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.
Transcription factor Nrf2 is a major regulator of genes encoding phase 2 detoxifying enzymes and antioxidant stress proteins in response to electrophilic agents and oxidative stress. In the absence of such stimuli, Nrf2 is inactive owing to its cytoplasmic retention by Keap1 and rapid degradation through the proteasome system. We examined the contribution of Keap1 to the rapid turnover of Nrf2 (half-life of less than 20 min) and found that a direct association between Keap1 and Nrf2 is required for Nrf2 degradation. In a series of domain function analyses of Keap1, we found that both the BTB and intervening-region (IVR) domains are crucial for Nrf2 degradation, implying that these two domains act to recruit ubiquitin-proteasome factors. Indeed, Cullin 3 (Cul3), a subunit of the E3 ligase complex, was found to interact specifically with Keap1 in vivo. Keap1 associates with the N-terminal region of Cul3 through the IVR domain and promotes the ubiquitination of Nrf2 in cooperation with the Cul3-Roc1 complex. These results thus provide solid evidence that Keap1 functions as an adaptor of Cul3-based E3 ligase. To our knowledge, Nrf2 and Keap1 are the first reported mammalian substrate and adaptor, respectively, of the Cul3-based E3 ligase system.
The bZIP transcription factor Nrf2 controls a genetic program that protects cells from oxidative damage and maintains cellular redox homeostasis. Keap1, a BTB-Kelch protein, is the major upstream regulator of Nrf2. Keap1 functions as a substrate adaptor protein for a Cul3-dependent E3 ubiquitin ligase complex to repress steady-state levels of Nrf2 and Nrf2-dependent transcription. Cullin-dependent ubiquitin ligase complexes have been proposed to undergo dynamic cycles of assembly and disassembly that enable substrate adaptor exchange or recycling. In this report, we have characterized the importance of substrate adaptor recycling for regulation of Keap1-mediated repression of Nrf2. Association of Keap1 with Cul3 was decreased by ectopic expression of CAND1 and was increased by small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated knockdown of CAND1. However, both ectopic overexpression and siRNA-mediated knockdown of CAND1 decreased the ability of Keap1 to target Nrf2 for ubiquitin-dependent degradation, resulting in stabilization of Nrf2 and activation of Nrf2-dependent gene expression. Neddylation of Cul3 on Lys 712 is required for Keap1-dependent ubiquitination of Nrf2 in vivo. However, the K712R mutant Cul3 molecule, which is not neddylated, can still assemble with Keap1 into a functional ubiquitin ligase complex in vitro. These results provide support for a model in which substrate adaptor recycling is required for efficient substrate ubiquitination by cullin-dependent E3 ubiquitin ligase complexes.
Eukaryote cells balance production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) with levels of anti-oxidant enzyme activity to maintain cellular redox homeostasis. Mitochondria are a major source of ROS, while many anti-oxidant genes are regulated by the Nrf2 transcription factor. Keap1, a redox-regulated substrate adaptor for a cullin-based ubiquitin ligase, targets Nrf2 for proteosome-mediated degradation and represses Nrf2-dependent gene expression. We have previously identified a member of the phosphoglycerate mutase family, PGAM5, as a Keap1-binding protein. In this report, we demonstrate that PGAM5 is targeted to the outer membrane of mitochondria by an N-terminal mitochondrial-localization sequence. Furthermore, we provide evidence that PGAM5 forms a ternary complex containing both Keap1 and Nrf2, in which the dimeric Keap1 protein simultaneously binds both PGAM5 and Nrf2 through their conserved E(S/T)GE motifs. Knockdown of either Keap1 or PGAM5 activates Nrf2-dependent gene expression. We suggest that this ternary complex provides a molecular framework for understanding how nuclear anti-oxidant gene expression is regulated in response to changes in mitochondrial function(s).
