The NRF2-p97-NRF2 negative feedback loop

Redox Biol. 2023 Sep:65:102839. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2023.102839. Epub 2023 Aug 9.


p97 is a ubiquitin-targeted ATP-dependent segregase that regulates proteostasis, in addition to a variety of other cellular functions. Previously, we demonstrated that p97 negatively regulates NRF2 by extracting ubiquitylated NRF2 from the KEAP1-CUL3-RBX1 E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, facilitating proteasomal destruction. In the current study, we identified p97 as an NRF2-target gene that contains a functional ARE, indicating the presence of an NRF2-p97-NRF2 negative feedback loop that maintains redox homeostasis. Using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, we generated endogenous p97 ARE-mutated BEAS-2B cell lines. These p97 ARE-mutated cell lines exhibit altered expression of p97 and NRF2, as well as a compromised response to NRF2 inducers. Importantly, we also found a positive correlation between NRF2 activation and p97 expression in human cancer patients. Finally, using chronic arsenic-transformed cell lines, we demonstrated a synergistic effect of NRF2 and p97 inhibition in killing cancer cells with high NRF2 and p97 expression. Our study suggests dual upregulation of NRF2 and p97 occurs in certain types of cancers, suggesting that inhibition of both NRF2 and p97 could be a promising treatment strategy for stratified cancer patients.

Keywords: Arsenic; Cancer; Nrf2; Oxidative stress; Proteostasis; p97.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carrier Proteins* / metabolism
  • Cullin Proteins / metabolism
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Kelch-Like ECH-Associated Protein 1 / genetics
  • Kelch-Like ECH-Associated Protein 1 / metabolism
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2* / genetics
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2* / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cullin Proteins
  • Kelch-Like ECH-Associated Protein 1
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • NFE2L2 protein, human