Combined Activities of JNK1 and JNK2 in Hepatocytes Protect Against Toxic Liver Injury.
ABSTRACT: c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) 1 and JNK2 are expressed in hepatocytes and have overlapping and distinct functions. JNK proteins are activated via phosphorylation in response to acetaminophen- or carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced liver damage; the level of activation correlates with the degree of injury. SP600125, a JNK inhibitor, has been reported to block acetaminophen-induced liver injury. We investigated the role of JNK in drug-induced liver injury (DILI) in liver tissue from patients and in mice with genetic deletion of JNK in hepatocytes.We studied liver sections from patients with DILI (due to acetaminophen, phenprocoumon, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or autoimmune hepatitis) or patients without acute liver failure (controls) collected from a DILI Biobank in Germany. Levels of total and activated (phosphorylated) JNK were measured by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. Mice with hepatocyte-specific deletion of Jnk1 (Jnk1(?hepa)) or combination of Jnk1 and Jnk2 (Jnk(?hepa)), as well as Jnk1-floxed C57BL/6 (control) mice, were given injections of CCl4 (to induce fibrosis) or acetaminophen (to induce toxic liver injury). We performed gene expression microarray and phosphoproteomic analyses to determine mechanisms of JNK activity in hepatocytes.Liver samples from DILI patients contained more activated JNK, predominantly in nuclei of hepatocytes and in immune cells, than healthy tissue. Administration of acetaminophen to Jnk(?hepa) mice produced a greater level of liver injury than that observed in Jnk1(?hepa) or control mice, based on levels of serum markers and microscopic and histologic analysis of liver tissues. Administration of CCl4 also induced stronger hepatic injury in Jnk(?hepa) mice, based on increased inflammation, cell proliferation, and fibrosis progression, compared with Jnk1(?hepa) or control mice. Hepatocytes from Jnk(?hepa) mice given acetaminophen had an increased oxidative stress response, leading to decreased activation of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, total protein adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase levels, and pJunD and subsequent necrosis. Administration of SP600125 before or with acetaminophen protected Jnk(?hepa) and control mice from liver injury.In hepatocytes, JNK1 and JNK2 appear to have combined effects in protecting mice from CCl4- and acetaminophen-induced liver injury. It is important to study the tissue-specific functions of both proteins, rather than just JNK1, in the onset of toxic liver injury. JNK inhibition with SP600125 shows off-target effects.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS: c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)1 and JNK2 are expressed in hepatocytes and have overlapping and distinct functions. JNK proteins are activated, via phosphorylation, in response to acetaminophen- or CCl4-induced liver damage; the level of activation correlates with the degree of injury. SP600125, a JNK inhibitor, has been reported to block acetaminophen-induced liver injury. We investigated the role of JNK in drug-induced liver injury (DILI) in liver tissues from patients and in mice with genetic deletion of JNK in hepatocytes. METHODS: We studied liver sections from patients with DILI (due to acetaminophen, phenprocoumon, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or autoimmune hepatitis), or patients without acute liver failure (controls), collected from a DILI Biobank in Germany. Levels of total and activated (phosphorylated) JNK were measured by immunohistochemistry and western blotting. Mice with hepatocyte-specific deletion of Jnk1 (Jnk1Δhepa) or combination of Jnk1 and Jnk2 (JnkΔhepa), as well as Jnk1-floxed C57BL/6 (control) mice, were given injections of CCl4 (to induce fibrosis) or acetaminophen (to induce toxic liver injury). We performed gene expression microarray, and phosphoproteomic analyses to determine mechanisms of JNK activity in hepatocytes. RESULTS: Liver samples from DILI patients contained more activated JNK, predominantly in nuclei of hepatocytes and in immune cells, than healthy tissue. Administration of acetaminophen to JnkΔhepa mice produced a greater level of liver injury than that observed in Jnk1Δhepa or control mice, based on levels of serum markers and microscopic and histologic analysis of liver tissues. Administration of CCl4 also induced stronger hepatic injury in JnkΔhepa mice, based on increased inflammation, cell proliferation, and fibrosis progression, compared to Jnk1Δhepa or control mice. Hepatocytes from JnkΔhepa mice given acetaminophen had an increased oxidative stress response, leading to decreased activation of AMPK, total protein AMPK levels, and pJunD and subsequent necrosis. Administration of SP600125 before or with acetaminophen protected JnkΔhepa and control mice from liver injury. CONCLUSIONS: In hepatocytes, JNK1 and JNK2 appear to have combined effects in protecting mice from CCl4- and acetaminophen-induced liver injury. It is important to study the tissue-specific functions of both proteins, rather than just JNK1, in the onset of toxic liver injury. JNK inhibition with SP600125 shows off-target effects. Livers and primary hepatocytes were isolated from wild type and JNKΔhepa (Jnk1Δhepa/global Jnk2-/-) double-knockout mice and subjected to gene expression profiling.
