RFG3 Center Synergies

  • The progressive nature of colorectal cancer (CRC) and poor prognosis associated with the metastatic phase of the disease create an urgent need for the development of more efficacious strategies targeting colorectal carcinogenesis. Cumulative evidence suggests that the redox-sensitive transcription factor Nrf2 (nuclear factor-E2-related factor 2), a master regulator of the cellular antioxidant defence, represents a promising molecular target for CRC chemoprevention. Recently, we have identified cinnamon, the ground bark of Cinnamomum aromaticum (cassia cinnamon) and Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon), as a rich dietary source of the Nrf2 inducer cinnamaldehyde (CA) eliciting the Nrf2-regulated antioxidant response in human epithelial colon cells, conferring cytoprotection against electrophilic and genotoxic insult. Here, we have explored the molecular mechanism underlying CA-induced Nrf2 activation in colorectal epithelial cells and have examined the chemopreventive potential of CA in a murine CRC model comparing Nrf2+/+ and Nrf2-/- mice. In HCT116 cells, CA caused a Keap1-C151-dependent increase in Nrf2 protein half-life via blockage of ubiquitination with upregulation of cytoprotective Nrf2 target genes and elevation of cellular glutathione. After optimizing colorectal Nrf2 activation and target gene expression by dietary CA-supplementation regimens, we demonstrated that CA suppresses AOM/DSS-induced inflammatory colon carcinogenesis with modulation of molecular markers of colorectal carcinogenesis. Dietary suppression of CRC using CA supplementation was achieved in Nrf2+/+ but not in Nrf2-/- mice confirming the Nrf2-dependence of CA-induced chemopreventive effects. Taken together, our data suggest feasibility of CRC suppression by dietary CA, an FDA-approved food additive derived from the third most consumed spice in the world.
  • Increased endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and reactive oxygen species (ROS) are the salient features of end-stage liver diseases. Using liver tissues from liver cirrhosis patients, we observed up-regulation of the XBP1-Hrd1 arm of the ER stress response pathway and down-regulation of the Nrf2-mediated antioxidant response pathway. We further confirmed this negative regulation of Nrf2 by Hrd1 using Hrd1 conditional knockout mice. Down-regulation of Nrf2 was a surprising result, since the high levels of ROS should have inactivated Keap1, the primary ubiquitin ligase regulating Nrf2 levels. Here, we identified Hrd1 as a novel E3 ubiquitin ligase responsible for compromised Nrf2 response during liver cirrhosis. In cirrhotic livers, activation of the XBP1-Hrd1 arm of ER stress transcriptionally up-regulated Hrd1, resulting in enhanced Nrf2 ubiquitylation and degradation and attenuation of the Nrf2 signaling pathway. Our study reveals not only the convergence of ER and oxidative stress response pathways but also the pathological importance of this cross-talk in liver cirrhosis. Finally, we showed the therapeutic importance of targeting Hrd1, rather than Keap1, to prevent Nrf2 loss and suppress liver cirrhosis.
  • Investigator: Pak Kin Wong, Ph.D.