Kelch-like ECH-Associated protein 1 (KEAP1) differentially regulates nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factors 1 and 2 (NRF1 and NRF2)

Wang Tian, Montserrat Rojo De La Vega, Cody J. Schmidlin, Aikseng Ooi, Donna D. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 1 (NRF1) and NRF2 are essential for maintaining redox homeostasis and coordinating cellular stress responses. They are highly homologous transcription factors that regulate the expression of genes bearing antioxidant-response elements (AREs). Genetic ablation of NRF1 or NRF2 results in vastly different phenotypic outcomes, implying that they play different roles and may be differentially regulated. Kelch-like ECH-Associated protein 1 (KEAP1) is the main negative regulator of NRF2 and mediates ubiquitylation and degradation of NRF2 through its NRF2-ECH homology- like domain 2 (Neh2). Here, we report that KEAP1 binds to the Neh2-like (Neh2L) domain of NRF1 and stabilizes it. Consistently, NRF1 is more stable in KEAP1+/+ than in KEAP1-/-isogenic cell lines, whereas NRF2 is dramatically stabilized in KEAP1-/-cells. Replacing NRF1's Neh2L domain with NRF2's Neh2 domain renders NRF1 sensitive to KEAP1-mediated degradation, indicating that the amino acids between the DLG and ETGE motifs, not just the motifs themselves, are essential for KEAP1-mediated degradation. Systematic site-directed mutagenesis identified the core amino acid residues required for KEAP1-mediated degradation and further indicated that the DLG and ETGE motifs with correct spacing are insufficient as a KEAP1 degron. Our results offer critical insights into our understanding of the differential regulation of NRF1 and NRF2 by KEAP1 and their different physiological roles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2029-2040
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 9 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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