Succinylation of a KEAP1 sensor lysine promotes NRF2 activation

Cell Chem Biol. 2023 Oct 19;30(10):1295-1302.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2023.07.014. Epub 2023 Aug 23.


Cross talk between metabolism and stress-responsive signaling is essential for maintaining cellular homeostasis. This cross talk is often achieved through covalent modification of proteins by endogenous, reactive metabolites that regulate key stress-responsive transcription factors like NRF2. Metabolites including methylglyoxal, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate, fumarate, and itaconate covalently modify sensor cysteines of the NRF2 repressor KEAP1, resulting in stabilization of NRF2 and activation of its cytoprotective transcriptional program. Here, we employed a shRNA-based screen targeting the enzymes of central carbon metabolism to identify additional regulatory nodes bridging metabolism to NRF2 activation. Succinic anhydride, increased by genetic depletion of the TCA cycle enzyme succinyl-CoA synthetase or by direct administration, results in N-succinylation of lysine 131 of KEAP1 to activate NRF2 signaling. This study identifies KEAP1 as capable of sensing reactive metabolites not only by several cysteine residues but also by a conserved lysine residue, indicating its potential to sense an expanded repertoire of reactive metabolic messengers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Kelch-Like ECH-Associated Protein 1 / genetics
  • Kelch-Like ECH-Associated Protein 1 / metabolism
  • Lysine* / metabolism
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2* / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Signal Transduction


  • Kelch-Like ECH-Associated Protein 1
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Lysine