[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Increase in intracellular calcium ([Ca(2+) ]i ) is a key mediator of astrocyte signaling, important for activation of the calcineurin (CN)/nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) pathway, a central mediator of inflammatory events. We analyzed the expression of matrix metalloproteinase 3 (Mmp3) in response to increases in [Ca(2+) ]i and the role of the CN/NFAT pathway in this regulation. Astrocyte Mmp3 expression was induced by overexpression of a constitutively active form of NFATc3, whereas other MMPs and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMP) were unaffected. Mmp3 mRNA and protein expression was also induced by calcium ionophore (Io) and 2'(3')-O-(4-benzoylbenzoyl) adenosine 5'-triphosphate (Bz-ATP) and Mmp3 upregulation was prevented by the CN inhibitor cyclosporin A (CsA). Ca(2+) -dependent astrocyte Mmp3 expression was also inhibited by actinomycin D, and a Mmp3 promoter luciferase reporter was efficiently activated by increased [Ca(2+) ]i , indicating regulation at the transcriptional level. Furthermore, Ca(2+) /CN/NFAT dependent Mmp3 expression was confirmed in pure astrocyte cultures derived from neural stem cells (Ast-NSC), demonstrating that the induced Mmp3 expression occurs in astrocytes, and not microglial cells. In an in vivo stab-wound model of brain injury, MMP3 expression was detected in NFATc3-positive scar-forming astrocytes. Because [Ca(2+) ]i increase is an early event in most brain injuries, these data support an important role for Ca(2+) /CN/NFAT-induced astrocyte MMP3 expression in the early neuroinflammatory response. Understanding the molecular pathways involved in this regulation could provide novel therapeutic targets and approaches to promoting recovery of the injured brain.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An increase in intracellular calcium concentration [Ca2+]i is one of the first events to take place after brain ischemia. A key [Ca2+]i-regulated signaling molecule is the phosphatase calcineurin (CN), which plays important roles in the modulation of inflammatory cascades. Here, we have analyzed the role of endogenous regulator of CN 1 (Rcan1) in response to experimental ischemic stroke induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion.
Animals were subjected to focal cerebral ischemia with reperfusion. To assess the role of Rcan1 after stroke, we measured infarct volume after 48 h of reperfusion in Rcan1 knockout (KO) and wild-type (WT) mice. In vitro studies were performed in astrocyte-enriched cortical primary cultures subjected to 3% oxygen (hypoxia) and glucose deprivation (HGD). Adenoviral vectors were used to analyze the effect of overexpression of Rcan1-4 protein. Protein expression was examined by immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting and expression of mRNA by quantitative real-time Reverse-Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (real time qRT-PCR).
Brain ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury in vivo increased mRNA and protein expression of the calcium-inducible Rcan1 isoform (Rcan1-4). I/R-inducible expression of Rcan1 protein occurred mainly in astroglial cells, and in an in vitro model of ischemia, HGD treatment of primary murine astrocyte cultures induced Rcan1-4 mRNA and protein expression. Exogenous Rcan1-4 overexpression inhibited production of the inflammatory marker cyclo-oxygenase 2. Mice lacking Rcan1 had higher expression of inflammation associated genes, resulting in larger infarct volumes.
Our results support a protective role for Rcan1 during the inflammatory response to stroke, and underline the importance of the glial compartment in the inflammatory reaction that takes place after ischemia. Improved understanding of non-neuronal mechanisms in ischemic injury promises novel approaches to the treatment of acute ischemic stroke.