Mitochondrial proteins; Anti-oxidant gene expression; Oxidative stress; ubiquitin ligases; chemoprevention
The Nrf2 transcription factor promotes survival following cellular insults that trigger oxidative damage. Nrf2 activity is opposed by the BTB/POZ domain protein Keap1. Keap1 is proposed to regulate Nrf2 activity strictly through its capacity to inhibit Nrf2 nuclear import. Recent work suggests that inhibition of Nrf2 may also depend upon ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis. To address the contribution of Keap1-dependent sequestration versus Nrf2 proteolysis, we identified the E3 ligase that regulates Nrf2 ubiquitination. We demonstrate that Keap1 is not solely a cytosolic anchor; rather, Keap1 is an adaptor that bridges Nrf2 to Cul3. We demonstrate that Cul3-Keap1 complexes regulate Nrf2 polyubiquitination both in vitro and in vivo. Inhibition of either Keap1 or Cul3 increases Nrf2 nuclear accumulation, leading to promiscuous activation of Nrf2-dependent gene expression. Our data demonstrate that Keap1 restrains Nrf2 activity via its capacity to target Nrf2 to a cytoplasmic Cul3-based E3 ligase and suggest a model in which Keap1 coordinately regulates both Nrf2 accumulation and access to target genes.
In response to stress, cells can utilize several cellular processes, such as autophagy, which is a bulk-lysosomal degradation pathway, to mitigate damages and increase the chances of cell survival. Deregulation of autophagy causes upregulation of p62 and the formation of p62-containing aggregates, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. The Nrf2-Keap1 pathway functions as a critical regulator of the cell's defense mechanism against oxidative stress by controlling the expression of many cellular protective proteins. Under basal conditions, Nrf2 is ubiquitinated by the Keap1-Cul3-E3 ubiquitin ligase complex and targeted to the 26S proteasome for degradation. Upon induction, the activity of the E3 ubiquitin ligase is inhibited through the modification of cysteine residues in Keap1, resulting in the stabilization and activation of Nrf2. In this current study, we identified the direct interaction between p62 and Keap1 and the residues required for the interaction have been mapped to 349-DPSTGE-354 in p62 and three arginines in the Kelch domain of Keap1. Accumulation of endogenous p62 or ectopic expression of p62 sequesters Keap1 into aggregates, resulting in the inhibition of Keap1-mediated Nrf2 ubiquitination and its subsequent degradation by the proteasome. In contrast, overexpression of mutated p62, which loses its ability to interact with Keap1, had no effect on Nrf2 stability, demonstrating that p62-mediated Nrf2 upregulation is Keap1 dependent. These findings demonstrate that autophagy deficiency activates the Nrf2 pathway in a noncanonical cysteine-independent mechanism.
The bZIP transcription factor Nrf2 controls a genetic program that protects cells from oxidative damage and maintains cellular redox homeostasis. Keap1, a BTB-Kelch protein, is the major upstream regulator of Nrf2 and controls both the subcellular localization and steady-state levels of Nrf2. In this report, we demonstrate that Keap1 functions as a substrate adaptor protein for a Cul3-dependent E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. Keap1 assembles into a functional E3 ubiquitin ligase complex with Cul3 and Rbx1 that targets multiple lysine residues located in the N-terminal Neh2 domain of Nrf2 for ubiquitin conjugation both in vivo and in vitro. Keap1-dependent ubiquitination of Nrf2 is inhibited following exposure of cells to quinone-induced oxidative stress and sulforaphane, a cancer-preventive isothiocyanate. A mutant Keap1 protein containing a single cysteine-to-serine substitution at residue 151 within the BTB domain of Keap1 is markedly resistant to inhibition by either quinone-induced oxidative stress or sulforaphane. Inhibition of Keap1-dependent ubiquitination of Nrf2 correlates with decreased association of Keap1 with Cul3. Neither quinone-induced oxidative stress nor sulforaphane disrupts association between Keap1 and Nrf2. Our results suggest that the ability of Keap1 to assemble into a functional E3 ubiquitin ligase complex is the critical determinant that controls steady-state levels of Nrf2 in response to cancer-preventive compounds and oxidative stress.
