Fatty liver disease is associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes, and hepatic lipid accumulation may contribute to insulin resistance by a variety of mechanisms. Here we show that mice with liver-specific deletion of histone deacetylase 3 (Hdac3) display severe hepatosteatosis and, notably increased insulin sensitivity without changes in insulin signaling or body weight. Hdac3 deletion reroutes metabolic precursors towards lipid synthesis and storage within lipid droplets (LDs). Reduced hepatic glucose production in Hdac3-depleted liver is a result of the metabolic rerouting rather than due to inherently defective gluconeogenesis. The lipid-sequestering LDs-coating protein Perilipin 2 is markedly induced upon Hdac3 deletion and contributes to the development of both steatosis and improved tolerance to glucose. These findings suggest that the sequestration of hepatic lipids ameliorates insulin resistance, and establish Hdac3 as a pivotal epigenomic modifier that integrate signals from the circadian clock in regulation of hepatic intermediary metabolism.
Alcohol drinking is a known risk factor for oral cancer in humans. However, previous animal studies on the promoting effect of ethanol on oral carcinogenesis were inconclusive. It is necessary to develop an animal model with which the molecular mechanism of ethanol-related oral carcinogenesis may be elucidated in order to develop effective prevention strategies. In this study, mice were first treated with 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide (4NQO, 100μg/ml in drinking water) for 8 weeks, and then given water or ethanol (8%) as the sole drink for another 16 weeks. During the experiment, 8% ethanol was well tolerated by mice. The incidence of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) increased from 20% (8/41) to 43% (17/40; p<0.05). Expression of 5-lipoxygenase (5-Lox) and cyclooxygenase 2 (Cox-2) was increased in dysplasia and SCC of 4NQO-treated tongues, and further enhanced by ethanol. Using this mouse model, we further demonstrated that fewer cancers were induced in Alox5−/− mice, as were cell proliferation, inflammation, and angiogenesis in the tongue, as compared with Alox5+/+ mice. Interestingly, Cox-2 expression was induced by ethanol in knockout mice, while 5-Lox and leukotriene A4 hydrolase (LTA4H) expression and leukotriene B4 (LTB4) biosynthesis were dramatically reduced. Moreover, ethanol enhanced expression and nuclear localization of 5-Lox and stimulated LTB4 biosynthesis in human tongue SCC cells (SCC-15 and SCC-4) in vitro. In conclusion, this study clearly demonstrated that ethanol promoted 4NQO-induced oral carcinogenesis, at least in part, through further activation of the 5-Lox pathway of arachidonic acid metabolism.
Alcohol drinking; Ethanol; 4NQO; Oral cancer; 5-Lox
The third-generation of sequencing technologies produces sequence reads of 1000 bp or more that may contain high polymorphism information. However, most currently available sequence analysis tools are developed specifically for analyzing short sequence reads. While the traditional Smith-Waterman (SW) algorithm can be used to map long sequence reads, its naive implementation is computationally infeasible. We have developed a new Sequence mapping and Analyzing Program (SAP) that implements a modified version of SW to speed up the alignment process. In benchmarks with simulated and real exon sequencing data and a real E. coli genome sequence data generated by the third-generation sequencing technologies, SAP outperforms currently available tools for mapping short and long sequence reads in both speed and proportion of captured reads. In addition, it achieves high accuracy in detecting SNPs and InDels in the simulated data. SAP is available at https://github.com/davidsun/SAP.
Disruption of the circadian clock exacerbates metabolic diseases including obesity and diabetes. Here we show that histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) recruitment to the genome displays a circadian rhythm in mouse liver. Histone acetylation is inversely related to HDAC3 binding, and this rhythm is lost when HDAC3 is absent. Although amounts of HDAC3 are constant, its genomic recruitment in liver corresponds to the expression pattern of the circadian nuclear receptor Rev-erbα. Rev-erbα colocalizes with HDAC3 near genes regulating lipid metabolism, and deletion of HDAC3 or Rev-erbα in mouse liver causes hepatic steatosis. Thus, genomic recruitment of HDAC3 by Rev-erbα directs a circadian rhythm of histone acetylation and gene expression required for normal hepatic lipid homeostasis.
