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Redox biology

Constitutive activation of Nrf2 induces a stable reductive state in the mouse myocardium.


PMID 28482326

Abstract

Redox homeostasis regulates key cellular signaling pathways in both physiology and pathology. The cell's antioxidant response provides a defense against oxidative stress and establishes a redox tone permissive for cell signaling. The molecular regulation of the well-known Keap1/Nrf2 system acts as sensor responding to changes in redox homeostasis and is poorly studied in the heart. Importantly, it is not yet known whether Nrf2 alone can serve as a master regulator of cellular redox homeostasis without compensation of the transcriptional regulation of antioxidant response element (ARE) genes through alternate mechanisms. Here, we addressed this question using cardiac-specific transgenic expression at two different levels of constitutively active nuclear erythroid related factor 2 (caNrf2) functioning independently of Keap1. The caNrf2 mice showed augmentation of glutathione (GSH), the key regulator of the cellular thiol redox state. The Trans-AM assay for Nrf2-binding to the antioxidant response element (ARE) showed a dose-dependent increase associated with upregulation of several major antioxidant genes and proteins. This was accompanied by a significant decrease in dihydroethidium staining and malondialdehyde (MDA) in the caNrf2-TG mice myocardium. Interestingly, caNrf2 gene-dosage dependent redox changes were noted resulting in generation of a multi-stage model of pro-reductive and reductive conditions in the myocardium of TG-low and TG-high mice, respectively. These data clearly show that Nrf2 levels alone are capable of serving as the master regulator of the ARE. These models provide an important platform to investigate the impact of the Nrf2 system independent of the need to regulate the activity of Keap1 and the consequent exposure to pro-oxidants or electrophiles, which have numerous off-target effects.

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