Lihe Chen

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas, United States

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Publications (9)43.53 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The Ca2+-activated, maxi-K (BK) K+ channel, with low Ca2+-binding affinity, is expressed in the distal tubule of the nephron and contributes to flow-dependent K+ secretion. In the present study we demonstrate that the Ca2+-activated, SK3 (KCa2.3) K+ channel, with high Ca2+-binding affinity, is also expressed in the mouse kidney (RT-PCR, immunoblots). Immunohistochemical evaluations using tubule specific markers demonstrate significant expression of SK3 in the distal tubule and the entire collecting duct system, including the connecting tubule (CNT) and cortical collecting duct (CCD). In CNT and CCD, main sites for K+ secretion, the highest levels of expression were along the apical (luminal) cell membranes, including for both principal cells (PCs) and intercalated cells (ICs), posturing the channel for Ca2+-dependent K+ secretion. Fluorescent assessment of cell membrane potential in native, split-opened CCD, demonstrated that selective activation of the Ca2+-permeable TRPV4 channel, thereby inducing Ca2+ influx and elevating intracellular Ca2+ levels, activated both the SK3 channel and the BK channel leading to hyperpolarization of the cell membrane. The hyperpolarization response was decreased to a similar extent by either inhibition of SK3 channel with the selective SK antagonist, apamin, or by inhibition of the BK channel with the selective antagonist, iberiotoxin (IbTX). Addition of both inhibitors produced a further depolarization, indicating cooperative effects of the two channels on Vm. It is concluded that SK3 is functionally expressed in the distal nephron and collecting ducts where induction of TRPV4-mediated Ca2+ influx, leading to elevated intracellular Ca2+ levels, activates this high Ca2+-affinity K+ channel. Further, with sites of expression localized to the apical cell membrane, especially in the CNT and CCD, SK3 is poised to be a key pathway for Ca2+-dependent regulation of membrane potential and K+ secretion.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(4):e95149. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aldosterone is a major regulator of Na+ absorption and acts by activating the mineralocorticoid receptor to stimulate the epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC). MR(-/-) mice exhibited pseudohypoaldosteronism type 1 (hyponatremia, hyperkalemia, salt wasting, and high levels of aldosterone) and died around P10. However, if and how MR regulates ENaC transcription remain incompletely understood. Our earlier work demonstrated that aldosterone activates αENaC transcription by reducing expression of Dot1a and Af9 and by impairing Dot1a-Af9 interaction. Most recently, we reported identification of a major Af9 binding site in the αENaC promoter and upregulation of αENaC mRNA expression in mouse kidneys lacking Dot1a. Despite these findings, the putative antagonism between the MR/aldosterone and Dot1a-Af9 complexes has never been addressed. The molecular defects leading to PHA-1 in MR(-/-) mice remain elusive. Here, we report that MR competes with Dot1a to bind Af9. MR/aldosterone and Dot1a-Af9 complexes mutually counterbalance ENaC mRNA expression in IMCD3 cells. Real-time RT-qPCR revealed that 5-day-old MR(-/-) vs. MR(+/+) mice had significantly lower αENaC mRNA levels. This change was associated with an increased Af9 binding and H3 K79 hypermethylation in the αENaC promoter. Therefore, this study identified MR as a novel binding partner and regulator of Af9 and a novel mechanism coupling MR-mediated activation with relief of Dot1a-Af9-mediated repression via MR-Af9 interaction. Impaired ENaC expression due to failure to inhibit Dot1a-Af9 may play an important role in the early stages of PHA-1 (prior to P8) in MR(-/-) mice.
    AJP Renal Physiology 09/2013; · 4.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mammalian collecting duct comprises principal and intercalated cells, which maintain sodium/water and acid/base balance, respectively, but the epigenetic contributors to the differentiation of these cell types remain unknown. Here, we investigated whether the histone H3 K79 methyltransferase Dot1l, which is highly expressed in principal cells, participates in this process. Taking advantage of the distribution of aquaporin 2 (Aqp2), which localizes to principal cells of the collecting duct, we developed mice lacking Dot1l in Aqp2-expressing cells (Dot1l(AC)) and found that these mice had approximately 20% fewer principal cells and 13%-16% more intercalated cells than control mice. This deletion of Dot1l in principal cells abolished histone H3 K79 methylation in these cells, but unexpectedly, most intercalated cells also had undetectable di-methyl K79, suggesting that Aqp2(+) cells give rise to intercalated cells. These Aqp2(+) cell-derived intercalated cells were present in both developing and mature kidneys. Furthermore, compared with control mice, Dot1l(AC) mice had 40% higher urine volume and 18% lower urine osmolarity with relatively normal electrolyte and acid-base homeostasis. In conclusion, these data suggest that Dot1l deletion facilitates the differentiation of some α- and β-intercalated cells from Aqp2-expressing progenitor cells or mature principal cells.
    Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 01/2013; · 8.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dot1l encodes histone H3 K79 methyltransferase Dot1a. Mice with Dot1l deficiency in renal Aqp2-expressing cells (Dot1l(AC)) develop polyuria by unknown mechanisms. Here, we report that Aqp5 links Dot1l deletion to polyuria through Aqp2. cDNA array analysis revealed and real-time RT-qPCR validated Aqp5 as the most upregulated gene in Dot1l(AC) vs. control mice. Aqp5 protein is barely detectable in controls, but robustly expressed in the Dot1l(AC) kidneys, where it colocalizes with Aqp2. The upregulation of Aqp5 is coupled with reduced association of Dot1a and H3 dimethyl K79 with specific subregions in Aqp5 5' flanking region in Dot1l(AC) vs. control mice. In vitro studies in IMCD3, MLE-15 and 293Tcells using multiple approaches including real-time RT-qPCR, luciferase reporter assay, cell surface biotinylation assay, colocalization, and co-immunoprecipitation uncovered that Dot1a represses Aqp5. Human AQP5 interacts with AQP2 and impairs its cell surface localization. The AQP5/AQP2 complex partially resides in the ER/Golgi. Consistently, AQP5 is expressed in none of 15 normal controls, but in all of 17 kidney biopsies from patients with diabetic nephropathy. In the patients with diabetic nephropathy, AQP5 colocalizes with AQP2 in the perinuclear region and AQP5 expression is associated with impaired cellular H3 dimethyl K79. Taken together, these data for the first time identify Aqp5 as a Dot1a potential transcriptional target, and an Aqp2 binding partner and regulator, and suggest that the upregulated Aqp5 may contribute to polyuria, possibly by impairing Aqp2 membrane localization, in Dot1l(AC) mice and in patients with diabetic nephropathy.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e53342. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The epithelial Na(+) channel subunit-α (αENaC) of the distal nephron is essential for salt balance. We previously demonstrated that the histone methyltransferase Dot1a and its protein partner Af9 basally repress αENaC transcription in mIMCD3 cells and link aldosterone-elicited chromatin modifications to αENaC transcriptional activation. Af9 DNA-binding activity has never been demonstrated, and whether and where Af9 binds to the αENaC promoter to target Dot1a is unknown. The present study sought to identify functional Af9 cis-element(s) in the -57/+439 "R3" subregion of αENaC, the principal site for Dot1a-Af9 interaction, in mIMCD3 cells. We also exploited connecting tubule/collecting duct-specific Dot1l-deficient mice (Dot1l(AC)) to determine the impact of Dot1l inactivation on renal αENaC expression in vivo. mIMCD3 cell lines expressing αENaC promoter-reporter constructs harboring deletion of +74/+107 demonstrated greatly reduced association of Af9 and Dot1a by ChIP/qPCR. Aldosterone treatment resulted in further decrements in Af9 and Dot1a association with the αENaC promoter. Gel shift and antibody competition assays using wild type and mutant oligomers revealed Af9-containing +78/+92 αENaC DNA-protein complexes in nuclear extracts of mIMCD3 cells. Mutation of the +78/+92 element resulted in higher basal αENaC promoter activity and impaired Dot1a-mediated inhibition in trans-repression assays. In agreement, mice with connecting tubule/collecting duct-specific knockout of Dot1l exhibited greater αENaC mRNA levels in kidney compared to control. Thus, we conclude that +78/+92 of αENaC represents the primary Af9 binding site involved in recruiting Dot1a to repress basal and aldosterone-sensitive αENaC transcription, and that Dot1l inactivation promotes αENaC mRNA expression by eliminating Dot1a-mediated repression.
