Methylmercury (MeHg) is an environmental electrophile that covalently modifies cellular proteins with reactive thiols, resulting in the formation of protein adducts. While such protein modifications, referred to as S-mercuration, are thought to be associated with the enzyme dysfunction and cellular damage caused by MeHg exposure, the current consensus is that (1) there is a cellular response to MeHg through the activation of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) coupled to S-mercuration of its negative regulator, Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1), and (2) the Keap1/Nrf2 pathway protects against MeHg toxicity. In this review, we introduce our findings and discuss the observations of other workers concerning the S-mercuration of cellular proteins by MeHg and the importance of the Keap1/Nrf2 pathway in protection against MeHg toxicity in cultured cells and mice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology