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    Keap1, the cysteine-based mammalian intracellular sensor for electrophiles and oxidants. Dinkova-Kostova Albena T,Kostov Rumen V,Canning Peter Archives of biochemistry and biophysics The Kelch-like ECH associated protein 1 (Keap1) is a component of a Cullin3-based Cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligase (CRL) multisubunit protein complex. Within the CRL, homodimeric Keap1 functions as the Cullin3 adaptor, and importantly, it is also the critical component of the E3 ligase that performs the substrate recognition. The best-characterized substrate of Keap1 is transcription factor NF-E2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2), which orchestrates an elaborate transcriptional program in response to environmental challenges caused by oxidants, electrophiles and pro-inflammatory agents, allowing adaptation and survival under stress conditions. Keap1 is equipped with reactive cysteine residues that act as sensors for endogenously produced and exogenously encountered small molecules (termed inducers), which have a characteristic chemical signature, reactivity with sulfhydryl groups. Inducers modify the cysteine sensors of Keap1 and impair its ability to target Nrf2 for ubiquitination and degradation. Consequently, Nrf2 accumulates, enters the nucleus and drives the transcription of its target genes, which encode a large network of cytoprotective proteins. Here we summarize the early studies leading to the prediction of the existence of Keap1, followed by the discovery of Keap1 as the main negative regulator of Nrf2. We then describe the available structural information on Keap1, its assembly with Cullin3, and its interaction with Nrf2. We also discuss the multiple cysteine sensors of Keap1 that allow for detection of a wide range of endogenous and environmental inducers, and provide fine-tuning and tight control of the Keap1/Nrf2 stress-sensing response. 10.1016/j.abb.2016.08.005
    KEAP1, a cysteine-based sensor and a drug target for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. Dayalan Naidu Sharadha,Dinkova-Kostova Albena T Open biology Redox imbalance and persistent inflammation are the underlying causes of most chronic diseases. Mammalian cells have evolved elaborate mechanisms for restoring redox homeostasis and resolving acute inflammatory responses. One prominent mechanism is that of inducing the expression of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other cytoprotective proteins, while also suppressing the production of pro-inflammatory mediators, through the activation of transcription factor nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 (NRF2). At homeostatic conditions, NRF2 is a short-lived protein, which avidly binds to Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1). KEAP1 functions as (i) a substrate adaptor for a Cullin 3 (CUL3)-based E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets NRF2 for ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation, and (ii) a cysteine-based sensor for a myriad of physiological and pharmacological NRF2 activators. Here, we review the intricate molecular mechanisms by which KEAP1 senses electrophiles and oxidants. Chemical modification of specific cysteine sensors of KEAP1 results in loss of NRF2-repressor function and alterations in the expression of NRF2-target genes that encode large networks of diverse proteins, which collectively restore redox balance and resolve inflammation, thus ensuring a comprehensive cytoprotection. We focus on the cyclic cyanoenones, the most potent NRF2 activators, some of which are currently in clinical trials for various pathologies characterized by redox imbalance and inflammation. 10.1098/rsob.200105
    Therapeutic targeting of the NRF2 and KEAP1 partnership in chronic diseases. Cuadrado Antonio,Rojo Ana I,Wells Geoffrey,Hayes John D,Cousin Sharon P,Rumsey William L,Attucks Otis C,Franklin Stephen,Levonen Anna-Liisa,Kensler Thomas W,Dinkova-Kostova Albena T Nature reviews. Drug discovery The transcription factor NF-E2 p45-related factor 2 (NRF2; encoded by NFE2L2) and its principal negative regulator, the E3 ligase adaptor Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1), are critical in the maintenance of redox, metabolic and protein homeostasis, as well as the regulation of inflammation. Thus, NRF2 activation provides cytoprotection against numerous pathologies including chronic diseases of the lung and liver; autoimmune, neurodegenerative and metabolic disorders; and cancer initiation. One NRF2 activator has received clinical approval and several electrophilic modifiers of the cysteine-based sensor KEAP1 and inhibitors of its interaction with NRF2 are now in clinical development. However, challenges regarding target specificity, pharmacodynamic properties, efficacy and safety remain. 10.1038/s41573-018-0008-x