    AJP Renal Physiology 11/2012; · 4.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The molecular mechanism linking aldosterone and endothelin-1 in the development of diabetic nephropathy has not been completely elucidated. Here, we provide evidence showing that streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats have significantly increased aldosterone and endothelin-1 in the kidney tissue and markedly decreased expression of Dot1a and Af9. Blocking aldosterone with spironolactone significantly reduced proteinuria, glomerulosclerosis, tubulointerstitial injury and endothelin-1 expression, and significantly increased Dot1a and Af9 expression. Increasing Dot1a and Af9 expression by spironolactone or by stable transfection led to impaired endothelin-1 expression in NRK-52 cells. In contrast, downregulation of Dot1a and Af9 by aldosterone in NRK-52E cells caused upregulation of endothelin-1. Genetic inactivation of Dot1l, which encodes Dot1a, in Aqp2-expressing principal cells of mouse kidney impaired association of Dot1a and H3 dimethyl K79 with the specific subregions of endothelin-1 promoter, and upregulates endothelin-1 mRNA and protein expression. Our data suggest that Dot1a and Af9 repress endothelin-1 in vitro and in vivo. Excessive aldosterone induces kidney injury, in part possibly by downregulating Dot1a and Af9, and thus relieving Dot1a-Af9-mediated repression to increase endothelin-1 transcription. Spironolactone ameliorates kidney injury in Streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats, possibly by restoring Dot1a-Af9-mediated repression to reduce endothelin-1 expression. Therefore, Dot1a and Af9 as aldosterone-downregulated targets are negative regulators of endothelin-1 transcription in vitro and in vivo, and may be considered as new potential therapeutic targets of kidney injury in diabetes.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(10):e47360. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The putative transcription factor AF17 upregulates the transcription of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) genes, but whether AF17 modulates sodium homeostasis and BP is unknown. Here, we generated Af17-deficient mice to determine whether deletion of Af17 leads to sodium wasting and low BP. Compared with wild-type mice, Af17-deficient mice had lower BP (11 mmHg), higher urine volume, and increased sodium excretion despite mildly increased plasma concentrations of aldosterone. Deletion of Af17 led to increased dimethylation of histone H3 K79 and reduced ENaC function. The attenuated function of ENaC resulted from decreased ENaC mRNA and protein expression, fewer active channels, lower open probability, and reduced effective activity. In contrast, inducing high levels of plasma aldosterone by a variety of methods completely compensated for Af17 deficiency with respect to sodium handling and BP. Taken together, these data identify Af17 as a potential locus for the maintenance of sodium and BP homeostasis and suggest that a particular histone modification is directly linked to these processes. Af17-mediated regulation of BP is largely, but not exclusively, the result of modulating ENaC, suggesting it has potential as a therapeutic target for the control of BP.
    Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 06/2011; 22(6):1076-86. · 8.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Our previous work in 293T cells and AF17(-/-) mice suggests that AF17 upregulates expression and activity of the epithelial Na(+) channel (ENaC), possibly by relieving Dot1a-AF9-mediated repression. However, whether and how AF17 directly regulates Dot1a cellular distribution and ENaC function in renal collecting duct cells remain unaddressed. Here, we report our findings in mouse cortical collecting duct M-1 cells that overexpression of AF17 led to preferential distribution of Dot1a in the cytoplasm. This effect could be blocked by nuclear export inhibitor leptomycin B. siRNA-mediated depletion of AF17 caused nuclear accumulation of Dot1a. AF17 overexpression elicited multiple effects that are reminiscent of aldosterone action. These effects include 1) increased mRNA and protein expression of the three ENaC subunits (α, β and γ) and serum- and glucocorticoid inducible kinase 1, as revealed by real-time RT-qPCR and immunoblotting analyses; 2) impaired Dot1a-AF9 interaction and H3 K79 methylation at the αENaC promoter without affecting AF9 binding to the promoter, as evidenced by chromatin immunoprecipitation; and 3) elevated ENaC-mediated Na(+) transport, as analyzed by measurement of benzamil-sensitive intracellular [Na(+)] and equivalent short circuit current using single-cell fluorescence imaging and an epithelial Volt-ohmmeter, respectively. Knockdown of AF17 elicited opposite effects. However, combination of AF17 overexpression or depletion with aldosterone treatment did not cause an additive effect on mRNA expression of the ENaC subunits. Taken together, we conclude that AF17 promotes Dot1a nuclear export and upregulates basal, but not aldosterone-stimulated ENaC expression, leading to an increase in ENaC-mediated Na(+) transport in renal collecting duct cells.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(11):e27429. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As a putative transcription factor, Af17 may play a role in multiple signaling pathways. However, the Af17 expression profile during development and in adult tissues remains largely uncharacterized. The importance of Af17 function in embryogenesis, hematopoiesis, and animal survival has never been addressed before. Here we report the generation of the first Af17 mutant mouse model and characterization of the Af17 temporal and spatial expression profile in various embryonic stages and adult tissues by X-gal staining, in situ hybridization, and RT-PCR. Af17 expression is detected in specific cell populations in all stages and in multiple tissues examined. In situ hybridization yielded a consistent Af17 expression pattern by X-gal staining. Homozygous mutant mice are viable, fertile, normal in size, and do not display any gross physical, behavioral, or hematopoietic abnormalities. Thus, our studies describe the generation of the first Af17 mutant mouse model, provide the first developmental profile of Af17 expression, and reveal that Af17 may be dispensable for normal embryogenesis, hematopoiesis, and animal survival. genesis 48:693–706, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
    genesis 11/2010; 48(12):693 - 706. · 2.58 Impact Factor