Send to

Choose Destination
Free Radic Biol Med. 1996;21(3):335-48.

Redox regulation of transcriptional activators.

Author information

Department of Cancer Research, Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Research, Division of Warner-Lambert Company, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA.


Transcription factors/activators are a group of proteins that bind to specific consensus sequences (cis elements) in the promoter regions of downstream target/effector genes and transactivate or repress effector gene expression. The up- or downregulation of effector genes will ultimately lead to many biological changes such as proliferation, growth suppression, differentiation, or senescence. Transcription factors are subject to transcriptional and posttranslational regulation. This review will focus on the redox (reduction/oxidation) regulation of transcription factors/activators with emphasis on p53, AP-1, and NF-kappa B. The redox regulation of transcriptional activators occurs through highly conserved cysteine residues in the DNA binding domains of these proteins. In vitro studies have shown that reducing environments increase, while oxidizing conditions inhibit sequence-specific DNA binding of these transcriptional activators. When intact cells have been used for study, a more complex regulation has been observed. Reduction/oxidation can either up- or downregulate DNA binding and/or transactivation activities in transcriptional activator-dependent as well as cell type-dependent manners. In general, reductants decrease p53 and NF-kappa B activities but dramatically activate AP-1 activity. Oxidants, on the other hand, greatly activate NF-kappa B activity. Furthermore, redox-induced biochemical alterations sometimes lead to change in the biological functions of these proteins. Therefore, differential regulation of these transcriptional activators, which in turn, regulate many target/effector genes, may provide an additional mechanism by which small antioxidant molecules play protective roles in anticancer and antiaging processes. Better understanding of the mechanism of redox regulation, particularly in vivo, will have an important impact on drug discovery for chemoprevention and therapy of human disease such as cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center