The osmosensitive transcription factor nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) 5, also known as tonicity enhancer binding protein (TonEBP), has been associated with the development of a variety of tumor entities, among them breast cancer, colon carcinoma, and melanoma. The aim of the present study was to determine whether NFAT5 is also involved in the development of renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The most common type of RCC, the clear cell RCC, originates from the proximal convoluted tubule. We tested our hypothesis in the clear cell RCC cell line CaKi-1 and the non-cancerous proximal tubule cell line HK-2, as control. Basal expression of NFAT5 and NFAT5 activity in CaKi-1 cells was several times higher than in HK-2 cells. Osmotic stress induced an increased NFAT5 activity in both CaKi-1 and HK-2 cells, again with significantly higher activities in CaKi-1 cells. Analysis of NFAT5-regulating signaling pathways in CaKi-1 cells revealed that inhibition of the MAP kinases p38, c-Jun-terminal kinase (JNK) and extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) and of the focal adhesion kinase (FAK) partially blunted NFAT5 activity. FAK and ERK were both constitutively active, even under isotonic conditions, which may contribute to the high basal expression and activity of NFAT5 in CaKi-1 cells. In contrast, the MAP kinases p38 and JNK were inactive under isotonic conditions and became activated under osmotic stress conditions, indicating that p38 and JNK mediate upregulation of NFAT5 activity under these conditions. siRNA-mediated knockdown of NFAT5 in CaKi-1 cells reduced the expression of S100A4, a member of the S100 family of proteins, which promotes metastasis. Knockdown of NFAT5 was accompanied by a significant decrease in proliferation and migration activity. Taken together, our results indicate that NFAT5 induces S100A4 expression in CaKi-1 cells, thereby playing an important role in RCC proliferation and migration.
TonEBP/NFAT5 is a major regulator of the urinary concentrating process and is essential for the osmoadaptation of renal medullary cells. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a mechanosensitive non-receptor protein tyrosine kinase expressed abundantly in the renal medulla. Since osmotic stress causes cell shrinkage, the present study investigated the contribution of FAK on TonEBP/NFAT5 activation. Osmotic stress induced time-dependent activation of FAK as evidenced by phosphorylation at Tyr-397, and furosemide reduces FAK Tyr-397 phosphorylation in the rat renal medulla. Both pharmacological inhibition of FAK and siRNA-mediated knockdown of FAK drastically reduced TonEBP/NFAT5 transcriptional activity and target gene expression in HEK293 cells. This effect was not mediated by impaired nuclear translocation or by reduced transactivating activity of TonEBP/NFAT5. However, TonEBP/NFAT5 abundance under hypertonic conditions was diminished by 50% by FAK inhibition or siRNA knockdown of FAK. FAK inhibition only marginally reduced transcription of the TonEBP/NFAT5 gene. Rather, TonEBP/NFAT5 mRNA stability was diminished significantly by FAK inhibition, which correlated with reduced reporter activity of the TonEBP/NFAT5 mRNA 3' untranslated region (3'-UTR). In conclusion, FAK is a major regulator of TonEBP/NFAT5 activity by increasing its abundance via stabilization of the mRNA. This in turn, depends on the presence of the TonEBP/NFAT5 3'-UTR.
The skin interstitium sequesters excess Na+ and Cl- in salt-sensitive hypertension. Mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS) cells are recruited to the skin, sense the hypertonic electrolyte accumulation in skin, and activate the tonicity-responsive enhancer-binding protein (TONEBP, also known as NFAT5) to initiate expression and secretion of VEGFC, which enhances electrolyte clearance via cutaneous lymph vessels and increases eNOS expression in blood vessels. It is unclear whether this local MPS response to osmotic stress is important to systemic blood pressure control. Herein, we show that deletion of TonEBP in mouse MPS cells prevents the VEGFC response to a high-salt diet (HSD) and increases blood pressure. Additionally, an antibody that blocks the lymph-endothelial VEGFC receptor, VEGFR3, selectively inhibited MPS-driven increases in cutaneous lymphatic capillary density, led to skin Cl- accumulation, and induced salt-sensitive hypertension. Mice overexpressing soluble VEGFR3 in epidermal keratinocytes exhibited hypoplastic cutaneous lymph capillaries and increased Na+, Cl-, and water retention in skin and salt-sensitive hypertension. Further, we found that HSD elevated skin osmolality above plasma levels. These results suggest that the skin contains a hypertonic interstitial fluid compartment in which MPS cells exert homeostatic and blood pressure-regulatory control by local organization of interstitial electrolyte clearance via TONEBP and VEGFC/VEGFR3-mediated modification of cutaneous lymphatic capillary function.