Project description:Targeted inhibition of the c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) has shown therapeutic potential in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (CCA)-related tumorigenesis. However, the cell-type-specific role and mechanisms triggered by JNK in liver parenchymal cells during CCA remain largely unknown. Here, we aimed to investigate the relevance of JNK1 and JNK2 function in hepatocytes in two different models of experimental carcinogenesis, the dethylnitrosamine (DEN) model and in nuclear factor kappa B essential modulator (NEMO)hepatocyte-specific knockout (?hepa) mice, focusing on liver damage, cell death, compensatory proliferation, fibrogenesis, and tumor development. Moreover, regulation of essential genes was assessed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, immunoblottings, and immunostainings. Additionally, specific Jnk2 inhibition in hepatocytes of NEMO?hepa/JNK1?hepa mice was performed using small interfering (si) RNA (siJnk2) nanodelivery. Finally, active signaling pathways were blocked using specific inhibitors. Compound deletion of Jnk1 and Jnk2 in hepatocytes diminished hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in both the DEN model and in NEMO?hepa mice but in contrast caused massive proliferation of the biliary ducts. Indeed, Jnk1/2 deficiency in hepatocytes of NEMO?hepa (NEMO?hepa/JNK?hepa) animals caused elevated fibrosis, increased apoptosis, increased compensatory proliferation, and elevated inflammatory cytokines expression but reduced HCC. Furthermore, siJnk2 treatment in NEMO?hepa/JNK1?hepa mice recapitulated the phenotype of NEMO?hepa/JNK?hepa mice. Next, we sought to investigate the impact of molecular pathways in response to compound JNK deficiency in NEMO?hepa mice. We found that NEMO?hepa/JNK?hepa livers exhibited overexpression of the interleukin-6/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 pathway in addition to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-rapidly accelerated fibrosarcoma (Raf)-mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) cascade. The functional relevance was tested by administering lapatinib, which is a dual tyrosine kinase inhibitor of erythroblastic oncogene B-2 (ErbB2) and EGFR signaling, to NEMO?hepa/JNK?hepa mice. Lapatinib effectively inhibited cystogenesis, improved transaminases, and effectively blocked EGFR-Raf-MEK-ERK signaling. Conclusion: We define a novel function of JNK1/2 in cholangiocyte hyperproliferation. This opens new therapeutic avenues devised to inhibit pathways of cholangiocarcinogenesis.