    Structural basis of Keap1 interactions with Nrf2. Canning Peter,Sorrell Fiona J,Bullock Alex N Free radical biology & medicine Keap1 is a highly redox-sensitive member of the BTB-Kelch family that assembles with the Cul3 protein to form a Cullin-RING E3 ligase complex for the degradation of Nrf2. Oxidative stress disables Keap1, allowing Nrf2 protein levels to accumulate for the transactivation of critical stress response genes. Consequently, the Keap1-Nrf2 system is extensively pursued for the development of protein-protein interaction inhibitors that will stabilize Nrf2 for therapeutic effect in conditions of neurodegeneration, inflammation, and cancer. Here we review current progress toward the structure determination of Keap1 and its protein complexes with Cul3, Nrf2 substrate, and small-molecule antagonists. Together the available structures establish a rational three-dimensional model to explain the two-site binding of Nrf2 as well as its efficient ubiquitination. 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2015.05.034
    Molecular basis of the Keap1-Nrf2 system. Suzuki Takafumi,Yamamoto Masayuki Free radical biology & medicine Nrf2 (NF-E2-related factor 2) is a master regulator of cellular responses against environmental stresses. Nrf2 induces the expression of detoxification and antioxidant enzymes, and Keap1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1), an adaptor subunit of Cullin 3-based E3 ubiquitin ligase, regulates Nrf2 activity. Keap1 also acts as a sensor for oxidative and electrophilic stresses. Keap1 retains multiple sensor cysteine residues that detect various stress stimuli. Increasing attention has been paid to the roles that Nrf2 plays in the protection of our bodies against drug toxicity and stress-induced diseases. On the other hand, Nrf2 is found to promote both oncogenesis and cancer cell resistance against chemotherapeutic drugs. Thus, although Nrf2 acts to protect our body from deleterious stresses, cancer cells hijack the Nrf2 activity to support their malignant growth. Nrf2 has emerged as a new therapeutic target, and both inducers and inhibitors of Nrf2 are awaited. Studies challenging the molecular basis of the Keap1-Nrf2 system functions are now critically important to improve translational studies of the system. Indeed, recent studies identified cross talk between Nrf2 and other signaling pathways, which provides new insights into the mechanisms by which the Keap1-Nrf2 system serves as a potent regulator of our health and disease. 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2015.06.006
    Identification of an adaptor protein that facilitates Nrf2-Keap1 complex formation and modulates antioxidant response. Zhang Yuxue,Hou Yongfan,Liu Chunchun,Li Yinlong,Guo Weiwei,Wu Jiu-Lin,Xu Daqian,You Xue,Pan Yi,Chen Yan Free radical biology & medicine Nrf2 plays a key role in the protection of the body against environmental stress via inducible expression of detoxification and antioxidant enzymes. Keap1 functions as a sensor for oxidative and electrophilic stresses and promotes Nrf2 degradation via its E3 ligase activity. Modulation of the Nrf2-Keap1 pathway has been extensively explored as a strategy to combat against drug toxicity and stress-induced diseases. Here we report a new player that modulates the Nrf2-Keap1 pathway. PAQR3, a membrane protein specifically localized in the Golgi apparatus, negatively regulates the expression of an array of Nrf2 target genes and alters cellular level of reactive oxygen species. PAQR3 tethers Nrf2 and Keap1, but not small MAF proteins to the Golgi apparatus. PAQR3 interacts with both Nrf2 and Keap1 and facilitates the interaction of Nrf2 with Keap1. PAQR3 promotes ubiquitination and degradation of Nrf2. Disruption of PAQR3 interaction with Nrf2 and Keap1 by a synthetic peptide reduces Nrf2 ubiquitination and elevates expression of Nrf2 target genes. At the animal level, deletion of PAQR3 increases Nrf2 protein level and the expression of Nrf2 target genes. In conclusion, our study pinpoints that PAQR3 functions as an adaptor protein to promote Nrf2-Keap1 complex formation, thereby modulating the Nrf2-Keap2 pathway and playing an important role in controlling antioxidant response of the cell. 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2016.05.017
