Author(s): Velichkova M, Hasson T
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Abstract Keap1 is a negative regulator of Nrf2, a transcription factor essential for antioxidant response element (ARE)-mediated gene expression. We find that Keap1 sequesters Nrf2 in the cytoplasm, not by docking it to the actin cytoskeleton but instead through an active Crm1/exportin-dependent nuclear export mechanism. Deletion and mutagenesis studies identified a nuclear export signal (NES) in the intervening region of Keap1 comprised of hydrophobic leucine and isoleucine residues in agreement with a traditional NES consensus sequence. Mutation of the hydrophobic amino acids resulted in nuclear accumulation of both Keap1 and Nrf2, as did treatment with the drug leptomycin B, which inactivates Crm1/exportin. ARE genes were partially activated under these conditions, suggesting that additional oxidation-sensitive elements are required for full activation of the antioxidant response. Based on these data, we propose a new model for regulation of Nrf2 by Keap1. Under normal conditions, Keap1 and Nrf2 are complexed in the cytoplasm where they are targeted for degradation. Oxidative stress inactivates Keap1's NES, allowing entry of both Keap1 and Nrf2 into the nucleus and transcriptional transactivation of ARE genes.
This article was published in Mol Cell Biol
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism