Wdr1 and cofilin are necessary mediators of immune-cell-specific apoptosis triggered by Tecfidera

Jesse R. Poganik, Kuan Ting Huang, Saba Parvez, Yi Zhao, Sruthi Raja, Marcus J.C. Long*, Yimon Aye*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Despite the emerging importance of reactive electrophilic drugs, deconvolution of their principal targets remains difficult. The lack of genetic tractability/interventions and reliance on secondary validation using other non-specific compounds frequently complicate the earmarking of individual binders as functionally- or phenotypically-sufficient pathway regulators. Using a redox-targeting approach to interrogate how on-target binding of pleiotropic electrophiles translates to a phenotypic output in vivo, we here systematically track the molecular components attributable to innate immune cell toxicity of the electrophilic-drug dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera®). In a process largely independent of canonical Keap1/Nrf2-signaling, Keap1-specific modification triggers mitochondrial-targeted neutrophil/macrophage apoptosis. On-target Keap1–ligand-engagement is accompanied by dissociation of Wdr1 from Keap1 and subsequent coordination with cofilin, intercepting Bax. This phagocytic-specific cell-killing program is recapitulated by whole-animal administration of dimethyl fumarate, where individual depletions of the players identified above robustly suppress apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5736
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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