The Clinicopathological and Prognostic Significance of Nrf2 and Keap1 Expression in Hepatocellular Carcinoma.
ABSTRACT: Nuclear factor E2-related factor2 (Nrf2) activation is associated with both cytoprotective effects and malignant behavior of cancer cells. This study aimed to evaluate the clinicopathological implications of the expression of Nrf2, pNrf2, and its regulator Keap1 in human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). Tissue microarrays consisting of 285 surgically resected HCCs were immunohistochemically stained with pNrf2, Nrf2, Keap1, stemness-related markers (keratin 19 (K19), epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM)), carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX), epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related markers (ezrin, uPAR, E-cadherin), and p53, and the results were correlated with the clinicopathological features. pNrf2 expression was significantly associated with increased proliferative activity, as well as EpCAM, ezrin, p53, and CAIX expression and E-cadherin loss (p < 0.05, all). Strong cytoplasmic Nrf2 expression was associated with CAIX and ezrin expression (p < 0.05, both). Keap1 was associated with increased proliferative activity, portal vein invasion, EMT-related markers, and p53 expression in CAIX-negative HCCs (p < 0.05, all). Both pNrf2 and cytoplasmic Nrf2 expression were associated with decreased overall survival (p < 0.05, both), and cytoplasmic Nrf2 expression was an independent predictor of decreased overall survival on multivariate analysis (hazard ratio 4.15, p < 0.001). Both pNrf2 and cytoplasmic Nrf2 expression were associated with poor survival and aggressive behavior of HCC. In addition, Keap1 expression was also associated with aggressive HCC behavior in CAIX-negative HCCs, suggesting that Keap1 expression should be interpreted in the context of hypoxia status.
Project description:In this paper, variation tendency of phosphorylated Nrf2, as the activated form of native Nrf2, was studied in 107 primary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) specimens treated by curative hepatectomy. Moreover, the coexpression of oxidative stress markers Keap1 and pNrf2, and their association with pathological features were also evaluated based on those specimens. The results showed that preserved cytoplasmic Keap1 expression of cancer cells was observed in 59 HCCs, while reduced Keap1 expression was determined in remaining 48 ones. With regarding to nuclear pNrf2 expression, 75 HCCs were defined as high and the other 32 ones as low. There was a significant association between Keap1 and pNrf2 expression in HCCs. Higher pNrf2 expression was observed, at a more substantial proportion, in those specimens with reduced Keap1 expression, compared to those with preserved Keap1 expression. The subset with higher pNrf2 and reduced Keap1 expression was defined as pNrf2+ Keap1- . According to the analysis of prognosis, this subset was significantly associated with poor 5-year overall survival and worse disease-free survival in HCCs, indicating that pNrf2 and Keap1 were two-functional biomolecules, not only the oxidative stress markers but also biomarkers for prognosis of HCCs.
Project description:Oxidative stress is a major risk factor for acute pancreatitis. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) mediate expression of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) which reflects the severity of acute pancreatitis. The nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway is activated to induce the expression of antioxidant enzymes such as NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) as a cytoprotective response to oxidative stress. In addition, binding of Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) to Nrf2 promotes degradation of Nrf2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-an omega-3 fatty acid-exerts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Oxidized omega-3 fatty acids react with Keap1 to induce Nrf2-regulated gene expression. In this study, we investigated whether DHA reduces ROS levels and inhibits IL-6 expression via Nrf2 signaling in pancreatic acinar (AR42J) cells stimulated with cerulein, as an in vitro model of acute pancreatitis. The cells were pretreated with or without DHA for 1 h and treated with cerulein (10-8 M) for 1 (ROS levels, protein levels of NQO1, HO-1, pNrf2, Nrf2, and Keap1), 6 (IL-6 mRNA expression), and 24 h (IL-6 protein level in the medium). Our results showed that DHA upregulates the expression of NQO1 and HO-1 in cerulein-stimulated AR42J cells by promoting phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of Nrf2. DHA increased interaction between Keap1 and Nrf2 in AR42J cells, which may increase Nrf2 activity by inhibiting Keap1-mediated sequestration of Nrf2. In addition, DHA-induced expression of NQO1 and HO-1 is related to reduction of ROS and IL-6 levels in cerulein-stimulated AR42J cells. In conclusion, DHA inhibits ROS-mediated IL-6 expression by upregulating Nrf2-mediated expression of NQO1 and HO-1 in cerulein-stimulated pancreatic acinar cells. DHA may exert positive modulatory effects on acute pancreatitis by inhibiting oxidative stress and inflammatory cytokine production by activating Nrf2 signaling in pancreatic acinar cells.
