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Open AccessReview

Dissecting the Crosstalk between NRF2 Signaling and Metabolic Processes in Cancer

Department of Cancer Physiology, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL 33612, USA
Cancer Biology PhD Program, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33612, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Cancers 2020, 12(10), 3023;
Received: 24 September 2020 / Revised: 14 October 2020 / Accepted: 15 October 2020 / Published: 17 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The KEAP1-NRF2 Pathway in Cancer)
The stress-responsive transcription factor NRF2 (nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2) directs cellular metabolic processes that can have diverse effects in the context of cancer. This review addresses how NRF2 and its negative regulator KEAP1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1) collectively modulate and respond to metabolism. We highlight NRF2-regulated processes relevant to the antioxidant system, cellular proliferation, and survival, including metabolism of amino acids, lipids, NADPH (reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate), iron, and heme. We also review the stabilization of NRF2 by electrophiles, metabolites, and autophagy. Finally, we discuss topics that warrant further investigation into the KEAP1/NRF2 pathway’s role in tumor progression.
The transcription factor NRF2 (nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 or NFE2L2) plays a critical role in response to cellular stress. Following an oxidative insult, NRF2 orchestrates an antioxidant program, leading to increased glutathione levels and decreased reactive oxygen species (ROS). Mounting evidence now implicates the ability of NRF2 to modulate metabolic processes, particularly those at the interface between antioxidant processes and cellular proliferation. Notably, NRF2 regulates the pentose phosphate pathway, NADPH production, glutaminolysis, lipid and amino acid metabolism, many of which are hijacked by cancer cells to promote proliferation and survival. Moreover, deregulation of metabolic processes in both normal and cancer-based physiology can stabilize NRF2. We will discuss how perturbation of metabolic pathways, including the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, glycolysis, and autophagy can lead to NRF2 stabilization, and how NRF2-regulated metabolism helps cells deal with these metabolic stresses. Finally, we will discuss how the negative regulator of NRF2, Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1), may play a role in metabolism through NRF2 transcription-independent mechanisms. Collectively, this review will address the interplay between the NRF2/KEAP1 complex and metabolic processes. View Full-Text
Keywords: NRF2; cancer metabolism; KEAP1; NADPH; amino acids; lipids; oxidative stress NRF2; cancer metabolism; KEAP1; NADPH; amino acids; lipids; oxidative stress
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MDPI and ACS Style

DeBlasi, J.M.; DeNicola, G.M. Dissecting the Crosstalk between NRF2 Signaling and Metabolic Processes in Cancer. Cancers 2020, 12, 3023.

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