Nrf2 is the key transcription factor regulating the antioxidant response. Nrf2 signaling is repressed by Keap1 at basal condition and induced by oxidative stress. Keap1 is recently identified as a Cullin 3-dependent substrate adaptor protein. A two-sites binding “hinge & latch” model vividly depicts how Keap1 can efficiently present Nrf2 as substrate for ubiquitination. Oxidative perturbation can impede Keap1-mediated Nrf2 ubiquitination but fail to disrupt Nrf2/Keap1 binding. Nrf2 per se is a redox-sensitive transcripon factor. A new Nrf2-mediated redox signaling model is proposed based on these new discoveries. Free floating Nrf2 protein functions as a redox-sensitive probe. Keap1 instead functions as a gate keeper to control the availability of Nrf2 probes and thus regulates the overall sensitivity of the redox signaling.
Nrf2; Keap1; redox
Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs) comprise the largest known category of ubiquitin ligases. CRLs regulate an extensive number of dynamic cellular processes, including multiple aspects of the cell cycle, transcription, signal transduction, and development. CRLs are multisubunit complexes composed of a cullin, RING H2 finger protein, a variable substrate-recognition subunit (SRS), and for most CRLs, an adaptor that links the SRS to the complex. Eukaryotic species contain multiple cullins, with five major types in metazoa. Each cullin forms a distinct class of CRL complex, with distinct adaptors and/or substrate-recognition subunits. Despite this diversity, each of the classes of CRL complexes is subject to similar regulatory mechanisms. This review focuses on the global regulation of CRL complexes, encompassing: neddylation, deneddylation by the COP9 Signalosome (CSN), inhibitory binding by CAND1, and the dimerization of CRL complexes. We also address the role of cycles of activation and inactivation in regulating CRL activity and switching between substrate-recognition subunits.
Background: A detailed description of the kinetics of deneddylation of cullin by CSN has been lacking.
Results: Selected factors and SCF subunits are able to inhibit deneddylation to varying degrees. CSN interferes with SCF-mediated ubiquitination through a noncatalytic mechanism.
Conclusion: Deneddylation of Cul1 by CSN is regulated by F-box protein, substrate, and other factors.
Significance: Our work reported here could facilitate the development of directed therapies.
COP9 signalosome (CSN) mediates deconjugation of the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8 from the cullin subunits of SCF and other cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs). This process is essential to maintain the proper activity of CRLs in cells. Here, we report a detailed kinetic characterization of CSN-mediated deconjugation of Nedd8 from SCF. CSN is an efficient enzyme, with a kcat of ∼1 s−1 and Kmfor neddylated Cul1-Rbx1 of ∼200 nm, yielding a kcat/Km near the anticipated diffusion-controlled limit. Assembly with an F-box-Skp1 complex markedly inhibited deneddylation, although the magnitude varied considerably, with Fbw7-Skp1 inhibiting by ∼5-fold but Skp2-Cks1-Skp1 by only ∼15%. Deneddylation of both SCFFbw7 and SCFSkp2-Cks1 was further inhibited ∼2.5-fold by the addition of substrate. Combined, the inhibition by Fbw7-Skp1 plus its substrate cyclin E was greater than 10-fold. Unexpectedly, our results also uncover significant product inhibition by deconjugated Cul1, which results from the ability of Cul1 to bind tightly to CSN. Reciprocally, CSN inhibits the ubiquitin ligase activity of deneddylated Cul1. We propose a model in which assembled CRL complexes engaged with substrate are normally refractory to deneddylation. Upon consumption of substrate and subsequent deneddylation, CSN can remain stably bound to the CRL and hold it in low state of reduced activity.