Journal of Neuroinflammation 03/2012; 9:48. · 4.35 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Astrocytes react to brain injury triggering neuroinflammatory processes that determine the degree of neuronal damage. However, the signaling events associated to astrocyte activation remain largely undefined. The nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) is a transcription factor family implicated in activation of immune cells. We previously characterized the expression of NFAT isoforms in cultured astrocytes, and NFAT activation in response to mechanical lesion. Here we analyze NFATc3 in two mouse models of inflammatory brain damage: hippocampal excitotoxicity induced by intracerebral kainic acid (KA) injection and cortical mechanical lesion. Immunofluorescence results demonstrated that NFATc3 is specifically induced in a subset of reactive astrocytes, and not in microglia or neurons. In KA-treated brains, NFATc3 expression is transient and NFATc3-positive astrocytes concentrate around damaged neurons in areas CA3 and CA1. Complementary Western blot and RT-PCR analysis revealed an NFAT-dependent induction of RCAN1-4 and COX-2 in hippocampus as soon as 6 h after KA exposure, indicating that NFAT activation precedes NFATc3 over-expression. Moreover, activation of NFAT by ATP increased NFATc3 mRNA levels in astrocyte cultures, suggesting that NFATc3 expression is controlled through an auto-regulatory loop. Meanwhile, stab wound enhanced NFATc3 expression specifically in a subclass of reactive astrocytes confined within the proximal layer of the glial scar, and GFAP immunoreactivity was attenuated in NFATc3-expressing astrocytes. In conclusion, our work establishes NFATc3 as a marker of activation for a specific population of astrocytes in response to brain damage, which may have consequences for neuronal survival.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The calcineurin/nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) signaling pathway mediates important cell responses to calcium, but its activity and function in astrocytes have remained unclear. We show that primary cortical astrocyte cultures express the regulatory and catalytic subunits of the phosphatase calcineurin as well as the calcium-regulated NFAT family members (NFATc1, c2, c3, and c4). NFATs are activated by calcium-mobilizing agents in astrocytes, and this activation is blocked by the calcineurin inhibitor cyclosporine A. Microarray screening identified cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2), which is implicated in brain injury, and Rcan 1-4, an endogenous calcineurin inhibitor, as genes up-regulated by calcineurin-dependent calcium signals in astrocytes. Mobilization of intracellular calcium with ionophore potently augments the promoter activity and mRNA and protein expression of Rcan 1-4 and Cox-2 induced by combined treatment with phorbol esters. Moreover, Rcan 1-4 expression is efficiently induced by calcium mobilization alone. For both the genes, the calcium signal component is dependent on calcineurin and is replicated by exogenous expression of a constitutively active NFAT, strongly suggesting that the calcium-induced gene activation is mediated by NFATs. Finally, we report that calcineurin-dependent expression of Cox-2 and Rcan 1-4 is induced by physiological calcium mobilizing agents, such as thrombin, agonists of purinergic and glutamate receptors, and L-type voltage-gated calcium channels. These findings provide insights into calcium-initiated gene transcription in astrocytes, and have implications for the regulation of calcium responses in astrocytes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Members of the nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) family of transcription factors regulate transcription of genes involved in the function of many different cellular systems. Activity of NFAT proteins is regulated by a complex interplay of phosphorylation events that are still poorly understood. In this work, we take advantage of the high scanning speed of the linear ion trap to develop a method to make a systematic characterization of NFATc2 phosphorylation. The method is based on the simultaneous monitoring of all tryptic peptides that can be detected by MS and contain potential phosphorylation sites. By this approach, we detected six NFATc2 phosphorylation sites by c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) in vitro in only one experiment; a further site was also identified by performing digestion in solution. Using this approach, we have also characterized five basal phosphorylation sites in NFATc2 protein expressed in HEK cell cultures. Two of these NFATc2 phosphorylation sites in vivo have not been described before. The simplicity and sensitivity of this technique, which can be applied to any potential modification, makes it particularly attractive for the systematic detection of post-translational modifications of specific target proteins both in vitro and in vivo.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report induction of TNF-alpha via the calcium/calcineurin/NFAT pathway in PC12 neural cells. In PC12, expression of TNF-alpha mRNA, protein and TNF-alpha gene promoter activity was induced by co-stimulation with phorbol ester and either calcium ionophore A23187 or the L-type Voltage Gated Calcium Channel agonist Bay K 8644. Pre-treatment with calcineurin inhibitors CsA or FK506 inhibited the dominant calcium-dependent component of this induction, limiting it to the level achieved with phorbol ester alone. Promoter activation by Bay was abolished by nifedipine, a specific inhibitor of L-type Voltage Gated Calcium Channels. Exogenous NFAT protein transactivated the TNF-alpha promoter, and the peptide VIVIT-a specific inhibitor of calcineurin/NFAT binding-blocked calcium-inducible transactivation of the TNF-alpha promoter. Given proposed functions of TNF-alpha in spatial learning, memory and the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, the data presented suggest an important role for calcineurin/NFAT signaling in these key neurological processes.