Men living in Fiji and drinking kava have low incidence of prostate cancer (PCa). However, the PCa incidence among Fijian men who had migrated to Australia, increased by 5.1-fold. We therefore examined the potential effects of kava root extracts and its active components (kavalactones and flavokawains) on PCa growth and androgen receptor (AR) expression. PCa cell lines (LNCaP, LAPC-4, 22Rv1, C4-2B, DU145 and PC-3) with different AR expression, and a transformed prostate myofibroblast cell line (WPMY-1), were treated with a commercial kava extract, kavalactones (kawain, 5′6′-dehydrokawain, yangonin, methysticin) and flavokawain B. Expression of AR and its target genes (PSA and TMPRSS2) was examined. Two novel patient-derived PCa xenograft models from high grade PCa specimens were established by implanting the specimens into nude mice and passing tumor pieces through subcutaneous injection in nude mice, and then treated with kava extract and flavokawain B to examine their effects on tumor growth, AR expression and serum PSA levels. The kava extract and flavokawain B effectively down-regulated the expression of both the full-length AR and AR splice variants. The kava extract and kavalactones accelerated AR protein degradation, while flavokawain B inhibited AR mRNA transcription via decreasing Sp1 expression and the binding of Sp1 to the AR promoter. The kava root extract and flavokawain B reduce tumor growth, AR expression in tumor tissues and levels of serum PSA in the patient-derived PCa xenograft models. These results suggest a potential usefulness of a safe kava product or its active components for prevention and treatment of advanced PCa by targeting AR.
Trans-resveratrol rather than its biotransformed monosulfate metabolite exerts anti-medulloblastoma effects by suppressing STAT3 activation. Nevertheless, its effects on human glioblastoma cells are variable due to certain unknown reason(s).
Citing resveratrol-sensitive UW228-3 medulloblastoma cell line and primarily cultured rat brain cells/PBCs as controls, the effect of resveratrol on LN-18 human glioblastoma cells and its relevance with metabolic pattern(s), brain-associated sulfotransferase/SULT expression and the statuses of STAT3 signaling and protein inhibitor of activated STAT3 (PIAS3) were elucidated by multiple experimental approaches. Meanwhile, the expression patterns of three SULTs (SULT1A1, 1C2 and 4A1) in human glioblastoma tumors were profiled immunohistochemically. The results revealed that 100 µM resveratrol-treated LN-18 generated the same metabolites as UW228-3 cells, while additional metabolite in molecular weight of 403.0992 in negative ion mode was found in PBCs. Neither growth arrest nor apoptosis was found in resveratrol-treated LN-18 and PBC cells. Upon resveratrol treatment, the levels of SULT1A1, 1C2 and 4A1 expression in LN-18 cells were more up-regulated than that expressed in UW228-3 cells and close to the levels in PBCs. Immunohistochemical staining showed that 42.0%, 27.1% and 19.6% of 149 glioblastoma cases produced similar SULT1A1, 1C2 and 4A1 levels as that of tumor-surrounding tissues. Unlike the situation in UW228-3 cells, STAT3 signaling remained activated and its protein inhibitor PIAS3 was restricted in the cytosol of resveratrol-treated LN-18 cells. No nuclear translocation of STAT3 and PIAS3 was observed in resveratrol-treated PBCs. Treatment with STAT3 chemical inhibitor, AG490, committed majority of LN-18 and UW228-3 cells but not PBCs to apoptosis within 48 hours.
LN-18 glioblastoma cells are insensitive to resveratrol due to the more inducible brain-associated SULT expression, insufficiency of resveratrol to suppress activated STAT3 signaling and the lack of PIAS3 nuclear translocation. The findings from PBCs suggest that an effective anticancer dose of resveratrol exerts little side effect on normal brain cells.