Binding of bacterial LPS to the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) complex of inner medullary collecting duct (IMCD) cells plays a central role in recognition of ascending bacterial infections and activation of proinflammatory responses. Since proinflammatory cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 is induced in IMCD cells upon LPS exposure, the present study addressed the question of whether TLR4 mediates COX-2 induction in IMCD cells and characterized the underlying signaling mechanisms. Enhanced COX-2 expression and activity in the presence of LPS was diminished by TLR4 inhibition. LPS induced a TLR4-dependent stimulation of NF-?B and the MAPKs p38, ERK1/2, and JNK. Activation of NF-?B was under negative control of JNK, as inhibition of JNK increased NF-?B activity and COX-2 expression. Phosphorylation of p38 and ERK1/2 required TLR4-dependent release of TGF-? with subsequent activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), whereas JNK activation was EGFR independent. Inhibition of p38 or ERK1/2 had no significant effect on LPS-induced NF-?B activation, nor on activator protein 1-, cAMP response element-, or serum response element-driven reporter constructs. However, the transcriptional regulator SP-1 appears to contribute to COX-2 expression after LPS exposure. In conclusion, these results propose that LPS mediates enhanced COX-2 expression in IMCD cells by 1) TLR4-mediated activation of the NF-?B signaling pathway, 2) TLR4-dependent release of TGF-? with subsequent activation of the EGFR and downstream MAPKs p38 and ERK1/2, and 3) TLR4-mediated, EGFR-independent activation of JNK that negatively regulates NF-?B activation.
During antidiuresis, cell survival in the renal medulla requires cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) activity. We have recently found that prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) promotes cell survival by phosphorylation and, hence, inactivation of the pro-apoptotic protein Bad during hypertonic stress in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells in vitro. Here we determine the role of COX-2-derived PGE(2) on phosphorylation of Bad and medullary apoptosis in vivo using COX-2-deficient mice. Both wild-type and COX-2-knockout mice constitutively expressed Bad in tubular epithelial cells of the renal medulla. Dehydration caused a robust increase in papillary COX-2 expression, PGE2 excretion, and Bad phosphorylation in wild-type, but not in the knockout mice. The abundance of cleaved caspase-3, a marker of apoptosis, was significantly higher in papillary homogenates, especially in tubular epithelial cells of the knockout mice. Knockdown of Bad in MDCK cells decreased tonicity-induced caspase-3 activation. Furthermore, the addition of PGE2 to cells with knockdown of Bad had no effect on caspase-3 activation; however, PGE2 caused phosphorylation of Bad and substantially improved cell survival in mock-transfected cells. Thus, tonicity-induced COX-2 expression and PGE2 synthesis in the renal medulla entails phosphorylation and inactivation of the pro-apoptotic protein Bad, thereby counteracting apoptosis in renal medullary epithelial cells.
Nuclear factor of activated T cells 5 (NFAT5) is the most recently described member of the Rel family of transcription factors, including NF-?B and NFAT1-4, which play central roles in inducible gene expression during the immune response. NFAT5 was initially described to drive osmoprotective gene expression in renal medullary cells, which are routinely faced by high extracellular osmolalities. Recent data however indicate profound biological importance of the mammalian osmotic stress response in view of NFAT5 dependent gene regulation in non-renal tissues. In mononuclear cells and epithelial cells, NFAT5 stimulates the expression of various pro-inflammatory cytokines during elevated ambient tonicity. Accordingly, compared to plasma, the interstitial tonicity of lymphoid organs like spleen and thymus and that of liver is substantially hypertonic under physiological conditions. In addition, anisotonic disorders (hypernatremia, diabetes mellitus, dehydration) entail systemic hyperosmolality, and, in inflammatory disorders, the skin, intestine, and cornea are sites of local hyperosmolality. This article summarizes the current knowledge regarding systemic and local osmotic stress in anisotonic and inflammatory disorders in view of NFAT5 activation and regulation, and NFAT5 dependent cytokine production.
