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The synthetic organoselenium agent 1,4-phenylenebis(methylene)selenocyanate (p-XSC) and its glutathione (GSH) conjugate (p-XSeSG) are potent chemopreventive agents in several preclinical models. p-XSC is also an effective inducer of GSH in mouse lung. Our objectives were to test the hypothesis that GSH induction by p-XSC occurs through upregulation of the rate-limiting GSH biosynthetic enzyme glutamylcysteine ligase (GCL), through activation of antioxidant response elements (AREs) in GCL genes via activation of nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). p-XSC feeding (10 ppm Se) increased GSH (230%) and upregulated the catalytic subunit of GCL (GCLc) (55%), extracellular-related kinase (220%), and nuclear Nrf2 (610%) in lung but not liver after 14 days in the rat (P<0.05). Similarly, p-XSeSG feeding (10 ppm) induced lung GCLc (88%) and GSH (200%) (P<0.05), whereas the naturally occurring selenomethionine had no effect. Both p-XSC and p-XSeSG activated a luciferase reporter in HepG2 ARE-reporter cells up to threefold for p-XSC and greater than or equal to fivefold for p-XSeSG. Luciferase activation by p-XSeSG was associated with enhanced levels of GSH, GCLc, and nuclear Nrf2, which were significantly reduced by co-incubation with short interfering RNA targeting Nrf2. The dependence of GCL induction on Nrf2 was confirmed in Nrf2-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblasts, in which p-XSeSG induced GCL subunits in wild-type but not in Nrf2-deficient cells (P<0.05). These results indicate that p-XSC may act through the Nrf2 pathway in vivo and that p-XSeSG is the putative metabolite responsible for such activation, thus offering p-XSeSG as a less toxic, yet highly efficacious, inducer of GSH. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Sans W Emmert, Karam El-Bayoumy, Arunangshu Das, Yuan-Wan Sun, Shantu Amin, Dhimant Desai, Cesar Aliaga, John P Richie. Induction of lung glutathione and glutamylcysteine ligase by 1,4-phenylenebis(methylene)selenocyanate and its glutathione conjugate: role of nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2. Free radical biology & medicine. 2012 May 15;52(10):2064-71

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PMID: 22542796

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