The transcription factor Nrf2 has emerged as a master regulator of cellular redox homeostasis. As an adaptive response to oxidative stress, Nrf2 activates the transcription of a battery of genes encoding antioxidants, detoxification enzymes, and xenobiotic transporters by binding the cis-antioxidant response element in the promoter regions of genes. The magnitude and duration of inducible Nrf2 signaling is delicately controlled at multiple levels by Keap1, which targets Nrf2 for redox-sensitive ubiquitin-mediated degradation in the cytoplasm and exports Nrf2 from the nucleus. However, it is not clear how Keap1 gains access to the nucleus. In this study, we show that Keap1 is constantly shuttling between the nucleus and the cytoplasm under physiological conditions. The nuclear import of Keap1 requires its C-terminal Kelch domain and is independent of Nrf1 and Nrf2. We have determined that importin α7, also known as karyopherin α6 (KPNA6), directly interacts with the Kelch domain of Keap1. Overexpression of KPNA6 facilitates Keap1 nuclear import and attenuates Nrf2 signaling, whereas knockdown of KPNA6 slows down Keap1 nuclear import and enhances the Nrf2-mediated adaptive response induced by oxidative stress. Furthermore, KPNA6 accelerates the clearance of Nrf2 protein from the nucleus during the postinduction phase, therefore promoting restoration of the Nrf2 protein to basal levels. These findings demonstrate that KPNA6-mediated Keap1 nuclear import plays an essential role in modulating the Nrf2-dependent antioxidant response and maintaining cellular redox homeostasis.
This paper aims to investigate the effects of artesunate (ART) on growth and apoptosis in human osteosarcoma HOS cell line in vitro and in vivo and to explore the possible underlying mechanisms. Cell viability was measured by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. The induction of apoptosis was detected by light and transmission electron microscopy and flow cytometry. Western blot analysis was used to investigate the related mechanisms. Nude mice were further employed to investigate the antitumour activity of ART in vivo. MTT assay results demonstrated that ART selectively inhibits the growth of HOS cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Based on the findings of light and transmission electron microscopy, Hoechst 33258 staining, and fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-annexin V staining, the cytotoxicity of ART in HOS cells occurs through apoptosis. With ART treatment, cytosolic cytochrome c was increased, Bax expression was gradually upregulated, Bcl-2 expression was downregulated, and caspase-9 and caspase-3 were activated. Thus, the intrinsic apoptotic pathway may be involved in ART-induced apoptosis. Cell cycle analysis by flow cytometry indicated that ART may induce cell cycle arrest at G2/M phase. In nude mice bearing HOS xenograft tumours, ART inhibited tumour growth and regulated the expressions of cleaved caspase-3 and survivin, in agreement with in vitro observations. ART has a selective antitumour activity against human osteosarcoma HOS cells, which may be related to its effects on induction of apoptosis via the intrinsic pathway. The results suggest that ART is a promising candidate for the treatment of osteosarcoma.
Artesunate; Human osteosarcoma HOS cells; Apoptosis; Cell cycle; Nude mice; Chemotherapy
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 obese spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHROB) is a model of marked insulin resistance with normoglycemia. We sought to determine whether insulin resistance extends to adipocytes and the impact of an insulin-sensitizing imidazoline, moxonidine (4 mg/kg/days for 21 days). Gonadal adipocytes were isolated from SHROB and lean spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) littermates. In lean SHR adipocytes, Akt activation by 100 nM insulin peaked at 3 min at 25-fold, whereas SHROB adipocytes showed only 4-fold activation. In dose-response experiments, the maximal response (Emax) was markedly reduced 18.8 ± 2.3 versus 3.7 ± 0.8. Insulin sensitivity was also attenuated, with higher concentrations required for responses (EC50 = 3.5 ± 0.5 versus 29 ± 3.8 nM). Glucose uptake as determined with [3H]2-deoxyglucose was also less responsive to insulin in SHROB relative to lean SHR. Moxonidine had little or no effect when applied acutely in vitro, but adipocytes isolated from SHROB treated with moxonidine in vivo showed significantly improved responses to insulin, both in terms of Akt activation and facilitation of glucose uptake. Chronic but not acute moxonidine treatment partially restores insulin sensitivity in SHROB adipocytes, suggesting an indirect action of this agent.
