Antioxidants Enhance Mammalian Proteasome Expression through the Keap1-Nrf2 Signaling Pathway

Mi Kyoung Kwak, Nobunao Wakabayashi, Jennifer L. Greenlaw, Masayuki Yamamoto, Thomas W. Kensler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

359 Scopus citations


Proteasomes degrade damaged proteins formed during oxidative stress, thereby promoting cell survival. Neurodegenerative and other age-related disorders are associated with reduced proteasome activity. We show herein that expression of most subunits of 20S and 19S proteasomes, which collectively assemble the 26S proteasome, was enhanced up to threefold in livers of mice following treatment with dithiolethiones, which act as indirect antioxidants. Subunit protein levels and proteasome activity were coordinately increased. No induction was seen in mice where the transcription factor Nrf2 was disrupted. Promoter activity of the PSMB5 subunit of the 20S proteasome increased with either Nrf2 overexpression or treatment with antioxidants in mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Tandem antioxidant response elements in the proximal promoter of PSMB5 that controlled these responses were identified. We propose that induction of the 26S proteasome through the Nrf2 pathway represents an important indirect action of these antioxidants that can contribute to their protective effects against chronic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8786-8794
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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