Molecular basis for the contribution of the antioxidant responsive element to cancer chemoprevention

Cancer Lett. 2001 Dec 28;174(2):103-13. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(01)00695-4.


This article provides an overview of the mechanisms by which cancer chemopreventive blocking agents increase the expression of detoxication and antioxidant genes. These agents all appear capable of transcriptionally activating a gene battery that includes NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase, aldo-keto reductases, glutathione S-transferases, gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase, glutathione synthetase and heme oxygenase. Gene induction occurs through the antioxidant responsive element (ARE), a process that is dependent on the Nuclear Factor-Erythroid 2p45-related factors, Nrf1 and Nrf2. Under basal conditions, these basic region leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factors are located in the cytoplasm of the cell bound to Keap1, and upon challenge with inducing agents, they are released from Keap1 and translocate to the nucleus. Within the nucleus, Nrf1 and Nrf2 are recruited to the ARE as heterodimers with either small Maf proteins, FosB, c-Jun, JunD, activating transcription factor 2 (ATF2) or ATF4. The role of protein kinases in transducing chemical stress signals to the bZIP factors that affect gene induction through the ARE is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Leucine Zippers / physiology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Nuclear Respiratory Factor 1
  • Nuclear Respiratory Factors
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • NFE2L2 protein, human
  • NRF1 protein, human
  • Nuclear Respiratory Factor 1
  • Nuclear Respiratory Factors
  • Trans-Activators
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases