MicroRNA-7 activates Nrf2 pathway by targeting Keap1 expression

Savan Kabaria, Doo Chul Choi, Amrita Datta Chaudhuri, Mohit Raja Jain, Hong Li, Eunsung Junn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a key transcription factor that regulates the expression of a number of antioxidant and detoxifying genes that provide cellular protection against various stressors including reactive oxygen species (ROS). Nrf2 activity is tightly regulated by a cytoplasmic inhibitory protein called Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1). The mechanism that controls Keap1 expression, however, remains poorly understood. In the present study, we demonstrate that microRNA-7 (miR-7), which is highly expressed in the brain, represses Keap1 expression by targeting the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of its mRNA in human neuroblastoma cells, SH-SY5Y. Subsequently, this event results in an increased Nrf2 activity, as evidenced by an increase in the expression of its transcriptional targets, heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) and glutamate-cysteine ligase modifier subunit (GCLM), and an enhanced nuclear localization of Nrf2. In addition, miR-7 decreases the intracellular hydroperoxides level and increases the level of reduced form of glutathione, indicative of oxidative stress relief. We also demonstrate that targeted repression of Keap1 and activation of Nrf2 pathway, in part, underlies the protective effects of miR-7 against 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+)-induced toxicity in SH-SY5Y and differentiated human neural progenitor cells, ReNcell VM. These findings point to a new mechanism by which miR-7 exerts cytoprotective effects by regulating the Nrf2 pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)548-556
Number of pages9
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


  • Keap1
  • MPP
  • MicroRNA-7
  • Nrf2
  • Oxidativestress
  • Parkinson'sdisease


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