The protein known as Nrf2 plays a key role in cell health. When Nrf2 is exposed to threats, it oscillates faster and activates an increase in the cell’s defense mechanism, including raising the levels of antioxidant.
Paul Thornalley, from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, and colleagues observed that sulforaphane in broccoli and quercetin in onions are capable of increasing Nrf2 movement.
Observing a continual movement cycle of Nrf2, which sees the protein oscillate in and out of the cell nucleus once every 129 minutes, the team found that sulforaphane and quercetin sped up the cycle to 80 minutes. “We discovered [the] cytoplasmic refresh rate of Nrf2 is important in maintaining and regulating the transcriptional response and links stress challenge to increased cytoplasmic surveillance,” said the researchers, who now aim to develop new food supplements—superfoods that stimulate Nrf2 activity.
Xue, M., et al. (2014) Frequency modulated translocational oscillations of Nrf2 mediate the ARE cytoprotective transcriptional response. Antioxid Redox Signal. Published online September 2.
—Dr. Bob Goldman
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