Pirin, an Nrf2-regulated protein, is overexpressed in human colorectal tumors

Ying Zhang, Elena V. Knatko, Maureen Higgins, Sharadha Dayalan Naidu, Gillian Smith, Tadashi Honda, Laureano de la Vega, Albena T. Dinkova-Kostova (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
88 Downloads (Pure)


The evolutionary conserved non-heme Fe-containing protein pirin has been implicated as an important factor in cell proliferation, migration, invasion, and tumour progression of melanoma, breast, lung, cervical, prostate, and oral cancers. Here we found that pirin is overexpressed in human colorectal cancer in comparison with matched normal tissue. The overexpression of pirin correlates with activation of transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and increased expression of the classical Nrf2 target NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1), but interestingly and unexpectedly, not with expression of the aldo-keto reductase (AKR) family members AKR1B10 and AKR1C1, which are considered to be the most overexpressed genes in response to Nrf2 activation in humans. Using pharmacologic and genetic approaches to either downregulate or upregulate Nrf2, we show that pirin is regulated by Nrf2 in human and mouse cells and in the mouse colon in vivo. The small molecule pirin inhibitor TPhA decreased the viability of human colorectal cancer (DLD1) cells, but this decrease was independent of the levels of pirin. Our study demonstrates the Nrf2-dependent regulation of pirin and encourages the pursuit for specific pirin inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number262
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2022


  • AKR1B10
  • AKR1C1
  • colorectal cancer
  • DLD1
  • Nrf2
  • NQO1
  • pirin


Dive into the research topics of 'Pirin, an Nrf2-regulated protein, is overexpressed in human colorectal tumors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this