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Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Carboxylesterase-1 (CES1), the most versatile human carboxylesterase, plays critical roles in drug metabolism and lipid mobilization. This enzyme is highly induced by antioxidants and sensitizers in various cell lines. These compounds are known to activate nuclear factor-E2 related factor-2 (Nrf2) by reacting to kelch-like ECH-associated protein-1 (Keap1). The aims of this study were to determine whether antioxidant sulforaphane (SFN) and sensitizer trinitrobenzene sulfonate (TNBS) target Keap1 similarly and whether they use the same element for CES1 induction. Cells over-expressing Keap1 were treated with TNBS or SFN and the formation of disulfide bonds among Keap1 molecules were determined. SFN promoted intramolecular disulfide formation whereas TNBS promoted intermolecular disulfide formation of Keap1. Two elements, sensitizing/antioxidant response element (S/ARE) and ARE4, were identified to support Nrf2 in the regulated expression of CES1A1. Both elements were bound by Nrf2, however, the S/ARE element supported, whereas the ARE4 element repressed Nrf2 transactivation. The repression required higher amounts of Nrf2, suggesting that the transactivation through the S/ARE element dominates the trans-repression through the ARE4 element under normal antioxidative condition. These findings conclude that compounds, although triggering the Keap1-Nrf2 pathway, may differ in the mode of reacting with Keap1. These findings also conclude that both positive and negative Nrf2 elements exist even within the same gene, and such opposing mechanisms provide fine-tuning in transcriptional regulation by the Keap1-Nrf2 pathway. High levels of CES1 are linked to lipid retention. Excessive induction of CES1 by antioxidants and sensitizers likely provides a mechanism for potential detrimental effect on human health.

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