Copper Activation of NF-κB Signaling in HepG2 Cells

Matthew K. McElwee, Min Ok Song, Jonathan H. Freedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Copper is a persistent environmental contaminant, and exposure to elevated levels of this transition metal can result in a variety of pathologies. Copper affects the transcription of multiple defense and repair genes to protect against metal-induced pathologies. HepG2 cells were treated with copper under multiple conditions and microarray analyses were previously performed to better understand the mechanisms by which copper affects the transcription of stress-responsive genes. Analysis of the microarray data indicated that copper modulates multiple signal transduction pathways, including those mediated by NF-κB. Luciferase assays, quantitative reverse transcription real-time PCR, and chemical inhibition in HepG2 cells validated the microarray results and confirmed that NF-κB was activated by stress-inducible concentrations of copper. In addition, two novel NF-κB-regulated genes, SRXN1 (sulfiredoxin 1 homolog) and ZFAND2A (zinc-finger, AN1-type domain 2A), were identified. Our results indicate that the activation of NF-κB may be important for survival under elevated concentrations of copper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1021
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 13 2009


  • HepG2 cells
  • NF-κB
  • copper
  • gene expression
  • microarray

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