Genetic disruption of the Nrf2 compromises cell-cycle progression by impairing GSH-induced redox signaling

Oncogene. 2008 Oct 2;27(44):5821-32. doi: 10.1038/onc.2008.188. Epub 2008 Jun 9.


Genetic disruption of Nrf2 greatly enhances susceptibility to prooxidant- and carcinogen-induced experimental models of various human disorders; but the mechanisms by which this transcription factor confers protection are unclear. Using Nrf2-proficient (Nrf2(+/+)) and Nrf2-deficient (Nrf2(-/-)) primary epithelial cultures as a model, we now show that Nrf2 deficiency leads to oxidative stress and DNA lesions, accompanied by impairment of cell-cycle progression, mainly G(2)/M-phase arrest. Both N-acetylcysteine and glutathione (GSH) supplementation ablated the DNA lesions and DNA damage-response pathways in Nrf2(-/-) cells; however only GSH could rescue the impaired colocalization of mitosis-promoting factors and the growth arrest. Akt activation was deregulated in Nrf2(-/-) cells, but GSH supplementation restored it. Inhibition of Akt signaling greatly diminished the GSH-induced Nrf2(-/-) cell proliferation and wild-type cell proliferation. GSH depletion impaired Akt signaling and mitosis-promoting factor colocalization in Nrf2(+/+) cells. Collectively, our findings uncover novel functions for Nrf2 in regulating oxidative stress-induced cell-cycle arrest, especially G(2)/M-checkpoint arrest, and proliferation, and GSH-regulated redox signaling and Akt are required for this process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Damage / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Glutathione / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Mitosis / drug effects
  • Mitosis / genetics*
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / genetics*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Nfe2l2 protein, mouse
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • ATM protein, human
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins
  • Atm protein, mouse
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Glutathione
  • Acetylcysteine