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The objective of this study was to determine the role of individual NFAT isoforms in TNFα-induced retinal leukostasis. To this end, human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRMEC) transfected with siRNA targeting individual NFAT isoforms were treated with TNFα, and qRT-PCR was used to examine the contribution of each isoform to the TNFα-induced upregulation of leukocyte adhesion proteins. This showed that NFATc1 siRNA increased ICAM1 expression, NFATc2 siRNA reduced CX3CL1, VCAM1, SELE, and ICAM1 expression, NFATc3 siRNA increased CX3CL1 and SELE expression, and NFATc4 siRNA reduced SELE expression. Transfected HRMEC monolayers were also treated with TNFα and assayed using a parallel plate flow chamber, and both NFATc2 and NFATc4 knockdown reduced TNFα-induced cell adhesion. The effect of isoform-specific knockdown on TNFα-induced cytokine production was also measured using protein ELISAs and conditioned cell culture medium, and showed that NFATc4 siRNA reduced CXCL10, CXCL11, and MCP-1 protein levels. Lastly, the CN/NFAT-signaling inhibitor INCA-6 was shown to reduce TNFα-induced retinal leukostasis in vivo. Together, these studies show a clear role for NFAT-signaling in TNFα-induced retinal leukostasis, and identify NFATc2 and NFATc4 as potentially valuable therapeutic targets for treating retinopathies in which TNFα plays a pathogenic role.
TNFα has been identified as playing an important role in pathologic complications associated with diabetic retinopathy and retinal inflammation, such as retinal leukostasis. However, the transcriptional effects of TNFα on retinal microvascular endothelial cells and the different signaling pathways involved are not yet fully understood. In the present study, RNA-seq was used to profile the transcriptome of human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRMEC) treated for 4 hours with TNFα in the presence or absence of the NFAT-specific inhibitor INCA-6, in order to gain insight into the specific effects of TNFα on RMEC and identify any involvement of NFAT signaling. Differential expression analysis revealed that TNFα treatment significantly upregulated the expression of 579 genes when compared to vehicle-treated controls, and subsequent pathway analysis revealed a TNFα-induced enrichment of transcripts associated with cytokine-cytokine receptor interactions, cell adhesion molecules, and leukocyte transendothelial migration. Differential expression analysis comparing TNFα-treated cells to those co-treated with INCA-6 revealed 10 genes whose expression was significantly reduced by the NFAT inhibitor, including those encoding the proteins VCAM1 and CX3CL1 and cytokines CXCL10 and CXCL11. This study identifies the transcriptional effects of TNFα on HRMEC, highlighting its involvement in multiple pathways that contribute to retinal leukostasis, and identifying a previously unknown role for NFAT-signaling downstream of TNFα.
Metastatic recurrence is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in patients with colorectal carcinoma. To capture the molecular underpinnings for metastasis and tumor progression, we performed integrative network analysis on 11 independent human colorectal cancer gene expression datasets and applied expression data from an immunocompetent mouse model of metastasis as an additional filter for this biologic process. In silico analysis of one metastasis-related coexpression module predicted nuclear factor of activated T-cell (NFAT) transcription factors as potential regulators for the module. Cells selected for invasiveness and metastatic capability expressed higher levels of NFATc1 as compared with poorly metastatic and less invasive parental cells. We found that inhibition of NFATc1 in human and mouse colon cancer cells resulted in decreased invasiveness in culture and downregulation of metastasis-related network genes. Overexpression of NFATc1 significantly increased the metastatic potential of colon cancer cells, whereas inhibition of NFATc1 reduced metastasis growth in an immunocompetent mouse model. Finally, we found that an 8-gene signature comprising genes upregulated by NFATc1 significantly correlated with worse clinical outcomes in stage II and III colorectal cancer patients. Thus, NFATc1 regulates colon cancer cell behavior and its transcriptional targets constitute a novel, biologically anchored gene expression signature for the identification of colon cancers with high risk of metastatic recurrence.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.
NFAT transcription factors play critical roles in both the activation and repression of T and B lymphocyte responses. To understand the role of NFATc2 (NFAT1) in the maintenance of tolerance for anti-insulin B cells, functionally inactive NFATc2 (NFATc2(-/-)) was introduced into C57BL/6 mice that harbor anergic anti-insulin 125Tg B cells. The production and peripheral maturation of anti-insulin B cells into follicular and marginal zone subsets was not altered by the absence of functional NFATc2. Surface B cell receptor expression levels, important for tonic signaling and altered by anergy, were not altered in any spleen B cell subset. The levels of anti-insulin antibodies were not different in 125Tg/B6/NFATc2(-/-) mice and the anti-insulin response remained silenced following T cell dependent immunization. However, studies addressing in vitro proliferation reveal the anergic state of 125Tg B cells is relieved in 125Tg/B6/NFATc2(-/-) B cells in response to BCR stimulation. In contrast, anergy is not released in 125Tg/B6/NFATc2(-/-) B cells following stimulation with anti-CD40. The relief of anergy to BCR stimulation in 125Tg/B6/NFATc2(-/-) B cells is associated with increased transcription of both NFATc1 and NFATc3 while expression of these NFATs does not change in anti-IgM stimulated 125Tg/B6/NFATc2(+/+) B cells. The data suggest that NFATc2 plays a subtle and selective role in maintaining anergy for BCR stimulation by repressing the transcription of other NFAT family members.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
NFAT (the nuclear factor of activated T cells) upregulation has been linked to cellular transformation intrinsically, but it is unclear whether and how tissue cells with NFAT activation change the local environment for tumor initiation and progression. Direct evidence showing NFAT activation initiates primary tumor formation in vivo is also lacking. Using inducible transgenic mouse systems, we show that tumors form in a subset of, but not all, tissues with NFATc1 activation, indicating that NFAT oncogenic effects depend on cell types and tissue contexts. In NFATc1-induced skin and ovarian tumors, both cells with NFATc1 activation and neighboring cells without NFATc1 activation have significant upregulation of c-Myc and activation of Stat3. Besides known and suspected NFATc1 targets, such as Spp1 and Osm, we have revealed the early upregulation of a number of cytokines and cytokine receptors, as key molecular components of an inflammatory microenvironment that promotes both NFATc1(+) and NFATc1(-) cells to participate in tumor formation. Cultured cells derived from NFATc1-induced tumors were able to establish a tumorigenic microenvironment, similar to that of the primary tumors, in an NFATc1-dependent manner in nude mice with T-cell deficiency, revealing an addiction of these tumors to NFATc1 activation and downplaying a role for T cells in the NFATc1-induced tumorigenic microenvironment. These findings collectively suggest that beyond the cell autonomous effects on the upregulation of oncogenic proteins, NFATc1 activation has non-cell autonomous effects through the establishment of a promitogenic microenvironment for tumor growth. This study provides direct evidence for the ability of NFATc1 in inducing primary tumor formation in vivo and supports targeting NFAT signaling in anti-tumor therapy.
RATIONALE - Formation of heart valves requires early endocardial to mesenchymal transformation (EMT) to generate valve mesenchyme and subsequent endocardial cell proliferation to elongate valve leaflets. Nfatc1 (nuclear factor of activated T cells, cytoplasmic 1) is highly expressed in valve endocardial cells and is required for normal valve formation, but its role in the fate of valve endocardial cells during valve development is unknown.
OBJECTIVE - Our aim was to investigate the function of Nfatc1 in cell-fate decision making by valve endocardial cells during EMT and early valve elongation.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Nfatc1 transcription enhancer was used to generate a novel valve endocardial cell-specific Cre mouse line for fate-mapping analyses of valve endocardial cells. The results demonstrate that a subpopulation of valve endocardial cells marked by the Nfatc1 enhancer do not undergo EMT. Instead, these cells remain within the endocardium as a proliferative population to support valve leaflet extension. In contrast, loss of Nfatc1 function leads to enhanced EMT and decreased proliferation of valve endocardium and mesenchyme. The results of blastocyst complementation assays show that Nfatc1 inhibits EMT in a cell-autonomous manner. We further reveal by gene expression studies that Nfatc1 suppresses transcription of Snail1 and Snail2, the key transcriptional factors for initiation of EMT.