During antidiuresis, renal medullary cells adapt to the hyperosmotic interstitial environment by increased expression of osmoprotective genes, which is driven by a common transcriptional activator, tonicity-responsive enhancer binding protein (TonEBP). Because nitric oxide (NO) is abundantly produced in the renal medulla, the present studies addressed the effect of NO on expression of osmoprotective genes and TonEBP activation in MDCK cells. Several structurally unrelated NO donors blunted tonicity-induced up-regulation of TonEBP target genes involved in intracellular accumulation of organic osmolytes. These effects were mediated by reduced transcriptional activity of TonEBP, as assessed by tonicity-responsive elements- and aldose reductase promoter-driven reporter constructs. Neither total TonEBP abundance nor nuclear translocation of TonEBP was affected by NO. Furthermore, 8-bromo-cGMP and peroxynitrite failed to reproduce the inhibitory effect of NO, indicating that NO acts directly on TonEBP rather than through classical NO signaling pathways. In support of this notion, electrophoretic mobility shift assays showed reduced binding of TonEBP to its target sequence in nuclear extracts prepared from MDCK cells treated with NO in vivo and in nuclear extracts exposed to NO in vitro. Furthermore, immunoprecipitation of S-nitrosylated proteins and the biotin-switch method identified TonEBP as a target for S-nitrosylation, which correlates with reduced DNA binding and transcriptional activity. These observations disclose a novel direct inhibitory effect of NO on TonEBP, a phenomenon that may be relevant for regulation of osmoprotective genes in the renal medulla.
Cyooxygenase-2 (COX-2)-derived PGE2 is critical for the integrity and function of renal medullary cells during antidiuresis. The present study extended our previous finding that tonicity-induced COX-2 expression is further stimulated by the major COX-2 product PGE2 and investigated the underlying signaling pathways and the functional relevance of this phenomenon. Hyperosmolality stimulated COX-2 expression and activity in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells, a response that was further increased by PGE2-cAMP signaling, suggesting the existence of a positive feedback loop. This effect was diminished by AH-6809, an EP2 antagonist, and by the PKA inhibitor H-89, but not by AH-23848, an EP4 antagonist. The effect of PGE2 was mimicked by forskolin and dibutyryl-cAMP, suggesting that the stimulatory effect of PGE2 on COX-2 is mediated by a cAMP-PKA-dependent mechanism. Accordingly, cAMP-responsive element (CRE)-driven reporter activity paralleled the effects of PGE2, AH-6809, AH-23848, H-89, forskolin, and dibutyryl-cAMP on COX-2 expression. In addition, the stimulatory effect of PGE2 on tonicity-induced COX-2 expression was blunted in cells transfected with dominant-negative CRE binding (CREB) protein, as was the case in a COX-2 promoter reporter construct in which a putative CRE was deleted. Furthermore, PGE2 resulted in PKA-dependent phosphorylation of the pro-apoptotic protein Bad at Ser155, a mechanism that is known to inactivate Bad, which coincided with reduced caspase-3 activity during osmotic stress. Conversely, pharmacological interruption of the PGE2-EP2-cAMP-PKA pathway abolished Ser155 phosphorylation of Bad and blunted the protective effect of PGE2 on cell survival during osmotic stress. These observations indicate the existence of a positive feedback loop of PGE2 on COX-2 expression during osmotic stress, an effect that apparently is mediated by EP2-cAMP-PKA signaling, and that contributes to cell survival under hypertonic conditions.
