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      The mycosporine-like amino acids porphyra-334 and shinorine are antioxidants and direct antagonists of Keap1-Nrf2 binding

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          Mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) are UVR-absorbing metabolites typically produced by cyanobacteria and marine algae, but their properties are not limited to direct sun screening protection. Herein, we examine the antioxidant activities of porphyra-334 and shinorine and demonstrate that these MAAs are prospective activators of the cytoprotective Keap1-Nrf2 pathway. The ability of porphyra-334 and shinorine to bind with Keap1 was determined using fluorescence polarization (FP) and thermal shift assays to detect Keap1 receptor antagonism. Concomitantly, the ability of porphyra-334 and shinorine to dissociate Nrf2 from Keap1 was confirmed also by measurement of increased mRNA expression of Nrf2 targeted genes encoding oxidative stress defense proteins in primary skin fibroblasts prior and post UVR exposure. Surprisingly, enhanced transcriptional regulation was only promoted by MAAs in cells after exposure to UVR-induced oxidative stress. Furthermore, the in-vitro antioxidant activities of porphyra-334 and shinorine determined by the DPPH free-radical quenching assay were low in comparison to ascorbic acid. However, their antioxidant capacity determined by the ORAC assay to quench free radicals via hydrogen atom transfer is substantial. Hence, the dual nature of MAAs to provide antioxidant protection may offer a prospective chemotherapeutic strategy to prevent or retard the progression of multiple degenerative disorders of ageing.

          Graphical abstract


          • Mycosporine like amino acids (MAAs) are natural UVR filters found predominantly in marine species.

          • MAAs act as antagonists of Keap1-Nrf2 binding, and as chemical quenchers.

          • MAAs activated Nrf2-regulated genes, but only after UV irradiation.

          • This also led to decreased expression of MMP1, a collagenase linked to photoageing.

          • MAAs offers new insight into how cells can manage UV-induced oxidative stress.

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          Most cited references 49

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          Molecular mechanisms of the Keap1–Nrf2 pathway in stress response and cancer evolution.

          The Keap1–Nrf2 regulatory pathway plays a central role in the protection of cells against oxidative and xenobiotic damage. Under unstressed conditions, Nrf2 is constantly ubiquitinated by the Cul3–Keap1 ubiquitin E3 ligase complex and rapidly degraded in proteasomes. Upon exposure to electrophilic and oxidative stresses, reactive cysteine residues of Keap1 become modified, leading to a decline in the E3 ligase activity, stabilization of Nrf2 and robust induction of a battery of cytoprotective genes. Biochemical and structural analyses have revealed that the intact Keap1 homodimer forms a cherry-bob structure in which one molecule of Nrf2 associates with two molecules of Keap1 by using two binding sites within the Neh2 domain of Nrf2. This two-site binding appears critical for Nrf2 ubiquitination. In many human cancers, missense mutations in KEAP1 and NRF2 genes have been identified. These mutations disrupt the Keap1–Nrf2 complex activity involved in ubiquitination and degradation of Nrf2 and result in constitutive activation of Nrf2. Elevated expression of Nrf2 target genes confers advantages in terms of stress resistance and cell proliferation in normal and cancer cells. Discovery and development of selective Nrf2 inhibitors should make a critical contribution to improved cancer therapy.
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            NRF2 and cancer: the good, the bad and the importance of context.

            Many studies of chemopreventive drugs have suggested that their beneficial effects on suppression of carcinogenesis and many other chronic diseases are mediated through activation of the transcription factor NFE2-related factor 2 (NRF2). More recently, genetic analyses of human tumours have indicated that NRF2 may conversely be oncogenic and cause resistance to chemotherapy. It is therefore controversial whether the activation, or alternatively the inhibition, of NRF2 is a useful strategy for the prevention or treatment of cancer. This Opinion article aims to rationalize these conflicting perspectives by critiquing the context dependence of NRF2 functions and the experimental methods behind these conflicting data.
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              Nrf2 enhances resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs, the dark side of Nrf2.

              Drug resistance during chemotherapy is the major obstacle to the successful treatment of many cancers. Here, we report that inhibition of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) may be a promising strategy to combat chemoresistance. Nrf2 is a critical transcription factor regulating a cellular protective response that defends cells against toxic insults from a broad spectrum of chemicals. Under normal conditions, the low constitutive amount of Nrf2 protein is maintained by the Kelch-like ECH-associated protein1 (Keap1)-mediated ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation system. Upon activation, this Keap1-dependent Nrf2 degradation mechanism is quickly inactivated, resulting in accumulation and activation of the antioxidant response element (ARE)-dependent cytoprotective genes. Since its discovery, Nrf2 has been viewed as a 'good' transcription factor that protects us from many diseases. In this study, we demonstrate the dark side of Nrf2: stable overexpression of Nrf2 resulted in enhanced resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents including cisplatin, doxorubicin and etoposide. Inversely, downregulation of the Nrf2-dependent response by overexpression of Keap1 or transient transfection of Nrf2-small interfering RNA (siRNA) rendered cancer cells more susceptible to these drugs. Upregulation of Nrf2 by the small chemical tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) also enhanced the resistance of cancer cells, indicating the feasibility of using small chemical inhibitors of Nrf2 as adjuvants to chemotherapy to increase the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents. Furthermore, we provide evidence that the strategy of using Nrf2 inhibitors to increase efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents is not limited to certain cancer types or anticancer drugs and thus can be applied during the course of chemotherapy to treat many cancer types.

                Author and article information

                Editions Scientifiques Elsevier
                1 November 2018
                November 2018
                : 154
                : 35-44
                [a ]Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King's College London, United Kingdom
                [b ]School of Pharmacy, University College London, United Kingdom
                [c ]Chemical Laboratory, Hokkaido University of Education, Japan
                Author notes
                []Corresponding author. School of Cancer & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King's College London, Room 3.10 Franklin-Wilkins Building, 150 Stamford Street, London, SE1 9NH, United Kingdom paul.long@ 123456kcl.ac.uk

                Both authors contributed equally to the experimental work.

                © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.

                This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).



                mycosporine-like amino acids, nrf2, antioxidants, natural products, oxidative stress


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