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1.  Distinct Cysteine Residues in Keap1 Are Required for Keap1-Dependent Ubiquitination of Nrf2 and for Stabilization of Nrf2 by Chemopreventive Agents and Oxidative Stress 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(22):8137-8151.
A common feature of diverse chemopreventive agents is the ability to activate expression of a genetic program that protects cells from reactive chemical species that, if left unchecked, would cause mutagenic DNA damage. The bZIP transcription factor Nrf2 has emerged as a key regulator of this cancer-preventive genetic program. Nrf2 is normally sequestered in the cytoplasm by a protein known as Keap1. Chemopreventive agents allow Nrf2 to escape from Keap1-mediated repression, although the molecular mechanism(s) responsible for activation of Nrf2 is not understood. In this report, we demonstrate that Keap1 does not passively sequester Nrf2 in the cytoplasm but actively targets Nrf2 for ubiquitination and degradation by the proteosome under basal culture conditions. We have identified two critical cysteine residues in Keap1, C273 and C288, that are required for Keap1-dependent ubiquitination of Nrf2. Both sulforaphane, a chemopreventive isothiocyanate, and oxidative stress enable Nrf2 to escape Keap1-dependent degradation, leading to stabilization of Nrf2, increased nuclear localization of Nrf2, and activation of Nrf2-dependent cancer-protective genes. We have identified a third cysteine residue in Keap1, C151, that is uniquely required for inhibition of Keap1-dependent degradation of Nrf2 by sulforaphane and oxidative stress. This cysteine residue is also required for a novel posttranslational modification to Keap1 that is induced by oxidative stress. We propose that Keap1 is a component of a novel E3 ubiquitin ligase complex that is specifically targeted for inhibition by both chemopreventive agents and oxidative stress.
doi:10.1128/MCB.23.22.8137-8151.2003
PMCID: PMC262403  PMID: 14585973
2.  Nrf2 Is a Direct PERK Substrate and Effector of PERK-Dependent Cell Survival 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(20):7198-7209.
Activation of PERK following the accumulation of unfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) promotes translation inhibition and cell cycle arrest. PERK function is essential for cell survival following exposure of cells to ER stress, but the mechanisms whereby PERK signaling promotes cell survival are not thoroughly understood. We have identified the Nrf2 transcription factor as a novel PERK substrate. In unstressed cells, Nrf2 is maintained in the cytoplasm via association with Keap1. PERK-dependent phosphorylation triggers dissociation of Nrf2/Keap1 complexes and inhibits reassociation of Nrf2/Keap1 complexes in vitro. Activation of PERK via agents that trigger the unfolded protein response is both necessary and sufficient for dissociation of cytoplasmic Nrf2/Keap1 and subsequent Nrf2 nuclear import. Finally, we demonstrate that cells harboring a targeted deletion of Nrf2 exhibit increased cell death relative to wild-type counterparts following exposure to ER stress. Our data demonstrate that Nrf2 is a critical effector of PERK-mediated cell survival.
doi:10.1128/MCB.23.20.7198-7209.2003
PMCID: PMC230321  PMID: 14517290

Results 1-2 (2)