Renal medullary cells adapt to their hyperosmotic environment by enhanced expression of various osmoprotective genes. Although it is clearly established that TonEBP contributes to the expression of these genes, neither the precise signaling mechanism by which hypertonicity activates TonEBP is completely understood, nor is it known whether a membrane-bound osmosenser, corresponding to yeast and bacteria, is present in mammalian cells. We found evidence that metalloproteinase (MMP)-dependent activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signals to TonEBP and stimulates the expression of the TonEBP target gene aldose reductase (AR) under hypertonic conditions. Phosphorylation of EGFR and the downstream MAP kinases ERK1/2 and p38 was significantly enhanced by high NaCl in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells. Conversely, the broad-spectrum MMP inhibitor GM6001 or the EGFR inhibitor AG1478 diminished phosphorylation of EGFR, p38, and ERK1/2, the induction of AR mRNA and protein, and AR promoter reporter activity in response to hypertonicity. Accordingly, neutralizing antibodies against the putative EGFR ligand transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha) abolished AR induction during osmotic stress. Furthermore, tonicity-induced phosphorylation of p38 and ERK1/2 and expression of AR were reduced significantly in MDCK cells transfected with a dominant-negative Ras construct. These effects were not caused by reduced nuclear abundance of TonEBP during osmotic stress; however, inhibition of EGFR or p38 diminished TonEBP transactivation activity under hypertonic conditions. The contribution of MMP/EGFR signaling in vivo was confirmed in C57BL/6 mice, in which treatment with GM6001 was associated with reduced AR induction following dehydration. Taken together, these results indicate that osmotic stress induces MMP-dependent activation of EGFR, likely via shedding of TGF-alpha, and downstream activation of Ras and the MAP kinases p38 and ERK1/2, which stimulate TonEBP transactivation activity. This EGFR-Ras-MAPK pathway contributes to TonEBP transcriptional activation and targets gene expression during osmotic stress, thus establishing a membrane-associated signal input that contributes to the regulation of TonEBP activity.
In salt-sensitive hypertension, the accumulation of Na(+) in tissue has been presumed to be accompanied by a commensurate retention of water to maintain the isotonicity of body fluids. We show here that a high-salt diet (HSD) in rats leads to interstitial hypertonic Na(+) accumulation in skin, resulting in increased density and hyperplasia of the lymphcapillary network. The mechanisms underlying these effects on lymphatics involve activation of tonicity-responsive enhancer binding protein (TonEBP) in mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS) cells infiltrating the interstitium of the skin. TonEBP binds the promoter of the gene encoding vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C, encoded by Vegfc) and causes VEGF-C secretion by macrophages. MPS cell depletion or VEGF-C trapping by soluble VEGF receptor-3 blocks VEGF-C signaling, augments interstitial hypertonic volume retention, decreases endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression and elevates blood pressure in response to HSD. Our data show that TonEBP-VEGF-C signaling in MPS cells is a major determinant of extracellular volume and blood pressure homeostasis and identify VEGFC as an osmosensitive, hypertonicity-driven gene intimately involved in salt-induced hypertension.
Increased expression of the C-C chemokine monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) in mesothelial cells in response to high glucose concentrations and/or high osmolality plays a crucial role in the development of peritoneal fibrosis during continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD). Recent studies suggest that in kidney cells osmolality-induced MCP-1 upregulation is mediated by the osmosensitive transcription factor, nuclear factor of activated T cells 5 (NFAT5). The present study addressed the question of whether activation of NFAT5 by hyperosmolality, as present in PD fluids, contributes to MCP-1 expression in the mesothelial cell line Met5A. Hyperosmolality, induced by addition of glucose, NaCl, or mannitol to the growth medium, increased NFAT5 activity and stimulated MCP-1 expression in Met5A cells. siRNA-mediated knockdown of NFAT5 attenuated osmolality-induced MCP-1 upregulation substantially. Hyperosmolality also induced activation of nuclear factor-?B (NF-?B). Accordingly, pharmacological inhibition of NF-?B significantly decreased osmolality-induced MCP-1 expression. Taken together, these results indicate that high osmolalities activate the transcription factor NFAT5 in mesothelial cells. NFAT5 in turn upregulates MCP-1, likely in combination with NF-?B, and thus may participate in the development of peritoneal fibrosis during CAPD.
Acute kidney injury associated with reduced urinary concentration is a frequent and severe complication during sepsis. The present study addressed the effect of endotoxemia on the functional and molecular mechanisms that determine urinary concentrating ability. Efficient urinary concentration depends on, amongst other factors, the expression of the Cl channel kidney-specific chloride channel 1 and its subunit Barttin, the urea transporter-A1, and the water channel aquaporin 2, all of which are regulated by the transcription factor TonEBP/NFAT5.
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