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Oncol Rep. 2012 Dec;28(6):1959-67. doi: 10.3892/or.2012.2057. Epub 2012 Sep 26.

Molecular and genomic approach for understanding the gene-environment interaction between Nrf2 deficiency and carcinogenic nickel-induced DNA damage.

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  • 1Department of Life Science, Dongguk University, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-715, Republic of Korea.


Nickel (Ⅱ) is a toxic and carcinogenic metal which induces a redox imbalance following oxidative stress. Nuclear factor erythroid-2 related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a redox factor that regulates oxidation/reduction status and consequently mediates cytoprotective responses against exposure to environmental toxicants. In this study, we investigated the protective roles of the Nrf2 gene against oxidative stress and DNA damage induced by nickel at sub-lethal doses. Under nickel exposure conditions, we detected significantly increased intracellular ROS generation, in addition to higher amounts of DNA damage using comet assay and γ-H2AX immunofluorescence staining in Nrf2 lacking cells, as compared to Nrf2 wild-type cells. In addition, we attempted to identify potential nickel and Nrf2-responsive targets and the relevant pathway. The genomic expression data were analyzed using microarray for the selection of synergistic effect-related genes by Nrf2 knockdown under nickel treatment. In particular, altered expressions of 6 upregulated genes (CAV1, FOSL2, MICA, PIM2, RUNX1 and SLC7A6) and 4 downregulated genes (APLP1, CLSPN, PCAF and PRAME) were confirmed by qRT-PCR. Additionally, using bioinformatics tool, we found that these genes functioned principally in a variety of molecular processes, including oxidative stress response, necrosis, DNA repair and cell survival. Thus, we describe the potential biomarkers regarded as molecular candidates for Nrf2-related cellular protection against nickel exposure. In conclusion, these findings indicate that Nrf2 is an important factor with a protective role in the suppression of mutagenicity and carcinogenicity by environmental nickel exposure in terms of gene-environment interaction.

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