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Trends Mol Med. 2004 Nov;10(11):549-57.

Nrf2-Keap1 defines a physiologically important stress response mechanism.

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  • 1Center for Tsukuba Advanced Research Alliance, Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology-Japan Science and Technology Corporation, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba 305-8577, Japan.


The transcription factor Nrf2 regulates the basal and inducible expression of numerous detoxifying and antioxidant genes. The cytoplasmic protein Keap1 interacts with Nrf2 and represses its function. Analysis of keap1-knockout mice provides solid evidence that Keap1 acts as a negative regulator of Nrf2 and as a sensor of xenobiotic and oxidative stresses. The simultaneous ablation of the keap1 and nrf2 genes reversed all apparent phenotypes of the Keap1-deficient mice, suggesting that Nrf2 is a primary target of Keap1. The Nrf2-Keap1 system is now recognized as one of the major cellular defence mechanisms against oxidative and xenobiotic stresses. Furthermore, extensive studies have suggested that the Nrf2-Keap1 system contributes to protection against various pathologies, including carcinogenesis, liver toxicity, respiratory distress and inflammation.

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