NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a key transcription factor that is critical for cellular defense against oxidative and xenobiotic insults. Nrf2 heterodimerizes with small Maf (sMaf) proteins and binds to antioxidant response elements (AREs) to activate a battery of cytoprotective genes. However, it remains unclear to what extent the Nrf2-sMaf heterodimers contribute to ARE-dependent gene regulation on a genome-wide scale. We performed chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with high-throughput sequencing and identified the binding sites of Nrf2 and MafG throughout the genome. Compared to sites occupied by Nrf2 alone, many sites co-occupied by Nrf2 and MafG exhibit high enrichment and are located in species-conserved genomic regions. The ARE motifs were significantly enriched among the recovered Nrf2-MafG-binding sites but not among the Nrf2-binding sites that did not display MafG binding. The majority of the Nrf2-regulated cytoprotective genes were found in the vicinity of Nrf2-MafG-binding sites. Additionally, sequences that regulate glucose metabolism and several amino acid transporters were identified as Nrf2-MafG target genes, suggesting diverse roles for the Nrf2-MafG heterodimer in stress response. These data clearly support the notion that Nrf2-sMaf heterodimers are complexes that regulate batteries of genes involved in various aspects of cytoprotective and metabolic functions through associated AREs.
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