Cigarette smoke regulates the competitive interactions between NRF2 and BACH1 for heme oxygenase-1 induction

Wen Hsin Chang, Philip Thai, Jihao Xu, David C. Yang, Reen Wu, Ching-Hsien Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Cigarette smoke has been shown to trigger aberrant signaling pathways and pathophysiological processes; however, the regulatory mechanisms underlying smoke-induced gene expression remain to be established. Herein, we observed that two smoke-responsive genes, HO-1 and CYP1A1, are robustly induced upon smoke by different mechanisms in human bronchial epithelia. CYP1A1 is mediated by aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling, while induction of HO-1 is regulated by oxidative stress, and suppressed by N-acetylcysteine treatment. In light of a pivotal role of NRF2 and BACH1 in response to oxidative stress and regulation of HO-1, we examined if smoke-induced HO-1 expression is modulated through the NRF2/BACH1 axis. We demonstrated that smoke causes significant nuclear translocation of NRF2, but only a slight decrease in nuclear BACH1. Knockdown of NRF2 attenuated smoke-induced HO-1 expression while down-regulation of BACH1 had stimulatory effects on both basal and smoke-induced HO-1 with trivial influence on NRF2 nuclear translocation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that smoke augments promoter-specific DNA binding of NRF2 but suppresses BACH1 binding to the HO-1 promoter ARE sites, two of which at −1.0 kb and −2.6 kb are newly identified. These results suggest that the regulation of NRF2 activator and BACH1 repressor binding to the ARE sites are critical for smoke-mediated HO-1 induction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2386
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 10 2017


  • Airway epithelium
  • Gene regulation
  • HO-1
  • NRF2
  • Smoke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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