Project description:Integrated-systems model of oxidative stress connecting NRF2 and p53 signaling pathways. Additional crosstalk linking oxidative stress to p53 inhibition, p53 to NRF2 through p21, and NRF2 to MDM2 was incorporated in this model. The NRF2 pathway was encoded as first- and second-order rate equations for KEAP1 oxidation and NRF2 stabilization; NRF2-mediated transcription of antioxidant enzymes was modeled as a Hill function. The p53 pathway was reconstructed from a delay differential equation model of p53 signaling in response to DNA damage. To adapt the p53 DNA-damage model to respond to oxidative stress, we used a first-order oxidation reaction of ATM/CHEK2 by intracellular H2O2.
The integrated base model of NRF2–p53 oxidative-stress signaling contains 42 reactions and 22 ordinary differential equations (ODEs).
Project description:Animal cells counteract oxidative stress and electrophilic attack through coordinated expression of a set of detoxifying and antioxidant enzyme genes mediated by transcription factor Nrf2. In unstressed cells, Nrf2 appears to be sequestered in the cytoplasm via association with an inhibitor protein, Keap1. Here, by using the yeast two-hybrid screen, human Keap1 has been identified as a partner of the nuclear protein prothymosin alpha. The in vivo and in vitro data indicated that the prothymosin alpha-Keap1 interaction is direct, highly specific, and functionally relevant. Furthermore, we showed that Keap1 is a nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling protein equipped with a nuclear export signal that is important for its inhibitory action. Prothymosin alpha was able to liberate Nrf2 from the Nrf2-Keap1 inhibitory complex in vitro through competition with Nrf2 for binding to the same domain of Keap1. In vivo, the level of Nrf2-dependent transcription was correlated with the intracellular level of prothymosin alpha by using prothymosin alpha overproduction and mRNA interference approaches. Our data attribute to prothymosin alpha the role of intranuclear dissociator of the Nrf2-Keap1 complex, thus revealing a novel function for prothymosin alpha and adding a new dimension to the molecular mechanisms underlying expression of oxidative stress-protecting genes.
Project description:Activation of the Nrf2-Keap1 pathway, the main intracellular defense against environmental stress, has been observed in several human cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here, we assessed whether distinct mechanisms of activation may be involved at different stages of hepatocarcinogenesis. We adopted an experimental model consisting of treatment with diethylnitrosamine (DENA) followed by a choline-devoid methionine-deficient (CMD) diet for 4 months. The CMD diet was then replaced with a basal diet, and the animals were killed at 6, 10 or 13 months after DENA injection. Nrf2 activation occurred at early steps of hepatocarcinogenesis and persisted throughout the tumorigenic process. While Nrf2 mutations were extremely frequent at early steps (90%), their incidence diminished with the progression to malignancy (25%). Conversely, while p62 was almost undetectable in early nodules, its accumulation occurred in HCCs, suggesting that Nrf2 pathway activation at late stages is mainly due to Keap1 sequestration by p62. We demonstrate that, in a model of hepatocarcinogenesis resembling human non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Nrf2 mutations are the earliest molecular changes responsible for the activation of the Nrf2-Keap1 pathway. The progressive loss of mutations associated with a concomitant p62 accumulation implies that distinct mechanisms are responsible for Nrf2-Keap1 pathway activation at different stages of hepatocarcinogenesis.
Project description:To understand the role of nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we studied their expression in a large series of tumors with annotated clinicopathologic data, including response to platinum-based adjuvant chemotherapy.We determined the immunohistochemical expression of nuclear Nrf2 and cytoplasmic Keap1 in 304 NSCLCs and its association with patients' clinicopathologic characteristics, and in 89 tumors from patients who received neoadjuvant (n = 26) or adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy (n = 63). We evaluated NFE2L2 and KEAP1 mutations in 31 tumor specimens.We detected nuclear Nrf2 expression in 26% of NSCLCs; it was significantly more common in squamous cell carcinomas (38%) than in adenocarcinomas (18%; P < 0.0001). Low or absent Keap1 expression was detected in 56% of NSCLCs; it was significantly more common in adenocarcinomas (62%) than in squamous cell carcinomas (46%; P = 0.0057). In NSCLC, mutations of NFE2L2 and KEAP1 were very uncommon (2 of 29 and 1 of 31 cases, respectively). In multivariate analysis, Nrf2 expression was associated with worse overall survival [P = 0.0139; hazard ratio (HR), 1.75] in NSCLC patients, and low or absent Keap1 expression was associated with worse overall survival (P = 0.0181; HR, 2.09) in squamous cell carcinoma. In univariate analysis, nuclear Nrf2 expression was associated with worse recurrence-free survival in squamous cell carcinoma patients who received adjuvant treatment (P = 0.0410; HR, 3.37).Increased expression of Nrf2 and decreased expression of Keap1 are common abnormalities in NSCLC and are associated with a poor outcome. Nuclear expression of Nrf2 in malignant lung cancer cells may play a role in resistance to platinum-based treatment in squamous cell carcinoma.