In response to oxidative stress, Nrf2 and p21 Cip1/WAF1 are both upregulated to protect cells from oxidative damage. Nrf2 is constantly ubiquitinated by a Keap1 dimer that interacts with a weak-binding 29DLG motif and a strong-binding 79ETGE motif in Nrf2, resulting in degradation of Nrf2. Modification of the redox-sensitive cysteine residues on Keap1 disrupts the Keap1-29DLG binding, leading to diminished Nrf2 ubiquitination and activation of the antioxidant response. However, the underlying mechanism by which p21 protects cells from oxidative damage remains unclear. Here, we present molecular and genetic evidence suggesting that the antioxidant function of p21 is mediated through activation of Nrf2 by stabilizing the Nrf2 protein. The 154KRR motif in p21 directly interacts with the 29DLG and 79ETGE motifs in Nrf2, and thus, competes with Keap1 for Nrf2 binding, compromising ubiquitination of Nrf2. Furthermore, the physiological significance of our findings was demonstrated in vivo using p21-deficient mice.
Our group has already published the possible neuroprotective effect of contralateral forepaw stimulation in temporary focal ischemia in a study. However, the background is still unclear. In the present study we investigated the possible mechanism by monitoring focal ischemia with multispectral [laser speckle, imaging of intrinsic signals (OIS)] imaging. Sprague–Dawley rats were prepared using 1.2% isoflurane anesthesia. The middle cerebral artery was occluded by photothrombosis (4 mW) and the common carotid artery was ligated permanently. Physiological variables were constantly monitored during the experiment. A 6 × 6 mm area centered 3 mm posterior and 4 mm lateral to Bregma was thinned for laser speckle and OIS imaging. Nine circular regions of interests (0.3 mm in diameter) were evenly spaced on the speckle contrast image for the analysis of peri-infarct flow transients, blood flow, and metabolic changes. Both the sham (n = 7) and forepaw-stimulated animals (n = 7) underwent neurological examinations 24 h after ischemia at which point all animals were sacrificed and the infarct size was determined by triphenyltetrazolium chloride. The physiological variables were in normal range and the experimental protocol did not cause significant differences between groups. Both the neurological scores (sham: 3.6 ± 1.7, stimulated: 4.3 ± 1.4) and the infarct volume (sham: 124 ± 39 mm3, stimulated: 147 ± 47 mm3) did not show significant differences between groups. The forepaw stimulation did not increase the intra-ischemic flow neither over the penumbral or the peri-ischemic area. However, the hemoglobin transients related metabolic load (CMRO2) was significantly lower (p < 0.001) while the averaged number of hyperemic flow transients were significantly (p = 0.013) higher in the forepaw (sham: 3.5 ± 2.2, stimulated: 7.0 ± 2.3) stimulated animals.
optical imaging; focal cerebral ischemia; forepaw stimulation; middle cerebral artery occlusion; photothrombosis; speckle contrast; OIS; flow transients
To maintain intracellular redox homeostasis, genes encoding many antioxidants and detoxification enzymes are transcriptionally upregulated upon deleterious oxidative stress through the cis antioxidant responsive elements (AREs) in their promoter regions. Nrf2 is the critical transcription factor responsible for ARE-dependent transcription. We and others have previously demonstrated that Nrf2 is targeted for ubiquitin-mediated degradation by Keap1 in a redox-sensitive manner through modifications of distinct cysteine residues of Keap1. Here, we report that p300/CBP directly acetylates Nrf2 in response to arsenite-induced stress. We have identified multiple acetylated lysine residues within the Nrf2 Neh1 DNA-binding domain. Combined lysine-to-arginine mutations on the acetylation sites, with no effects on Nrf2 protein stability, compromised the DNA-binding activity of Nrf2 in a promoter-specific manner. These findings demonstrated that acetylation of Nrf2 by p300/CBP augments promoter-specific DNA binding of Nrf2 and established acetylation as a novel regulatory mechanism that functions in concert with Keap1-mediated ubiquitination in modulating the Nrf2-dependent antioxidant response.
