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Nrf2 responses and the therapeutic selectivity of electrophilic compounds in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Raymond P. Wu, Tomoko Hayashi, Howard B. Cottam, Guangyi Jin, Shiyin Yao, Christina C. N. Wu, Michael D. Rosenbach, Maripat Corr, Richard B. Schwab and Dennis A. Carson
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 107, No. 16 (April 20, 2010), pp. 7479-7484
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25665378
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Nrf2 responses and the therapeutic selectivity of electrophilic compounds in chronic lymphocytic leukemia
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Abstract

Recent studies show that redox-active small molecules are selectively cytotoxic to chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Although elevated levels of reactive oxygen species in CLL cells have been implicated, the molecular mechanism underlying this selectivity is unclear. In other cell types, the nuclear factor erythroid 2—related factor 2 (Nrf2) signaling pathway regulates the oxidative stress response. We found elevated Nrf2 signaling in untreated CLL cells compared with normal lymphocytes. Therefore, we tested 27 known electrophilic and antioxidant compounds with drug-like properties and determined their CLL-selective cytotoxicity and effect on Nrf2 signaling. The selected compounds were from five distinct structural classes; α-β unsaturated carbonyls, isothiocyanates, sulfhydryl reactive metals, flavones, and polyphenols. Our results show that compounds containing α-β unsaturated carbonyls, sulfhydryl reactive metals, and isothiocyanates are strong activators of Nrf2 in a reporter assay system and in primary human CLL based on increased expression of the Nrf2 target heme oxygenase—1. α-β Unsaturated carbonyl-containing compounds were selectively cytotoxic to CLL, and loss of the α-β unsaturation abrogated Nrf2 activity and CLL toxicity. The α-β unsaturated carbonyl containing compounds ethacrynic acid and parthenolide activated Nrf2 in normal peripheral blood mono-nuclear cells, but had a less potent effect in CLL cells. Furthermore, ethacrynic acid bound directly to the Nrf2-negative regulator Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) in CLL cells. These experiments document the presence of Nrf2 signaling in human CLL and suggest that altered Nrf2 responses may contribute to the observed selective cytotoxicity of electrophilic compounds in this disease.

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