti-cancer drugs. In the present study, we investigated NRF2 signaling as a potential molecular determinant of pheophorbide a (Pba)-based PDT by using NRF2-knockdown breast carcinoma MDA-MB-231 cells. Cells with stable NRF2 knockdown showed enhanced cytotoxicity and apoptotic/necrotic cell death following PDT along with increased levels of singlet oxygen and reactive oxygen species (ROS). A confocal microscopic visualization of fluorogenic Pba demonstrated that NRF2-knockdown cells accumulate more Pba than control cells. A subsequent analysis of the expression of membrane drug transporters showed that the basal expression of BCRP is NRF2-dependent. Among measured drug transporters, the basal expression of breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP; ABCG2) was only diminished by NRF2-knockdown. Furthermore, after incubation with the BCRP specific inhibitor, differential cellular Pba accumulation and ROS in two cell lines were abolished. In addition, NRF2-knockdown cells express low level of peroxiredoxin 3 compared to the control, which implies that diminished mitochondrial ROS defense system can be contributing to PDT sensitization. The role of the NRF2-BCRP pathway in Pba-PDT response was further confirmed in colon carcinoma HT29 cells. Specifically, NRF2 knockdown resulted in enhanced cell death and increased singlet oxygen and ROS levels following PDT through the diminished expression of BCRP. Similarly, PDT-induced ROS generation was substantially increased by treatment with NRF2 shRNA in breast carcinoma MCF-7 cells, colon carcinoma HCT116 cells, renal carcinoma A498 cells, and glioblastoma A172 cells. Taken together, these results indicate that the manipulation of NRF2 can enhance Pba-PDT sensitivity in multiple cancer cells.
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
NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is an important transcription factor involved in antioxidant response. Nrf2 binds antioxidant response elements (ARE) within promoters of genes encoding detoxification enzymes (e.g., NAD (P) H-quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1)) leading to their transcriptional activation. Nrf2 function is regulated post-translationally by its negative regulator Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) that binds Nrf2 and induces cytoplasmic Nrf2 degradation. Our present studies provide new evidence that Nrf2 expression can be regulated by a Keap1-independent mechanism. Here, we utilized breast epithelial cells to explore the impact of microRNA (miRNA) on Nrf2 expression. We found that Nrf2 mRNA levels are reversibly correlated with miR-28 expression and that ectopic expression of miR-28 alone reduces Nrf2 mRNA and protein levels. We further investigated the molecular mechanisms by which miR-28 inhibits Nrf2 mRNA expression. Initially, the ability of miR-28 to regulate the 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) of Nrf2 mRNA was evaluated via luciferase reporter assay. We observed that miR-28 reduces wild-type Nrf2 3′UTR luciferase reporter activity and this repression is eliminated upon mutation of the miR-28 targeting seed sequence within the Nrf2 3′UTR. Moreover, over-expression of miR-28 decreased endogenous Nrf2 mRNA and protein expression. We also explored the impact of miR-28 on Keap1-Nrf2 interactions and found that miR-28 overexpression does not alter Keap1 protein levels and has no effect on the interaction of Keap1 and Nrf2. Our findings, that miR-28 targets the 3′UTR of Nrf2 mRNA and decreases Nrf2 expression, suggest that this miRNA is involved in the regulation of Nrf2 expression in breast epithelial cells.
Mammary epithelial cells; miR-28; Nrf2; Chemoprevention