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.
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.
Drinking water contaminated with arsenic, a human carcinogen, is a worldwide health issue. An understanding of cellular signaling events in response to arsenic exposure and rational designing of strategies to reduce arsenic damages by modulating signaling events are important to fight against arsenic-induced diseases. Previously, we reported that activation of the Nrf2-mediated cellular defense pathway confers protection against toxic effects induced by sodium arsenite [As(III)] or monomethylarsonous acid [MMA(III)]. Paradoxically, arsenic has been reported to induce the Nrf2-dependent signaling pathway. Here, we report the unique mechanism of Nrf2 induction by arsenic. Similar to tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) or sulforaphane (SF), arsenic induced the Nrf2-dependent response through enhancing Nrf2 protein levels by inhibiting Nrf2 ubiquitination and degradation. However, the detailed action of arsenic in Nrf2 induction is different from that of tBHQ or SF. Arsenic markedly enhanced the interaction between Keap1 and Cul3, subunits of the E3 ubiquitin ligase for Nrf2, which led to impaired dynamic assembly/disassembly of the E3 ubiquitin ligase and thus decreased its ligase activity. Furthermore, induction of Nrf2 by arsenic is independent of the previously identified C151 residue in Keap1 that is required for Nrf2 activation by tBHQ or SF. Distinct mechanisms of Nrf2 activation by seemingly harmful and beneficial reagents provide a molecular basis to design Nrf2-activating agents for therapeutic intervention.
Objective: The age-related change is important part of degenerative disc disease. However, no appropriate animal model or objective evaluation index is available. This study aimed to investigate the features of intervertebral disc degeneration in aging process of rats. Methods: 22-month-old Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were used as spontaneously occurring intervertebral disc degeneration models and 6-month-old rats as young controls. Expression of collagen types II and X was measured by immunohistochemistry. Degenerations of intervertebral discs were scored according to Miyamoto’s method. Numbers and areas of afferent vascular buds were measured. The thicknesses of non-calcified and calcified layers were measured and statistically analyzed. Results: There were less collagen type II expression and more collagen type X expression in the calcified layer of the cartilage endplates and nucleus pulposus in the rats of the aged group than in the young control. There were fewer and smaller afferent vascular buds in the rats of the aged group than in the young control group. The ratio of the non-calcified to the calcified layers in the rats of the aged group significantly decreased, compared with that of the young control group (P<0.01). Conclusion: Rats can spontaneously establish intervertebral disc age-related degeneration. The expression of collagen types II and X, numbers and areas of afferent vascular buds, the ratio of the non-calcified to the calcified layers, and water and glycosaminoglycan contents in the nucleus pulposus are sensitive indexes of intervertebral disc degeneration.