Analytical Biochemistry; Enzyme Kinetics; Protein Degradation; Protein-Protein Interactions; Ubiquitin Ligase; CSN; Cop9; Cul1; Nedd8; Deneddylation
The concentrations and functions of many eukaryotic proteins are regulated by the ubiquitin pathway, which consists of ubiquitin activation (E1), conjugation (E2), and ligation (E3). Cullins are a family of evolutionarily conserved proteins that assemble by far the largest family of E3 ligase complexes. Cullins, via a conserved C-terminal domain, bind with the RING finger protein Roc1 to recruit the catalytic function of E2. Via a distinct N-terminal domain, individual cullins bind to a protein motif present in multiple proteins to recruit specific substrates. Cullin 3 (Cul3), but not other cullins, binds directly with BTB domains to constitute a potentially large number of BTB-CUL3-ROC1 E3 ubiquitin ligases. Here we report that the human BTB-Kelch protein Keap1, a negative regulator of the antioxidative transcription factor Nrf2, binds to CUL3 and Nrf2 via its BTB and Kelch domains, respectively. The KEAP1-CUL3-ROC1 complex promoted NRF2 ubiquitination in vitro and knocking down Keap1 or CUL3 by short interfering RNA resulted in NRF2 protein accumulation in vivo. We suggest that Keap1 negatively regulates Nrf2 function in part by targeting Nrf2 for ubiquitination by the CUL3-ROC1 ligase and subsequent degradation by the proteasome. Blocking NRF2 degradation in cells expressing both KEAP1 and NRF2 by either inhibiting the proteasome activity or knocking down Cul3, resulted in NRF2 accumulation in the cytoplasm. These results may reconcile previously observed cytoplasmic sequestration of NRF2 by KEAP1 and suggest a possible regulatory step between KEAP1-NRF2 binding and NRF2 degradation.
Int6 is a proto-oncogene implicated in various types of cancer, but the mechanisms underlying its activity are not clear. Int6 encodes a subunit of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 3, and interacts with two related complexes, the proteasome, whose activity is regulated by Int6 in S. pombe, and the COP9 signalosome. The COP9 signalosome regulates the activity of Cullin-Ring Ubiquitin Ligases via deneddylation of their cullin subunit. We report here the generation and analysis of two Drosophila mutants in Int6. The mutants are lethal demonstrating that Int6 is an essential gene. The mutant larvae accumulate high levels of non-neddylated Cul1, suggesting that Int6 is a positive regulator of cullin neddylation. Overexpression in Int6 in cell culture leads to accumulation of neddylated cullins, further supporting a positive role for Int6 in regulating neddylation. Thus Int6 and the COP9 signalosome play opposing roles in regulation of cullin neddylation.
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
The COP9/signalosome (CSN) is an evolutionarily conserved macromolecular complex that regulates the cullin-RING ligase (CRL) class of E3 ubiquitin ligases, primarily by removing the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8 from the cullin subunit. In the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo, the CSN controls the degradation of the microtubule-severing protein MEI-1 through CUL-3 deneddylation. However, the molecular mechanisms of CSN function and its subunit composition remain to be elucidated. Here, using a proteomic approach, we have characterized the CSN and CUL-3 complexes from C. elegans embryos. We show that the CSN physically interacts with the CUL-3-based CRL and regulates its activity by counteracting the autocatalytic instability of the substrate-specific adaptor MEL-26. Importantly, we identified the uncharacterized protein K08F11.3/CIF-1 (for CSN-eukaryotic initiation factor 3 [eIF3]) as a stoichiometric and functionally important subunit of the CSN complex. CIF-1 appears to be the only ortholog of Csn7 encoded by the C. elegans genome, but it also exhibits extensive sequence similarity to eIF3m family members, which are required for the initiation of protein translation. Indeed, CIF-1 binds eIF-3.F and inactivation of cif-1 impairs translation in vivo. Taken together, our results indicate that CIF-1 is a shared subunit of the CSN and eIF3 complexes and may therefore link protein translation and degradation.
Regulation of transcription factor Nrf2 (NF-E2-related factor 2) involves redox-sensitive proteasomal degradation via the E3 ubiquitin ligase Keap1/Cul3. However, Nrf2 is controlled by other mechanisms that have not yet been elucidated. We now show that glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) phosphorylates a group of Ser residues in the Neh6 domain of mouse Nrf2 that overlap with an SCF/β-TrCP destruction motif (DSGIS, residues 334 to 338) and promotes its degradation in a Keap1-independent manner. Nrf2 was stabilized by GSK-3 inhibitors in Keap1-null mouse embryo fibroblasts. Similarly, an Nrf2ΔETGE mutant, which cannot be degraded via Keap1, accumulated when GSK-3 activity was blocked. Phosphorylation of a Ser cluster in the Neh6 domain of Nrf2 stimulated its degradation because a mutant Nrf2ΔETGE 6S/6A protein, lacking these Ser residues, exhibited a longer half-life than Nrf2ΔETGE. Moreover, Nrf2ΔETGE 6S/6A was insensitive to β-TrCP regulation and exhibited lower levels of ubiquitination than Nrf2ΔETGE. GSK-3β enhanced ubiquitination of Nrf2ΔETGE but not that of Nrf2ΔETGE 6S/6A. The Nrf2ΔETGE protein but not Nrf2ΔETGE 6S/6A coimmunoprecipitated with β-TrCP, and this association was enhanced by GSK-3β. Our results show for the first time that Nrf2 is targeted by GSK-3 for SCF/β-TrCP-dependent degradation. We propose a “dual degradation” model to describe the regulation of Nrf2 under different pathophysiological conditions.