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 05/2006; 31(4):692-701. · 3.84 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study we showed that the transcriptional regulation of Down syndrome critical region isoform 4 (DSCR1.4) is mediated by the calcineurin/nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) pathway in neural cells. Stimuli that elicit an increase in the intracellular concentrations of calcium, such as membrane depolarization, induced de novo transcription of DSCR1.4, with mRNA expression peaking after 4 h and then declining. Action via the physiologically relevant L-type calcium channel was confirmed by blockade with nifedipine and verapamil. This calcium-dependent transcription of DSCR1.4 was inhibited by the calcineurin inhibitors cyclosporin A and FK506. Deletional analysis showed that the calcium- and calcineurin-dependent activation is mediated by the promoter region between nucleotides -350 and -166, a region that contains putative NFAT-binding motifs. Exogenous NFATc2 potently augmented the DSCR1.4 promoter transcriptional activity, and the involvement of endogenous NFAT signaling pathway in DSCR1.4 transcription was confirmed by the suppression of depolarization-inducible promoter activity with the NFAT inhibitor peptide VIVIT. Exogenous overexpression of DSCR1 protein (calcipressin 1) resulted in the inhibition of the transcription of DSCR1.4 and NFAT-dependent signaling. These findings suggest that calcineurin-dependent induction of DSCR1.4 product may represent an important auto-regulatory mechanism for the homeostatic control of NFAT signaling in neural cells.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2005; 280(33):29435-43. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) family of transcription factors regulates the transcription of cytokine genes and other genes involved in the regulation and function of the immune system. NFAT activity is regulated by the phosphatase calcineurin, which binds and dephosphorylates the NFAT N-terminal regulatory domain, a critical step required for nuclear translocation and transcriptional activity. Here we show that the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) JNK activates NFATc2-dependent transcription. Mass spectrometry revealed that JNK phosphorylates at least six residues within the NFATc2 regulatory domain in vitro. Transfection of cells with a chimeric construct encoding the GAL-4 DNA binding domain linked to wild-type NFATc2 showed that JNK stimulates the NFATc2 transactivation domain in activated Jurkat T lymphocytes, an effect that is inhibited by dominant-negative versions of JNK. Likewise, the mutation of the phosphorylation sites identified revealed that Thr(116) and Ser(170) are critical for the transactivation of NFATc2 by JNK. In addition, clustered mutation of the SP-conserved motifs of NFATc2 showed that SP1 and SP2, but not SP3, are also important for the inducible transactivation of NFATc2. Furthermore, mass spectrometry analysis of NFATc2-transfected cells indicated that the activation of the JNK pathway results in the in vivo phosphorylation of Thr(116). Our results indicate that, unlike other NFAT members, the transcriptional activity of NFATc2 is up-regulated by JNK. JNK-mediated phosphorylation of NFATs thus appears to play a differential physiological role among NFAT family members.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2005; 280(21):20867-78. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Death receptor CD95 gene expression is frequently low in human breast tumors and is up-regulated by genotoxic treatments in a p53-dependent manner. We have evaluated the relative contribution of promoter and intronic p53 consensus sites to the regulation of the human CD95 gene in breast tumor cells following doxorubicin treatment. Deletion constructs of the promoter region and site-directed mutagenesis of p53 consensus sites in a fragment spanning 1448 bp of the 5'-promoter demonstrate that these sites are not involved in the observed up-regulation of the CD95 gene upon doxorubicin treatment. In contrast, a p53 consensus site located within the first intron of CD95 gene is absolutely required for the inducible expression of CD95 upon genotoxic treatment in breast tumor cells. Analysis of the transcriptional activity of the two most common p53 mutants found in human breast tumors that are associated with resistance to doxorubicin reveals that these mutations completely eliminate the ability of p53 protein to transactivate CD95 gene expression. On the other hand, Bcl-2 overexpression albeit preventing doxorubicin-induced apoptosis, has no effect on p53-mediated CD95 up-regulation in breast tumor cells. Altogether, these results indicate the lack of involvement of p53 consensus sites of the CD95 promoter region and the pivotal role of intronic p53-responsive element in the regulation of human CD95 gene expression in breast tumor cells. Our results also suggest that in breast cancer patients with certain mutations in the p53 gene, expression of death receptor CD95 in response to genotoxic treatments could be severely compromised.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2003; 278(34):31667-75. · 4.65 Impact Factor