Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Reversible Keap1 inhibitors are preferential pharmacological tools to modulate cellular mitophagy

Georgakopoulos, N D; Frison, M; Alvarez, M S; Bertrand, H; Wells, G; Campanella, M


N D Georgakopoulos

M Frison

M S Alvarez

H Bertrand

G Wells

M Campanella


Mitophagy orchestrates the autophagic degradation of dysfunctional mitochondria preventing their pathological accumulation and contributing to cellular homeostasis. We previously identified a novel chemical tool (hereafter referred to as PMI), which drives mitochondria into autophagy without collapsing their membrane potential (ΔΨm). PMI is an inhibitor of the protein-protein interaction (PPI) between the transcription factor Nrf2 and its negative regulator, Keap1 and is able to up-regulate the expression of autophagy-associated proteins, including p62/SQSTM1. Here we show that PMI promotes mitochondrial respiration, leading to a superoxide-dependent activation of mitophagy. Structurally distinct Keap1-Nrf2 PPI inhibitors promote mitochondrial turnover, while covalent Keap1 modifiers, including sulforaphane (SFN) and dimethyl fumarate (DMF), are unable to induce a similar response. Additionally, we demonstrate that SFN reverses the effects of PMI in co-treated cells by reducing the accumulation of p62 in mitochondria and subsequently limiting their autophagic degradation. This study highlights the unique features of Keap1-Nrf2 PPI inhibitors as inducers of mitophagy and their potential as pharmacological agents for the treatment of pathological conditions characterized by impaired mitochondrial quality control.


Georgakopoulos, N. D., Frison, M., Alvarez, M. S., Bertrand, H., Wells, G., & Campanella, M. (2017). Reversible Keap1 inhibitors are preferential pharmacological tools to modulate cellular mitophagy.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 29, 2017
Publication Date Sep 4, 2017
Deposit Date Sep 22, 2017
Publicly Available Date Sep 22, 2017
Journal Scientific Reports (Nature)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Pages 10303
Public URL


Downloadable Citations