Intervertebral disc; Degeneration; Afferent vascular bud; Calcified layer; Aged
Oral cancer is a common neoplasm worldwide with tobacco and alcohol being the major etiological factors contributing to its pathogenesis. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and ErbB2 are known to be involved in the development of oral cancer with the former up-regulated in up to 90% human cases. The goal of this study was to evaluate the chemopreventive effects of a dual inhibitor of EGFR and ErbB2 tyrosine kinases, GW2974, in the 7, 12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced hamster cheek pouch model. A short-term experiment (3-week topical DMBA followed by 1-week topical GW2974) was conducted to examine the effects of GW2974 on aberrant arachidonic acid (AA) metabolism and cell proliferation in the hamster oral epithelium. Topical application of 0.1ml GW2974 (160 µM, three times a week) significantly reduced the levels of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), leukotriene B4 (LTB4), 5-, 12-, 15-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (HETE), and cell proliferation (BrdU-labeling index). In a long-term post-initiation experiment (6-week topical DMBA followed by 18-week topical GW2974), GW2974 (4mM and 8mM) significantly inhibited the incidence, number and size of visible tumors. Under microscope, the numbers of oral lesions (hyperplasia, dysplasia, carcinoma) and the incidence of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) were also significantly suppressed by GW2974. In summary, our study indicated that dual inhibition of EGFR and ErbB2 tyrosine kinases by GW2974 was effective in preventing oral carcinogenesis in DMBA-induced hamster cheek pouch model. GW2974 exerted its chemopreventive effects in part by suppressing aberrant AA metabolism.
Oral cancer; EGFR; DMBA; GW2974
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.
Arsenic is widely spread in our living environment and imposes a big challenge on human health worldwide. Arsenic damages biological systems through multiple mechanisms including the generation of reactive oxygen species. The transcription factor Nrf2 regulates the cellular antioxidant response that protects cells from various insults. In this study, the protective role of Nrf2 in arsenic toxicity was investigated in a human bladder urothelial cell line, UROtsa. Using an UROtsa cell line stably infected with Nrf2-siRNA, we clearly demonstrate that compromised Nrf2 expression sensitized the cells to As(III)- and MMA(III)-induced toxicity. On the other hand, the activation of the Nrf2 pathway by tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) and sulforaphane (SF), the known Nrf2-inducers, rendered UROtsa cells more resistant to As(III)- and MMA(III). Furthermore, the wild type mouse embryo fibroblast (WT-MEF) cells were protected from As(III)- and MMA(III)-induced toxicity following Nrf2 activation by tBHQ or SF whereas neither tBHQ nor SF conferred protection in the Nrf2−/−-MEF cells, demonstrating that tBHQ- or SF-mediated protection against As(III)- and MMA(III)-induced toxicity depends on Nrf2 activation. These results, obtained by both loss of function and gain of function analyses, clearly demonstrate the protective role of Nrf2 in arsenic-induced toxicity. The current work lays the groundwork for using Nrf2 activators for therapeutic and dietary interventions against adverse effects of arsenic.
Nrf2; Keap1; arsenic; arsenite; MMA(III); UROtsa
Groundwater contaminated with arsenic imposes a big challenge to human health worldwide. Using natural compounds to subvert the detrimental effects of arsenic represents an attractive strategy. The transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a critical regulator of the cellular antioxidant response and xenobiotic metabolism. Recently, activation of the Nrf2 signaling pathway has been reported to confer protection against arsenic-induced toxicity in a cell culture model.
The goal of the present work was to identify a potent Nrf2 activator from plants as a chemopreventive compound and to demonstrate the efficacy of the compound in battling arsenic-induced toxicity.
Oridonin activated the Nrf2 signaling pathway at a low subtoxic dose and was able to stabilize Nrf2 by blocking Nrf2 ubiquitination and degradation, leading to accumulation of the Nrf2 protein and activation of the Nrf2-dependent cytoprotective response. Pretreatment of UROtsa cells with 1.4 μM oridonin significantly enhanced the cellular redox capacity, reduced formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and improved cell survival after arsenic challenge.
We identified oridonin as representing a novel class of Nrf2 activators and illustrated the mechanism by which the Nrf2 pathway is activated. Furthermore, we demonstrated the feasibility of using natural compounds targeting Nrf2 as a therapeutic approach to protect humans from various environmental insults that may occur daily.
antioxidant responsive element; antitumor; ARE; arsenic; chemoprevention; diterpenoid; Keap1; Nrf2; oridonin; oxidative stress; rubescensin
The 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.