Regulatory crosstalk between the oxidative stress-related transcription factor Nfe2l2/Nrf2 and mitochondria

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Mitochondria play essential roles in cellular bioenergetics, biosynthesis, and apoptosis. During the process of respiration and oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondria utilize oxygen to generate ATP, and at the same time, there is an inevitable generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). As excess ROS create oxidative stress and damage cells, the proper function of the antioxidant defense system is critical for eukaryotic cell survival under aerobic conditions. Nuclear factor, erythroid 2-like 2 (Nfe2l2/Nrf2) is a master transcription factor for regulating basal as well as inducible expression of multiple antioxidant proteins. Nrf2 has been involved in maintaining mitochondrial redox homeostasis by providing reduced forms of glutathione (GSH); the reducing cofactor NADPH; and mitochondrial antioxidant enzymes such as GSH peroxidase 1, superoxide dismutase 2, and peroxiredoxin 3/5. In addition, recent research advances suggest that Nrf2 contributes to mitochondrial regulation through more divergent intermolecular linkages. Nrf2 has been positively associated with mitochondrial biogenesis through the direct upregulation of mitochondrial transcription factors and is involved in the mitochondrial quality control system through mitophagy activation. Moreover, several mitochondrial proteins participate in regulating Nrf2 to form a reciprocal regulatory loop between mitochondria and Nrf2. Additionally, Nrf2 modulation in cancer cells leads to changes in the mitochondrial respiration system and cancer bioenergetics that overall affect cancer metabolism. In this review, we describe recent experimental observations on the relationship between Nrf2 and mitochondria, and further discuss the effects of Nrf2 on cancer mitochondria and metabolism.HIGHLIGHTSNrf2 maintains mitochondrial redox homeostasis by upregulating multiple antioxidants proteins.Nrf2 is positively associated with mitochondria biogenesis and respiration, and energy production.Nrf2 is involved in the mitochondrial quality control system through mitophagy activationSeveral mitochondrial proteins regulates Nrf2 to form a reciprocal regulatory loop.

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