Limited expression of Nrf2 in neurons across the central nervous system

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Nrf2, encoded by the gene Nfe2l2, is a broadly expressed transcription factor that regulates gene expression in response to reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress. It is commonly referred to as a ubiquitous pathway, but this generalization overlooks work indicating that Nrf2 is essentially unexpressed in some neuronal populations. To explore whether this pattern extends throughout the central nervous system (CNS), we quantified Nfe2l2 expression and chromatin accessibility at the Nfe2l2 locus across multiple single cell datasets. In both the mouse and human CNS, Nfe2l2 was repressed in almost all mature neurons, but highly expressed in non-neuronal support cells, and this pattern was robust across multiple human CNS diseases. A subset of key Nrf2 target genes, like Slc7a11, also remained low in neurons. Thus, these data suggest that while most cells express Nfe2l2, with activity determined by ROS levels, neurons actively avoid Nrf2 activity by keeping Nfe2l2 expression low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102830
JournalRedox Biology
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • Brain
  • Gene expression
  • Neuron
  • NRF2
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Single cell RNA-seq

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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