Identification of a Stable, Non-Canonically Regulated Nrf2 Form in Lung Cancer Cells

Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 May 15;10(5):786. doi: 10.3390/antiox10050786.


Nrf2 (nuclear factor erythroid 2 (NF-E2)-related factor 2) transcription factor is recognized for its pro-survival and cell protective role upon exposure to oxidative, chemical, or metabolic stresses. Nrf2 controls a number of cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, autophagy, lipid synthesis, and metabolism and glucose metabolism and is a target of activation in chronic diseases like diabetes, neurodegenerative, and inflammatory diseases. The dark side of Nrf2 is revealed when its regulation is imbalanced (e.g., via oncogene activation or mutations) and under such conditions constitutively active Nrf2 promotes cancerogenesis, metastasis, and radio- and chemoresistance. When there is no stress, Nrf2 is instantly degraded via Keap1-Cullin 3 (Cul3) pathway but despite this, cells exhibit a basal activation of Nrf2 target genes. It is yet not clear how Nrf2 maintains the expression of its targets under homeostatic conditions. Here, we found a stable 105 kDa Nrf2 form that is resistant to Keap1-Cul3-mediated degradation and translocates to the nucleus of lung cancer cells. RNA-Seq analysis indicate that it might originate from the exon 2 or exon 3-truncated transcripts. This stable 105 kDa Nrf2 form might help explain the constitutive activity of Nrf2 under normal cellular conditions.

Keywords: Nrf2 antibodies; Nrf2 detection; Nrf2 migration in SDS-PAGE.