CONCLUSIONS - These results show that Nfatc1 regulates the cell-fate decision making of valve endocardial cells during valve development and coordinates EMT and valve elongation by allocating endocardial cells to the 2 morphological events essential for valve development.
Identification of multipotent cardiac progenitors has provided important insights into the mechanisms of myocardial lineage specification, yet has done little to clarify the origin of the endocardium. Despite its essential role in heart development, characterization of the endocardial lineage has been limited by the lack of specific markers of this early vascular subpopulation. To distinguish endocardium from other vasculature, we generated an NFATc1-nuc-LacZ BAC transgenic mouse line capable of labeling this specific endothelial subpopulation at the earliest stages of cardiac development. To further characterize endocardiogenesis, embryonic stem cells (ESCs) derived from NFATc1-nuc-LacZ blastocysts were utilized to demonstrate that endocardial differentiation in vitro recapitulates the close temporal-spatial relationship observed between myocardium and endocardium seen in vivo. Endocardium is specified as a cardiac cell lineage, independent from other vascular populations, responding to BMP and Wnt signals that enhance cardiomyocyte differentiation. Furthermore, a population of Flk1+ cardiovascular progenitors, distinct from hemangioblast precursors, represents a mesodermal precursor of the endocardial endothelium, as well as other cardiovascular lineages. Taken together, these studies emphasize that the endocardium is a unique cardiac lineage and provides further evidence that endocardium and myocardium are derived from a common precursor.
Inflammatory processes are prominent in various types of human and experimental pulmonary hypertension (PH) and are increasingly recognized as major pathogenic components of pulmonary vascular remodeling. Macrophages, T and B lymphocytes, and dendritic cells are present in the vascular lesions of PH, whether in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) or PAH related to more classical forms of inflammatory syndromes such as connective tissue diseases, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or other viral etiologies. Similarly, the presence of circulating chemokines and cytokines, viral protein components (e.g., HIV-1 Nef), and increased expression of growth (such as vascular endothelial growth factor and platelet-derived growth factor) and transcriptional (e.g., nuclear factor of activated T cells or NFAT) factors in these patients are thought to contribute directly to further recruitment of inflammatory cells and proliferation of smooth muscle and endothelial cells. Other processes, such as mitochondrial and ion channel dysregulation, seem to convey a state of cellular resistance to apoptosis; this has recently emerged as a necessary event in the pathogenesis of pulmonary vascular remodeling. Thus, the recognition of complex inflammatory disturbances in the vascular remodeling process offers potential specific targets for therapy and has recently led to clinical trials investigating, for example, the use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors. This paper provides an overview of specific inflammatory pathways involving cells, chemokines and cytokines, cellular dysfunctions, growth factors, and viral proteins, highlighting their potential role in pulmonary vascular remodeling and the possibility of future targeted therapy.
Recovery from acute kidney injury requires regeneration of tubule cells. Because calcineurin induces nuclear transport of NFATc proteins, whose expression pattern correlates with the nephron segments injured by calcineurin inhibitors, we hypothesized that NFATc1 plays a role in modifying epithelial regeneration after injury. To test this, we induced proximal tubular cell (PTC) injury in Balb/c mice and Nfatc1(+/-) mice with mercuric chloride; the PTCs of Nfatc1(+/-) mice demonstrated increased apoptosis, sustained injury, and delayed regeneration. To attenuate NFATc1 activity further, we injected cyclosporin A daily. Cyclosporin A-treated Nfatc1(+/-) mice demonstrated rapid and severe injury after administration of mercuric chloride, with increased serum creatinine, increased apoptosis, decreased PTC proliferation, and increased mortality compared with similarly treated wild-type mice. Using a novel NFATc1 transgenic line that reports activation of an NFATc1 enhancer domain critical for NFATc1 autoamplification, we demonstrated accentuated NFATc1 expression in a PTC subpopulation after mercuric chloride-induced injury. In addition, NFATc1-labeled, apoptosis-resistant PTCs proliferated to repair the damaged proximal tubule segment. These data provide evidence for a resident progenitor PTC population and suggest a role for NFATc1 in the regeneration of injured proximal tubules.