    A hydrogen peroxide responsive prodrug of Keap1-Nrf2 inhibitor for improving oral absorption and selective activation in inflammatory conditions. Lu Mengchen,Zhang Xian,Zhao Jing,You Qidong,Jiang Zhengyu Redox biology Transcription factor Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and its negative regulator, the E3 ligase adaptor Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1), control the redox and metabolic homeostasis and oxidative stress. Inhibitors of Keap1-Nrf2 interaction are promising in oxidative stress related inflammatory diseases but now hit hurdles. By utilizing thiazolidinone moiety to shield the key carboxyl pharmacophore in Keap1-Nrf2 inhibitor, a hydrogen peroxide (HO)-responsive prodrug pro2 was developed. The prodrug modification improved the physicochemical properties and cell membrane permeability of the parent drug. Pro2 was stable and stayed inactive under various physiological conditions, while became active by stimulation of HO or inflammation derived reactive oxygen species. Moreover, pro2 exhibited proper pharmacokinetic profile suitable for oral administration and enhanced anti-inflammatory efficiency in vivo. Thus, this novel prodrug approach may not only provide an important advance in the therapy of chronic inflammatory diseases with high level of HO, but also offer a fresh solution to improve the drug-like and selectivity issues of Keap1-Nrf2 inhibitors. 10.1016/j.redox.2020.101565
    Rational cyclization-based minimization of entropy penalty upon the binding of Nrf2-derived linear peptides to Keap1: A new strategy to improve therapeutic peptide activity against sepsis. Chen Ke,Huang Liuliu,Shen Bin Biophysical chemistry Nrf2 is a critical regulator of innate immune response and survival during sepsis, which is constitutively degraded through binding to the Keap1 adapter protein of E3 ubiquitin ligase. Two linear peptides DLG and ETG derived from, respectively, the low-affinity and high-affinity motifs of Nrf2 binding site exhibit self-binding affinity to Keap1 central hole (active pocket); they can be exploited as therapeutic self-inhibitory peptides to disrupt the Nrf2-Keap1 interaction. Molecular dynamics simulation and binding energetics decomposition reveal that the two peptides possess large flexibility and intrinsic disorder in unbound free state, and thus would incur a considerable entropy penalty upon binding to Keap1. In order to improve Keap1-peptide binding affinity (or free energy ΔG), instead of traditionally increasing favorable enthalpy contribution (ΔH) we herein describe a rational peptide cyclization strategy to minimize unfavorable entropy penalty (ΔS) upon the binding of Nrf2-derived linear peptides to Keap1. Crystal structure analysis impart that the native active conformations of DLG and ETG peptides bound with Keap1 are folded into U-shape and hairpin configurations, respectively, and adopt their turning head to insert into the central hole of Keap1. Here, cyclization is designed by adding a disulfide bond across the two arms of DLG U-shape or ETG hairpin, which would not influence the direct intermolecular interaction between Keap1 and peptide as well as desolvation effect involved in the interaction, but can effectively constrain the conformational flexibility and disorder of the two peptides in free state, thus largely minimizing entropy penalty upon the binding. Both free energy calculation and binding affinity assay substantiate that the cyclization, as might be expected, can moderately or considerably enhance peptide binding potency to Keap1, with affinity (dissociation constant K) increase by 1.4-7.5-fold for designed cyclic peptides relative to their linear counterparts. 10.1016/j.bpc.2018.11.002
    A Naturally-Occurring Dominant-Negative Inhibitor of Keap1 Competitively against Its Negative Regulation of Nrf2. Qiu Lu,Wang Meng,Zhu Yuping,Xiang Yuancai,Zhang Yiguo International journal of molecular sciences Transcription factor Nrf2 (nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2) is a master regulator of antioxidant and/or electrophile response elements (AREs/EpREs)-driven genes involved in homeostasis, detoxification, and adaptation to various stresses. The cytoprotective activity of Nrf2, though being oppositely involved in both cancer prevention and progression, is critically controlled by Keap1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1), which is an adaptor subunit of Cullin 3-based E3 ubiquitin ligase and also is a key sensor for oxidative and electrophilic stresses. Here, we first report a novel naturally-occurring mutant of Keap1, designated Keap1, which lacks most of its C-terminal Nrf2-interacting domain essential for inhibition of the cap'n'collar (CNC) basic-region leucine zipper (bZIP) factor. This mutant Keap1 is yielded by translation from an alternatively mRNA-spliced variant lacking the fourth and fifth exons, but their coding sequences are retained in the wild-type locus (with no genomic deletions). Although this variant was found primarily in the human highly-metastatic hepatoma (MHCC97H) cells, it was widely expressed at very lower levels in all other cell lines examined. Such Keap1 retains no or less ability to inhibit Nrf2, so that it functions as a dominant-negative competitor of Keap1 against its inhibition of Nrf2 due to its antagonist effect on Keap1-mediated turnover of Nrf2 protein. 10.3390/ijms19082150