Cullin proteins are molecular scaffolds that have crucial roles in the post-translational modification of cellular proteins involving ubiquitin. The mammalian cullin protein family comprises eight members (CUL1 to CUL7 and PARC), which are characterized by a cullin homology domain. CUL1 to CUL7 assemble multi-subunit Cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligase (CRL) complexes, the largest family of E3 ligases with more than 200 members. Although CUL7 and PARC are present only in chordates, other members of the cullin protein family are found in Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, Arabidopsis thaliana and yeast. A cullin protein tethers both a substrate-targeting unit, often through an adaptor protein, and the RING finger component in a CRL. The cullin-organized CRL thus positions a substrate close to the RING-bound E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, which catalyzes the transfer of ubiquitin to the substrate. In addition, conjugation of cullins with the ubiquitin-like molecule Nedd8 modulates activation of the corresponding CRL complex, probably through conformational regulation of the interactions between cullin's carboxy-terminal tail and CRL's RING subunit. Genetic studies in several model organisms have helped to unravel a multitude of physiological functions associated with cullin proteins and their respective CRLs. CRLs target numerous substrates and thus have an impact on a range of biological processes, including cell growth, development, signal transduction, transcriptional control, genomic integrity and tumor suppression. Moreover, mutations in CUL7 and CUL4B genes have been linked to hereditary human diseases.
Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs) are critical regulators of multiple developmental and cellular processes in eukaryotes. CAND1 is a biochemical inhibitor of CRLs, yet has been shown to promote CRL activity in plant and mammalian cells. Here we analyze CAND1 function in the context of a developing metazoan organism. C. elegans CAND-1 is capable of binding to all of the cullins, and we show that it physically interacts with CUL-2 and CUL-4 in vivo. The covalent attachment of the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8 is required for cullin activity in animals and plants. In cand-1 mutants, the levels of the neddylated isoforms of CUL-2 and CUL-4 are increased, indicating that CAND-1 is a negative regulator of cullin neddylation. cand-1 mutants are hypersensitive to the partial loss of cullin activity, suggesting that CAND-1 facilitates CRL functions. cand-1 mutants exhibit impenetrant phenotypes, including developmental arrest, morphological defects of the vulva and tail, and reduced fecundity. cand-1 mutants share with cul-1 and lin-23 mutants the phenotypes of supernumerary seam cell divisions, defective alae formation, and the accumulation of the SCFLIN-23 target the glutamate receptor GLR-1. The observation that cand-1 mutants have phenotypes associated with the loss of the SCFLIN-23 complex, but lack phenotypes associated with other specific CRL complexes, suggests that CAND-1 is differentially required for the activity of distinct CRL complexes.
CAND1; CRL; cullin; Nedd8; neddylation; ubiquitin ligase; seam cells
Nrf2 is the regulator of the oxidative/electrophilic stress response. Its turnover is maintained by Keap1-mediated proteasomal degradation via a two-site substrate recognition mechanism in which two Nrf2-Keap1 binding sites form a hinge and latch. The E3 ligase adaptor Keap1 recognizes Nrf2 through its conserved ETGE and DLG motifs. In this study, we examined how the ETGE and DLG motifs bind to Keap1 in a very similar fashion but with different binding affinities by comparing the crystal complex of a Keap1-DC domain-DLG peptide with that of a Keap1-DC domain-ETGE peptide. We found that these two motifs interact with the same basic surface of either Keap1-DC domain of the Keap1 homodimer. The DLG motif works to correctly position the lysines within the Nrf2 Neh2 domain for efficient ubiquitination. Together with the results from calorimetric and functional studies, we conclude that different electrostatic potentials primarily define the ETGE and DLG motifs as a hinge and latch that senses the oxidative/electrophilic stress.
