Glucocorticoid receptor signaling represses the antioxidant response by inhibiting histone acetylation mediated by the transcriptional activator NRF2

Md Morshedul Alam, Keito Okazaki, Linh Thi Thao Nguyen, Nao Ota, Hiroshi Kitamura, Shohei Murakami, Hiroki Shima, Kazuhiko Igarashi, Hiroki Sekine, Hozumi Motohashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


NRF2 (nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2) is a key transcriptional activator that mediates the inducible expression of antioxidant genes. NRF2 is normally ubiquitinated by KEAP1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1) and subsequently degraded by proteasomes. Inactivation of KEAP1 by oxidative stress or electrophilic chemicals allows NRF2 to activate transcription through binding to antioxidant response elements (AREs) and recruiting histone acetyltransferase CBP (CREBbinding protein). Whereas KEAP1-dependent regulation is a major determinant of NRF2 activity, NRF2-mediated transcriptional activation varies from context to context, suggesting that other intracellular signaling cascades may impact NRF2 function. To identify a signaling pathway that modifies NRF2 activity, we immunoprecipitated endogenous NRF2 and its interacting proteins from mouse liver and identified glucocorticoid receptor (GR) as a novel NRF2-binding partner. We found that glucocorticoids, dexamethasone and betamethasone, antagonize diethyl maleate-induced activation of NRF2 target genes in a GR-dependent manner. Dexamethasone treatment enhanced GRrecruitment to AREs without affecting chromatin binding of NRF2, resulting in the inhibition of CBP recruitment and histone acetylation at AREs. This repressive effect was canceled by the addition of histone deacetylase inhibitors. Thus, GR signaling decreases NRF2 transcriptional activation through reducing the NRF2-dependent histone acetylation. Consistent with these observations,GRsignaling blocked NRF2-mediated cytoprotection from oxidative stress. This study suggests that an impaired antioxidant response by NRF2 and a resulting decrease in cellular antioxidant capacity account for the side effects of glucocorticoids, providing a novel viewpoint for the pathogenesis of hypercorticosteroidism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7519-7530
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May 5

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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