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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 8;276(23):20011-6. Epub 2001 Mar 23.

Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, not extracellular signal-regulated kinase, regulates activation of the antioxidant-responsive element in IMR-32 human neuroblastoma cells.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, the Environmental Toxicology Center, the Waisman Center, and the Center for Neuroscience, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


The antioxidant-responsive element (ARE) plays an important role in the induction of phase II detoxifying enzymes including NADPH:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1). We report herein that activation of the human NQO1-ARE (hNQO1-ARE) by tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) is mediated by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-kinase), not extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk1/2), in IMR-32 human neuroblastoma cells. Treatment with tBHQ significantly increased NQO1 protein without activation of Erk1/2. In addition, PD 98059 (a selective mitogen-activated kinase/Erk kinase inhibitor) did not inhibit hNQO1-ARE-luciferase expression or NQO1 protein induction by tBHQ. Pretreatment with LY 294002 (a selective PI3-kinase inhibitor), however, inhibited both hNQO1-ARE-luciferase expression and endogenous NQO1 protein induction. In support of a role for PI3-kinase in ARE activation we show that: 1) transfection of IMR-32 cells with constitutively active PI3-kinase selectively activated the ARE in a dose-dependent manner that was completely inhibited by treatment with LY 294002; 2) pretreatment of cells with the PI3-kinase inhibitors, LY 294002 and wortmannin, significantly decreased NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) nuclear translocation induced by tBHQ; and 3) ARE activation by constitutively active PI3-kinase was blocked completely by dominant negative Nrf2. Taken together, these data clearly show that ARE activation by tBHQ depends on PI3-kinase, which lies upstream of Nrf2.

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