Project description:Chronic liver injury triggers complications such as liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which are associated with alterations in distinct signaling pathways. Of particular interest is the interaction between mechanisms controlled by IKKγ/NEMO, the regulatory IKK subunit, and Jnk activation for directing cell death and survival. In the present study, we aimed to define the relevance of Jnk in hepatocyte-specific NEMO knockout mice (NEMOΔhepa), a genetic model of chronic inflammatory liver injury. We generated global Jnk1-/-/NEMOΔhepa and Jnk2-/-/NEMOΔhepa mice by crossing NEMOΔhepa mice with Jnk1-/- and Jnk2-/- animals, respectively, and examined the progression of chronic liver disease. Moreover, we investigated the expression of Jnk during acute liver injury, evaluated the role of Jnk1 in bone marrow-derived cells, and analyzed the expression of NEMO and pJnk in human diseased-livers. Deletion of Jnk1 significantly aggravated the progression of liver disease, exacerbating apoptosis, compensatory proliferation and carcinogenesis in NEMOΔhepa mice. Jnk2-/-/NEMOΔhepa showed increased RIP-1 and RIP-3 expression and hepatic inflammation. Jnk1 in hematopoietic cells rather than hepatocytes had an impact on the progression of chronic liver disease in NEMOΔhepa livers. These findings are of clinical relevance since NEMO expression was down-regulated in hepatocytes of patients with HCC whereas NEMO and pJnk were expressed in a large amount of infiltrating cells. While Jnk1 is protective in NEMOΔhepa-depleted hepatocytes, Jnk1 in hematopoietic cells rather than hepatocytes is a crucial driver of hepatic injury. These results elucidate the complex function of Jnk in chronic inflammatory liver disease. Livers from global knockout mice for Jnk1 (Jnk1-/-) and Jnk2 (Jnk2-/- ), and double-knockout mice for Jnk1/NEMO (global Jnk1-/-/NEMOΔhepa) and Jnk2/NEMO (global Jnk2-/-/NEMOΔhepa), were subjected to gene expression profiling.
Project description:c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) plays a pivotal role in the development of the metabolic syndrome including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, the mechanism underlying the contribution of JNK to the progression from simple steatosis to steatohepatitis and liver fibrosis is unresolved.Hepatic steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis were examined in wild-type, jnk1(-/-), or jnk2(-/-) mice fed a choline-deficient L-amino acid-defined (CDAA) diet for 20 weeks. The functional contribution of JNK isoforms in Kupffer cells was assessed in vitro and in vivo using chimeric mice in which the hematopoietic compartment including Kupffer cells was replaced by wild-type, jnk1(-/-), or jnk2(-/-) cells.CDAA diet induced significantly less hepatic inflammation and less liver fibrosis despite a similar level of hepatic steatosis in jnk1(-/-) mice as compared with wild-type or jnk2(-/-) mice. CDAA diet-induced hepatic inflammation was chronic and mediated by Kupffer cells. Pharmacologic inhibition of JNK or gene deletion of jnk1 but not jnk2 repressed the expression of inflammatory and fibrogenic mediators in primary Kupffer cells. In vivo, CDAA diet induced less hepatic inflammation and liver fibrosis despite an equivalent level of hepatic steatosis in chimeric mice with jnk1(-/-) hematopoietic cells as compared with chimeric mice with wild-type or jnk2(-/-) hematopoietic cells.jnk1(-/-) mice are resistant to diet-induced steatohepatitis and liver fibrosis. JNK1 in hematopoietic cells, especially in Kupffer cells, contributes to the development of liver fibrosis by inducing chronic inflammation.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Inclusion of liver grafts from cardiac death donors (CDD) would increase the availability of donor livers but is hampered by a higher risk of primary non-function. Here, we seek to determine mechanisms that contribute to primary non-function of liver grafts from CDD with the goal to develop strategies for improved function and outcome, focusing on c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation and mitochondrial depolarization, two known mediators of graft failure. METHODS:Livers explanted from wild-type, inducible nitric oxide synthase knockout (iNOS(-/-)), JNK1(-/-) or JNK2(-/-) mice after 45-min aorta clamping were implanted into wild-type recipients. Mitochondrial depolarization was detected by intravital confocal microscopy in living recipients. RESULTS:After transplantation of wild-type CDD livers, graft iNOS expression and 3-nitrotyrosine adducts increased, but hepatic endothelial NOS expression was unchanged. Graft injury and dysfunction were substantially higher in CDD grafts than in non-CDD grafts. iNOS deficiency and inhibition attenuated injury and improved function and survival of CDD grafts. JNK1/2 and apoptosis signal-regulating kinase-1 activation increased markedly in wild-type CDD grafts, which was blunted by iNOS deficiency. JNK inhibition and JNK2 deficiency, but not JNK1 deficiency, decreased injury and improved function and survival of CDD grafts. Mitochondrial depolarization and binding of phospho-JNK2 to Sab, a mitochondrial protein linked to the mitochondrial permeability transition, were higher in CDD than in non-CDD grafts. iNOS deficiency, JNK inhibition and JNK2 deficiency all decreased mitochondrial depolarization and blunted ATP depletion in CDD grafts. JNK inhibition and deficiency did not decrease 3-nitrotyrosine adducts in CDD grafts. CONCLUSION:The iNOS-JNK2-Sab pathway promotes CDD graft failure via increased mitochondrial depolarization, and is an attractive target to improve liver function and survival in CDD liver transplantation recipients.