    Structural and mechanistic insights into the Keap1-Nrf2 system as a route to drug discovery. Madden Sarah K,Itzhaki Laura S Biochimica et biophysica acta. Proteins and proteomics The proteins Keap1 and Nrf2 together act as a cytoprotective mechanism that enables cells to overcome electrophilic and oxidative stress. Research has shown that manipulating this system by modulating the Keap1-Nrf2 interaction either through inhibition at the binding interface or via the covalent modification of Keap1 could provide a powerful therapeutic strategy for a range of diseases. However, despite intensive investigation of the system and significant progress in the development of inhibitory small molecules, there is still much to learn about the pathways associated with the Keap1-Nrf2 system and the structural details underpinning its mechanism of action. In this review, we discuss how a deeper understanding could prove revolutionary in the development of new inhibitors and activators as well as guiding how to best harness Keap1 for targeted protein degradation. 10.1016/j.bbapap.2020.140405
    Drug screening assay based on the interaction of intact Keap1 and Nrf2 proteins in cancer cells. Zhou Bo,Zhang Xiaolei,Wang Guiren,Barbour Karen W,Berger Franklin G,Wang Qian Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry BACKGROUND:The Nrf2-Keap1 interaction is the major regulatory pathway for cytoprotective responses against oxidative and electrophilic stresses. Keap1, a substrate protein of a Cul3-dependent E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, is a negative regulator of Nrf2. The use of chemicals to regulate the interaction between Keap1 and Nrf2 has been proposed as a strategy for the chemoprevention of degenerative diseases and cancers. RESULTS:The interactions between Keap1 and Nrf2 in vitro and in vivo were investigated using fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) and bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) strategies in our study. Nrf2 with its N-terminal fused to eGFP and Keap1 with its C-terminal fused to mCherry were expressed and purified in vitro. When purified eGFP-Nrf2 and Keap1-mChrry proteins were mixed together, a strong FRET signal could be detected, indicating an efficient energy transfer from eGFP to mCherry. Moreover, the FRET was detected in vivo using confocal microscopy in colon cancer HCT-116 cells that were co-transfected with eGFP-Nrf2 and Keap1-mCherry. Finally, using an eGFP BiFC approach, the Keap1-Nrf2 interaction was also detected in MCF7 cells by transfecting eGFP N-terminal fused to Nrf2 (eN158-Nrf2) and eGFP C-terminal fused to Keap1 (eC159-Keap1). Using the BiFC and FRET systems, we demonstrated that the prototypical Nrf2-activiting compound tBHQ and the antitumor drug F-dUrd might interfere with the intracellular interaction between Keap1 and Nrf2 whereas the 5-Fu have little role in activating the protective response of Nrf2 pathway in cancer cells. CONCLUSIONS:By analyzing the perturbation of the energy transfer between the donor and acceptor fluorophores and the bimolecular fluorescence complementation of eGFP, we can screen potential inhibitors for the interaction between Keap1 and Nrf2. 10.1016/j.bmc.2018.11.019
    The Molecular Mechanisms Regulating the KEAP1-NRF2 Pathway. Baird Liam,Yamamoto Masayuki Molecular and cellular biology The KEAP1-NRF2 pathway is the principal protective response to oxidative and electrophilic stresses. Under homeostatic conditions, KEAP1 forms part of an E3 ubiquitin ligase, which tightly regulates the activity of the transcription factor NRF2 by targeting it for ubiquitination and proteasome-dependent degradation. In response to stress, an intricate molecular mechanism facilitated by sensor cysteines within KEAP1 allows NRF2 to escape ubiquitination, accumulate within the cell, and translocate to the nucleus, where it can promote its antioxidant transcription program. Recent advances have revealed that KEAP1 contains multiple stress sensors and inactivation modalities, which together allow diverse cellular inputs, from oxidative stress and cellular metabolites to dysregulated autophagy, to regulate NRF2 activity. This integration of the KEAP1-NRF2 system into multiple cellular signaling and metabolic pathways places NRF2 activation as a critical regulatory node in many disease phenotypes and suggests that the pharmaceutical modulation of NRF2's cytoprotective activity will be beneficial for human health in a broad range of noncommunicable diseases. 10.1128/MCB.00099-20