Dynamic reorganization of signaling systems frequently accompany pathway perturbations, yet quantitative studies of network remodeling by pathway stimuli are lacking. Here, we report the development of a quantitative proteomics platform centered on multiplex Absolute Quantification (AQUA) technology to elucidate the architecture of the cullin-RING ubiquitin ligase (CRL) network and to evaluate current models of dynamic CRL remodeling. Current models suggest that CRL complexes are controlled by cycles of CRL deneddylation and CAND1 binding. Contrary to expectations, acute CRL inhibition with MLN4924, an inhibitor of the NEDD8-activating enzyme, does not result in a global reorganization of the CRL network. Examination of CRL complex stoichiometry reveals that, independent of cullin neddylation, a large fraction of cullins are assembled with adaptor modules while only a small fraction are associated with CAND1. These studies suggest an alternative model of CRL dynamicity where the abundance of adaptor modules, rather than cycles of neddylation and CAND1 binding, drives CRL network organization.
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.
Background: KEAP1 is a ubiquitin ligase adaptor that promotes the ubiquitination and degradation of NRF2, a transcription factor that drives the antioxidant response.
Results: Wilms tumor gene on the X chromosome (WTX) stabilizes NRF2 by competing with NRF2 for binding to KEAP1.
Conclusion: WTX regulates the antioxidant response.
Significance: This study reveals a novel regulatory mechanism governing the antioxidant response.
WTX is a tumor suppressor protein that is lost or mutated in up to 30% of cases of Wilms tumor. Among its known functions, WTX interacts with the β-transducin repeat containing family of ubiquitin ligase adaptors and promotes the ubiquitination and degradation of the transcription factor β-catenin, a key control point in the WNT/β-catenin signaling pathway. Here, we report that WTX interacts with a second ubiquitin ligase adaptor, KEAP1, which functions to regulate the ubiquitination of the transcription factor NRF2, a key control point in the antioxidant response. Surprisingly, we find that unlike its ability to promote the ubiquitination of β-catenin, WTX inhibits the ubiquitination of NRF2. WTX and NRF2 compete for binding to KEAP1, and thus loss of WTX leads to rapid ubiquitination and degradation of NRF2 and a reduced response to cytotoxic insult. These results expand our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of WTX and reveal a novel regulatory mechanism governing the antioxidant response.
Antioxidants; Nrf2; Ubiquitin; Ubiquitination; BTRC; KEAP1; WTX
Keap1 and Cul3 constitute a unique ubiquitin E3 ligase that degrades Nrf2, a key activator of cytoprotective genes. Upon exposure to oxidants/electrophiles, the enzymatic activity of this ligase complex is inhibited and the complex fails to degrade Nrf2, resulting in the transcriptional activation of Nrf2 target genes. Keap1 possesses several reactive cysteine residues that covalently bond with electrophiles in vitro. To clarify the functional significance of each Keap1 cysteine residue under physiological conditions, we established a transgenic complementation rescue model. The transgenic expression of mutant Keap1(C273A) and/or Keap1(C288A) protein in Keap1 null mice failed to reverse constitutive Nrf2 activation, indicating that cysteine residues at positions 273 and 288 are essential for Keap1 to repress Nrf2 activity in vivo. In contrast, Keap1(C151S) retained repressor activity and mice expressing this molecule were viable. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts from Keap1(C151S) transgenic mice displayed decreased expression of Nrf2 target genes both before and after an electrophilic challenge, suggesting that Cys151 is important in facilitating Nrf2 activation. These results demonstrate critical roles of the cysteine residues in vivo in maintaining Keap1 function, such that Nrf2 is repressed under quiescent conditions and active in response to oxidants/electrophiles.
