The many functions of APE1/Ref-1: not only a DNA repair enzyme

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2009 Mar;11(3):601-20. doi: 10.1089/ars.2008.2194.


APE1/Ref-1 (APE1), the mammalian ortholog of Escherichia coli Xth, and a multifunctional protein possessing both DNA repair and transcriptional regulatory activities, has a pleiotropic role in controlling cellular response to oxidative stress. APE1 is the main apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease in eukaryotic cells, playing a central role in the DNA base excision repair pathway of all DNA lesions (uracil, alkylated and oxidized, and abasic sites), including single-strand breaks, and has also cotranscriptional activity by modulating genes expression directly regulated by either ubiquitous (i.e., AP-1, Egr-1, NFkappa-B, p53, and HIF) and tissue specific (i.e., PEBP-2, Pax-5 and -8, and TTF-1) transcription factors. In addition, it controls the intracellular redox state by inhibiting the reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. At present, information is still inadequate regarding the molecular mechanisms responsible for the coordinated control of its several activities. Both expression and/or subcellular localization are altered in several metabolic and proliferative disorders such as in tumors and aging. Here, we have attempted to coalesce the most relevant information concerning APE1's different functions in order to shed new light and to focus current and future studies to fully understand this unique molecule that is acquiring more and more interest and translational relevance in the field of molecular medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase / genetics
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology


  • Transcription Factors
  • APEX1 protein, human
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase