Nrf2 protects human lens epithelial cells against H2O2-induced oxidative and ER stress: The ATF4 may be involved

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Our previous study has shown heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) protects human lens epithelial cells (LECs) against H2O2-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis. Nrf2, the major regulator of HO-1, is triggered during the mutual induction of oxidative stress and ER stress. In response to ER stress, unfolded protein response (UPR) serves as a program of transcriptional and translational regulation mechanism with PERK involved. Both Nrf2 and ATF4 are activated as the downstream effect of PERK signaling coordinating the convergence of dual stresses. However, the ways in which Nrf2 interacting with ATF4 regulates deteriorated redox state have not yet been fully explored. Here, the transfected LECs with Nrf2 overexpression illustrated enhanced resistance in morphology and viability upon H2O2 treatment condition. Intracellular ROS accumulation arouses ER stress, initiating PERK dependent UPR and inducing the downstream signal Nrf2 and ATF4 auto-phosphorylation. Further, converging at target promoters, ATF4 facilitates Nrf2 with the expression of ARE-dependent phase II antioxidant and detoxification enzymes. According to either Nrf2 or ATF4 gene modification, our data suggests a novel interaction between Nrf2 and ATF4 under oxidative and ER stress, thus drives specific enzymatic and non-enzymatic reactions of antioxidant mechanisms maintaining redox homeostasis. Therapies that restoring Nrf2 or ATF4 expression might help to postpone LECs aging and age-related cataract formation.HighlightsOxidative and ER stress combined status impairs H2O2-treated LECs.Nrf2 signaling activation accelerates LECs antioxidative ability and cell viability.The endonuclear interaction of Nrf2 and ATF4 is firstly verified in H2O2-treated LECs.ATF4 facilitates Nrf2 with the expression of antioxidant enzymes hence reducing intracellular ROS.

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