Targeting Nrf2 signaling appears to be an attractive approach for the treatment of maladaptive cardiac remodeling and dysfunction; however, pharmacological modulation of the Nrf2 pathway in the cardiovascular system remains to be established. Herein, we report that a novel synthetic triterpenoid derivative, dihydro-CDDO-trifluoroethyl amide (dh404), activates Nrf2 and suppresses oxidative stress in cardiomyocytes. Dh404 interrupted the Keap1-Cul3-Rbx1 E3 ligase complex-mediated Nrf2 ubiquitination and subsequent degradation saturating the binding capacity of Keap1 to Nrf2, thereby rendering more Nrf2 to be translocated into the nuclei to activate Nrf2-driven gene transcription. A mutant Keap1 protein containing a single cysteine-to-serine substitution at residue 151 within the BTB domain of Keap1 was resistant to dh404-induced stabilization of Nrf2 protein. In addition, dh404 did not dissociate the interaction of Nrf2 with the Keap1-Cul3-Rbx1 E3 ligase complex. Thus, it is likely that dh404 inhibits the ability of Keap1-Cul3-Rbx1 E3 ligase complex to target Nrf2 for ubiquitination and degradation via modifying Cys-151 of Keap1 to change the conformation of the complex. Moreover, dh404 was able to stabilize Nrf2 protein, to enhance Nrf2 nuclear translocation, to activate Nrf2-driven transcription, and to suppress angiotensin II (Ang II)-induced oxidative stress in cardiomyocytes. Knockdown of Nrf2 almost blocked the anti-oxidative effect of dh404. Dh404 activated Nrf2 signaling in the heart. Taken together, dh404 appears to be a novel Nrf2 activator with a therapeutic potential for cardiac diseases via suppressing oxidative stress.
The bZIP transcription factor Nrf2 has emerged as a pivotal regulator of intracellular redox homeostasis by controlling the expression of many endogenous antioxidants and phase II detoxification enzymes. Upon oxidative stress, Nrf2 is induced at protein levels through redox-sensitive modifications on cysteine residues of Keap1, a component of the E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets Nrf2 for ubiquitin-dependent degradation. The mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPKs) have previously been proposed to regulate Nrf2 in response to oxidative stress. However, the exact role of MAPKs and the underlying molecular mechanism remain poorly defined. Here we report the first evidence that Nrf2 is phosphorylated in vivo by MAPKs. We have identified multiple serine/threonine residues as major targets of MAPK-mediated phosphorylation. Combined alanine substitution on those residues leads to a moderate decrease in the transcriptional activity of Nrf2, most likely due to a slight reduction in its nuclear accumulation. More importantly, Nrf2 protein stability, primarily controlled by Keap1, is not altered by Nrf2 phosphorylation in vivo. These data indicate that direct phosphorylation of Nrf2 by MAPKs has limited contribution in modulating Nrf2 activity. We suggest that MAPKs regulate the Nrf2 signaling pathway mainly through indirect mechanisms.
Cullin RING E3 ligases require covalent modification with Nedd8 for activity. Neddylation is reversed by the COP9 signalosome (CSN). We characterize the role of CSN-dependent deneddylation in vivo and propose a model in which CSN binds to cullin ligases in their active conformation and functions to recruit important regulatory factors.
Cullin RING ligases (CRLs) are the largest family of cellular E3 ubiquitin ligases and mediate polyubiquitination of a number of cellular substrates. CRLs are activated via the covalent modification of the cullin protein with the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8. This results in a conformational change in the cullin carboxy terminus that facilitates the ubiquitin transfer onto the substrate. COP9 signalosome (CSN)-mediated cullin deneddylation is essential for CRL activity in vivo. However, the mechanism through which CSN promotes CRL activity in vivo is currently unclear. In this paper, we provide evidence that cullin deneddylation is not intrinsically coupled to substrate polyubiquitination as part of the CRL activation cycle. Furthermore, inhibiting substrate-receptor autoubiquitination is unlikely to account for the major mechanism through which CSN regulates CRL activity. CSN also did not affect recruitment of the substrate-receptor SPOP to Cul3, suggesting it may not function to facilitate the exchange of Cul3 substrate receptors. Our results indicate that CSN binds preferentially to CRLs in the neddylation-induced, active conformation. Binding of the CSN complex to active CRLs may recruit CSN-associated proteins important for CRL regulation. The deneddylating activity of CSN would subsequently promote its own dissociation to allow progression through the CRL activation cycle.