Pharmacogenomics of chemically distinct classes of keap1-Nrf2 activators identify common and unique gene, protein, and pathway responses in vivo


The Kelch-like erythroid-associated protein 1 (Keap1)-NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) signaling pathway is the subject of several clinical trials evaluating the effects of Nrf2 activation on the prevention of cancer and diabetes and the treatment of chronic kidney disease and multiple sclerosis. 3H-1,2-dithiole-3-thione (D3T) and 1-[2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oyl]-imidazole (CDDO-Im) are representative members of two distinct series of Nrf2 chemical activators. Previous reports have described activator-specific effects on Nrf2-dependent gene regulation and physiologic outcomes. Here we used a robust chemical genomics approach to characterize expression profiles between D3T and CDDO-Im in livers from wild-type and Nrf2-null mice. At equally efficacious doses in wild-type mice, 406 genes show common RNA responses to both treatments. These genes enriched the Nrf2-regulated pathways of antioxidant defense and xenobiotic metabolism. In addition, 197 and 745 genes were regulated uniquely in response to either D3T or CDDO-Im, respectively. Functional analysis of the D3T-regulated set showed a significant enrichment of Nrf2-regulated enzymes involved in cholesterol biosynthesis. This result was supported by Nrf2-dependent increases in lanosterol synthase and CYP51 protein expression. CDDO-Im had no effect on cholesterol biosynthesis regardless of the dose tested. However, unlike D3T, CDDO-Im resulted in Nrf2-dependent elevation of peroxisome proliferator a and Kruppel-like factor 13, as well as the coactivator peroxisome proliferator γ coactivator 1β, together indicating regulation of β-oxidation and lipid metabolic pathways. These findings provide novel insights into the pharmacodynamic action of these two activators of Keap1-Nrf2 signaling. Although both compounds modify Keap1 to affect canonical cytoprotective gene expression, additional unique sets of Nrf2-dependent genes were regulated by each agent with enrichment of selective metabolic pathways.

Publication Title

Molecular Pharmacology