Selenite cataracts: Activation of endoplasmic reticulum stress and loss of Nrf2/Keap1-dependent stress protection

Periyasamy Palsamy, Keshore R. Bidasee, Toshimichi Shinohara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Cataract-induced by sodium selenite in suckling rats is one of the suitable animal models to study the basic mechanism of human cataract formation. The aim of this present investigation is to study the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-mediated activation of unfolded protein response (UPR), overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and suppression of Nrf2/Keap1-dependent antioxidant protection through endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD) pathway and Keap1 promoter DNA demethylation in human lens epithelial cells (HLECs) treated with sodium selenite. Lenses enucleated from sodium selenite injected rats generated overproduction of ROS in lens epithelial cells and newly formed lens fiber cells resulting in massive lens epithelial cells death after 1-5days. All these lenses developed nuclear cataracts after 4-5days. Sodium selenite treated HLECs induced ER stress and activated the UPR leading to release of Ca2+ from ER, ROS overproduction and finally HLECs death. Sodium selenite also activated the mRNA expressions of passive DNA demethylation pathway enzymes such as Dnmt1, Dnmt3a, and Dnmt3b, and active DNA demethylation pathway enzyme, Tet1 leading to DNA demethylation in the Keap1 promoter of HLECs. This demethylated Keap1 promoter results in overexpression of Keap1 mRNA and protein. Overexpression Keap1 protein suppresses the Nrf2 protein through ERAD leading to suppression of Nrf2/Keap1 dependent antioxidant protection in the HLECs treated with sodium selenite. As an outcome, the cellular redox status is altered towards lens oxidation and results in cataract formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1794-1805
Number of pages12
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Cataract
  • ER stress
  • Human lens epithelial cells
  • Keap1 promoter demethylation
  • Sodium selenite
  • Unfolded protein response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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