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BMC Cancer. 2019 Nov 21;19(1):1137. doi: 10.1186/s12885-019-6347-0.

Nrf2 gene mutation and single nucleotide polymorphism rs6721961 of the Nrf2 promoter region in renal cell cancer.

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Department of Urology, Dokkyo Medical University, 880 Kitakobayashi Mibu, Tochigi, 321-0293, Japan.
Department of Urology, Dokkyo Medical University, 880 Kitakobayashi Mibu, Tochigi, 321-0293, Japan.
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Dokkyo Medical University, Mibu, Tochigi, Japan.
Division of Field Application, Life Technologies, Tokyo, Japan.



Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is involved in cell proliferation by promotion of metabolic activity. It is also the major regulator of antioxidants and has a pivotal role in tumor cell proliferation and resistance to chemotherapy. Accordingly, we investigated the role of Nrf2 in renal cell carcinoma (RCC).


In 50 patients who had metastatic RCC and received cytoreductive nephrectomy, we performed Nrf2 gene mutation analysis using targeted next-generation sequencing, as well as investigating a specific single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP; rs6721961) in the Nrf2 promoter region and Nrf2 protein expression.


Targeted next-generation sequencing revealed that five tumors had SNPs of Nrf2 associated with amino acid sequence variation, while 11 tumors had SNPs of Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 gene, 35 had SNPs of von Hippel-Lindau gene, and none had SNPs of fumarate hydratase gene. The three genotypes of rs6721961 showed the following frequencies: 60% for C/C, 34% for C/A, and 6% for A/A. Nrf2 mutation and the C/A or A/A genotypes were significantly associated with increased Nrf2 protein expression (p = 0.0184 and p = 0.0005, respectively). When the primary tumor showed Nrf2 gene mutation, the C/A or A/A genotype, or elevated Nrf2 protein expression, the response of metastases to vascular endothelial growth factor-targeting therapy was significantly worse (p = 0.0142, p = 0.0018, and p <  0.0001, respectively), and overall survival was significantly reduced (p = 0.0343, p = 0.0421, and p <  0.0001, respectively). Elevated Nrf2 protein expression was also associated with shorter survival according to multivariate Cox proportional analysis.


These findings suggest an associated between progression of RCC and Nrf2 signaling.


Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1); Nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2); Renal cell carcinoma; Single nucleotide polymorphism

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