Project description:Nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a key transcription factor that regulates the expression of a number of antioxidant and detoxifying genes that provide cellular protection against various stressors including reactive oxygen species (ROS). Nrf2 activity is tightly regulated by a cytoplasmic inhibitory protein called Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1). The mechanism that controls Keap1 expression, however, remains poorly understood. In the present study, we demonstrate that microRNA-7 (miR-7), which is highly expressed in the brain, represses Keap1 expression by targeting the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of its mRNA in human neuroblastoma cells, SH-SY5Y. Subsequently, this event results in an increased Nrf2 activity, as evidenced by an increase in the expression of its transcriptional targets, heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) and glutamate-cysteine ligase modifier subunit (GCLM), and an enhanced nuclear localization of Nrf2. In addition, miR-7 decreases the intracellular hydroperoxides level and increases the level of reduced form of glutathione, indicative of oxidative stress relief. We also demonstrate that targeted repression of Keap1 and activation of Nrf2 pathway, in part, underlies the protective effects of miR-7 against 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+)-induced toxicity in SH-SY5Y and differentiated human neural progenitor cells, ReNcell VM. These findings point to a new mechanism by which miR-7 exerts cytoprotective effects by regulating the Nrf2 pathway.
Project description:Loss of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) signaling increases susceptibility to acute toxicity, inflammation and carcinogenesis in mice due to the inability to mount adaptive responses. In contrast, disruption of Keap1 (a cytoplasmic modifier of Nrf2 turnover) protects against these stresses in mice, although inactivating mutations in Keap1 have been identified recently in some human cancers. Global characterization of Nrf2 activation is important to exploit this pathway for chemoprevention in healthy, yet at-risk individuals and also to elucidate the consequences of hijacking the pathway in Keap1-mutant human cancers. Liver-targeted conditional Keap1-null, Albumin-Cre:Keap1((flox/-)) (CKO) mice provide a model of genetic activation of Nrf2 signaling. By coupling global gene expression analysis of CKO mice with analysis of pharmacologic activation using the synthetic oleanane triterpenoid 1-[2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oyl]imidazole (CDDO-Im), we are able to gain insight into pathways affected by Nrf2 activation. CDDO-Im is an extremely potent activator of Nrf2 signaling. CKO mice were used to identify genes modulated by genetic activation of Nrf2 signaling. The CKO response was compared with hepatic global gene expression changes in wild-type mice treated with CDDO-Im at a maximal Nrf2 activating dose. The results show that genetic and pharmacologic activation of Nrf2 signaling modulates pathways beyond detoxication and cytoprotection, with the largest cluster of genes associated with lipid metabolism. Genetic activation of Nrf2 results in much larger numbers of detoxication and lipid metabolism gene changes. Additionally, analysis of pharmacologic activation suggests that Nrf2 is the primary mediator of CDDO-Im activity, though other cell-signaling targets are also modulated following an oral dose of 30 micromol/kg.
Project description:The cytoplasmic repressor Keap1 regulates the function of transcription factor Nrf2 which plays critical roles in oxidative and xenobiotic stresses. The Neh2 domain of Nrf2 interacts with Keap1 at the bottom region of the Kelch/beta-propeller domain which is formed by double-glycine repeat and C-terminal region domains (Keap1-DC). The structure of Keap1-DC complexed with an Nrf2 peptide containing a conserved DLG motif has been determined at 1.9 A resolution. The Keap1-bound DLG peptide possesses a hairpin conformation, and it binds to the Keap1 protein at the bottom region of the beta-propeller domain. The intermolecular interaction occurs through their complementary electrostatic interactions. Comparison of the present structure with the recently reported Keap1-DC complex structure suggests that the DLG and ETGE motifs of Neh2 in Nrf2 bind to Keap1 in a similar manner but with different binding potencies.
Project description: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.