The molecular mechanisms regulating the KEAP1-NRF2 pathway

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32 Citations (Scopus)


The KEAP1-NRF2 pathway is the principal protective response to oxidative and electrophilic stresses. Under homeostatic conditions, KEAP1 forms part of an E3 ubiquitin ligase, which tightly regulates the activity of the transcription factor NRF2 by targeting it for ubiquitination and proteasome-dependent degradation. In response to stress, an intricate molecular mechanism facilitated by sensor cysteines within KEAP1 allows NRF2 to escape ubiquitination, accumulate within the cell, and translocate to the nucleus, where it can promote its antioxidant transcription program. Recent advances have revealed that KEAP1 contains multiple stress sensors and inactivation modalities, which together allow diverse cellular inputs, from oxidative stress and cellular metabolites to dysregulated autophagy, to regulate NRF2 activity. This integration of the KEAP1-NRF2 system into multiple cellular signaling and metabolic pathways places NRF2 activation as a critical regulatory node in many disease phenotypes and suggests that the pharmaceutical modulation of NRF2’s cytoprotective activity will be beneficial for human health in a broad range of noncommunicable diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00099-20
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul 1


  • Antioxidant
  • E3 ubiquitin ligase
  • KEAP1
  • NRF2
  • Oxidative stress
  • Stress response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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