Project description:c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) is activated by multiple profibrogenic mediators; JNK activation occurs during toxic, metabolic, and autoimmune liver injury. However, its role in hepatic fibrogenesis is unknown.JNK phosphorylation was detected by immunoblot analysis and confocal immunofluorescent microscopy in fibrotic livers from mice after bile duct ligation (BDL) or CCl(4) administration and in liver samples from patients with chronic hepatitis C and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Fibrogenesis was investigated in mice given the JNK inhibitor SP600125 and in JNK1- and JNK2-deficient mice following BDL or CCl(4) administration. Hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation was determined in primary mouse HSCs incubated with pan-JNK inhibitors SP600125 and VIII.JNK phosphorylation was strongly increased in livers of mice following BDL or CCl(4) administration as well as in human fibrotic livers, occurring predominantly in myofibroblasts. In vitro, pan-JNK inhibitors prevented transforming growth factor (TGF) beta-, platelet-derived growth factor-, and angiotensin II-induced murine HSC activation and decreased platelet-derived growth factor and TGF-beta signaling in human HSCs. In vivo, pan-JNK inhibition did not affect liver injury but significantly reduced fibrosis after BDL or CCl(4). JNK1-deficient mice had decreased fibrosis after BDL or CCl(4), whereas JNK2-deficient mice displayed increased fibrosis after BDL but fibrosis was not changed after CCl(4). Moreover, patients with chronic hepatitis C who displayed decreased fibrosis in response to the angiotensin receptor type 1 blocker losartan showed decreased JNK phosphorylation.JNK is involved in HSC activation and fibrogenesis and represents a potential target for antifibrotic treatment approaches.
Project description:The c-Jun NH2-terminal kinases (JNK) are regulated by a wide variety of cellular stresses and have been implicated in apoptotic signaling. Macrophages express 2 JNK isoforms, JNK1 and JNK2, which may have different effects on cell survival and atherosclerosis.To dissect the effect of macrophage JNK1 and JNK2 on early atherosclerosis, Ldlr(-/-) mice were reconstituted with wild-type, Jnk1(-/-), and Jnk2(-/-) hematopoietic cells and fed a high cholesterol diet. Jnk1(-/-)?Ldlr(-/-) mice have larger atherosclerotic lesions with more macrophages and fewer apoptotic cells than mice transplanted with wild-type or Jnk2(-/-) cells. Moreover, genetic ablation of JNK to a single allele (Jnk1(+/-)/Jnk2(-/-) or Jnk1(-/-)/Jnk2(+/-)) in marrow of Ldlr(-/-) recipients further increased atherosclerosis compared with Jnk1(-/-)?Ldlr(-/-) and wild-type?Ldlr(-/-) mice. In mouse macrophages, anisomycin-mediated JNK signaling antagonized Akt activity, and loss of Jnk1 gene obliterated this effect. Similarly, pharmacological inhibition of JNK1, but not JNK2, markedly reduced the antagonizing effect of JNK on Akt activity. Prolonged JNK signaling in the setting of endoplasmic reticulum stress gradually extinguished Akt and Bad activity in wild-type cells with markedly less effects in Jnk1(-/-) macrophages, which were also more resistant to apoptosis. Consequently, anisomycin increased and JNK1 inhibitors suppressed endoplasmic reticulum stress-mediated apoptosis in macrophages. We also found that genetic and pharmacological inhibition of phosphatase and tensin homolog abolished the JNK-mediated effects on Akt activity, indicating that phosphatase and tensin homolog mediates crosstalk between these pathways.Loss of Jnk1, but not Jnk2, in macrophages protects them from apoptosis, increasing cell survival, and this accelerates early atherosclerosis.
