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Unification of Opposites between Two Antioxidant Transcription Factors Nrf1 and Nrf2 in Mediating Distinct Cellular Responses to the Endoplasmic Reticulum Stressor Tunicamycin

by Yu-ping Zhu 1,†, Ze Zheng 1,†, Shaofan Hu 1,†, Xufang Ru 1, Zhuo Fan 1, Lu Qiu 1,2 and Yiguo Zhang 1,*
1
The Laboratory of Cell Biochemistry and Topogenetic Regulation, College of Bioengineering and Faculty of Sciences, Chongqing University, No. 174 Shazheng Street, Shapingba District, Chongqing 400044, China
2
School of Life Sciences, Zhengzhou University, No. 100 Kexue Avenue, Zhengzhou 450001, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Contributed equally to this work.
Antioxidants 2020, 9(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9010004
Received: 13 November 2019 / Revised: 7 December 2019 / Accepted: 17 December 2019 / Published: 19 December 2019
The water-soluble Nrf2 (nuclear factor, erythroid 2-like 2, also called Nfe2l2) is accepted as a master regulator of antioxidant responses to cellular stress, and it was also identified as a direct target of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-anchored PERK (protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase). However, the membrane-bound Nrf1 (nuclear factor, erythroid 2-like 1, also called Nfe2l1) response to ER stress remains elusive. Herein, we report a unity of opposites between these two antioxidant transcription factors, Nrf1 and Nrf2, in coordinating distinct cellular responses to the ER stressor tunicamycin (TU). The TU-inducible transcription of Nrf1 and Nrf2, as well as GCLM (glutamate cysteine ligase modifier subunit) and HO-1 (heme oxygenase 1), was accompanied by activation of ER stress signaling networks. Notably, the unfolded protein response (UPR) mediated by ATF6 (activating transcription factor 6), IRE1 (inositol requiring enzyme 1) and PERK was significantly suppressed by Nrf1α-specific knockout, but hyper-expression of Nrf2 and its target genes GCLM and HO-1 has retained in Nrf1α−/− cells. By contrast, Nrf2−/−ΔTA cells with genomic deletion of its transactivation (TA) domain resulted in significant decreases of GCLM, HO-1 and Nrf1; this was accompanied by partial decreases of IRE1 and ATF6, rather than PERK, but with an increase of ATF4 (activating transcription factor 4). Interestingly, Nrf1 glycosylation and its trans-activity to mediate the transcriptional expression of the 26S proteasomal subunits, were repressed by TU. This inhibitory effect was enhanced by Nrf1α−/− and Nrf2−/−ΔTA, but not by a constitutive activator caNrf2ΔN (that increased abundances of the non-glycosylated and processed Nrf1). Furthermore, caNrf2ΔN also enhanced induction of PERK and IRE1 by TU, but reduced expression of ATF4 and HO-1. Thus, it is inferred that such distinct roles of Nrf1 and Nrf2 are unified to maintain cell homeostasis by a series of coordinated ER-to-nuclear signaling responses to TU. Nrf1α (i.e., a full-length form) acts in a cell-autonomous manner to determine the transcription of most of UPR-target genes, albeit Nrf2 is also partially involved in this process. Consistently, transactivation of ARE (antioxidant response element)-driven BIP (binding immunoglobulin protein)-, PERK- and XBP1 (X-box binding protein 1)-Luc reporter genes was mediated directly by Nrf1 and/or Nrf2. Interestingly, Nrf1α is more potent than Nrf2 at mediating the cytoprotective responses against the cytotoxicity of TU alone or plus tBHQ (tert-butylhydroquinone). This is also further supported by the evidence that the intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels are increased in Nrf1α−/− cells, but rather are, to our surprise, decreased in Nrf2−/−ΔTA cells. View Full-Text
Keywords: Nrf1; Nrf2; antioxidant; ER stress; unfolded protein response (UPR); redox signaling; tunicamycin; proteasome; glycosylation; PERK; IRE1; ATF6; ATF4; HO-1; GCLM; topobiology Nrf1; Nrf2; antioxidant; ER stress; unfolded protein response (UPR); redox signaling; tunicamycin; proteasome; glycosylation; PERK; IRE1; ATF6; ATF4; HO-1; GCLM; topobiology
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Zhu, Y.-P.; Zheng, Z.; Hu, S.; Ru, X.; Fan, Z.; Qiu, L.; Zhang, Y. Unification of Opposites between Two Antioxidant Transcription Factors Nrf1 and Nrf2 in Mediating Distinct Cellular Responses to the Endoplasmic Reticulum Stressor Tunicamycin. Antioxidants 2020, 9, 4.

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