Project description:Overexpression and activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) have been observed in multiple cancer cell lines and tumor samples. Various JNK isoforms have been reported to promote lung and liver cancer, as well as keratinocyte transformation, suggesting an important role of JNK signaling in promoting tumor development. However, there are three JNK isoforms, and it is unclear how each individual isoform, especially the ubiquitously expressed JNK1 and JNK2, functions in melanoma. Our previous study found that C116S mutations in both JNK1 and JNK2 rendered them insensitive to the covalent pan-JNK inhibitor JNK-IN-8 while retaining kinase activity. To delineate the specific roles of JNK1 and JNK2 in melanoma cell proliferation and invasiveness, we expressed the wild type (WT) and C116S mutants in melanoma cell lines and used JNK-IN-8 to enable chemical-genetic dissection of JNK1 and JNK2 activity. We found that the JNK2C116S allele consistently enhanced colony proliferation and cell invasiveness in the presence of JNK-IN-8. When cells individually expressing WT or C116S JNK1/2 were subcutaneously implanted into immunodeficient mice, we again found that bypass of JNK-IN-8-mediated inhibition of JNK signaling by expression of JNK2C116S specifically resulted in enhanced tumor growth in vivo. In addition, we observed a high level of JNK pathway activation in some human BRAF inhibitor (BRAFi) resistant melanoma cell lines relative to their BRAFi sensitive isogenic counterparts. JNK-IN-8 significantly enhanced the response to dabrafenib in resistant cells overexpressing JNK1WT, JNK2WT, and JNK1C116S but had no effect on cells expressing JNK2C116S, suggesting that JNK2 signaling is also crucial for BRAFi resistance in a subset of melanomas. Collectively, our data show that JNK2 activity is specifically required for melanoma cell proliferation, invasiveness, and BRAFi resistance and that this activity is most important in the context of JNK1 suppression, thus providing a compelling rationale for the development of JNK2 selective inhibitors as a potential therapy for the treatment of melanoma.
Project description:The c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) is implicated in proliferation. Mice with a deficiency of either the Jnk1 or the Jnk2 genes are viable, but a compound deficiency of both Jnk1 and Jnk2 causes early embryonic lethality. Studies using conditional gene ablation and chemical genetic approaches demonstrate that the combined loss of JNK1 and JNK2 protein kinase function results in rapid senescence. To test whether this role of JNK was required for stem cell proliferation, we isolated embryonic stem (ES) cells from wild-type and JNK-deficient mice. We found that Jnk1(-/-) Jnk2(-/-) ES cells underwent self-renewal, but these cells proliferated more rapidly than wild-type ES cells and exhibited major defects in lineage-specific differentiation. Together, these data demonstrate that JNK is not required for proliferation or self-renewal of ES cells, but JNK plays a key role in the differentiation of ES cells.
Project description:JNK proteins have been shown to be involved in liver carcinogenesis in mice, but the extent of their involvement in the development of human liver cancers is unknown. Here, we show that activation of JNK1 but not JNK2 was increased in human primary hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). Further, JNK1 was required for human HCC cell proliferation in vitro and tumorigenesis after xenotransplantation. Importantly, mice lacking JNK1 displayed decreased tumor cell proliferation in a mouse model of liver carcinogenesis and decreased hepatocyte proliferation in a mouse model of liver regeneration. In both cases, impaired proliferation was caused by increased expression of p21, a cell-cycle inhibitor, and reduced expression of c-Myc, a negative regulator of p21. Genetic inactivation of p21 in JNK1-/- mice restored hepatocyte proliferation in models of both liver carcinogenesis and liver regeneration, and overexpression of c-Myc increased proliferation of JNK1-/- liver cells. Similarly, JNK1 was found to control the proliferation of human HCC cells by affecting p21 and c-Myc expression. Pharmacologic inhibition of JNK reduced the growth of both xenografted human HCC cells and chemically induced mouse liver cancers. These findings provide a mechanistic link between JNK activity and liver cell proliferation via p21 and c-Myc and suggest JNK targeting can be considered as a new therapeutic approach for HCC treatment.