Loss of c-Jun N-terminal Kinase 1 and 2 Function in Liver Epithelial Cells Triggers Biliary Hyperproliferation Resembling Cholangiocarcinoma.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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:A major link between inflammation and cancer is provided by NF-kappaB transcription factors. Ikkbeta(Deltahep) mice, which specifically lack IkappaB kinase beta (IKKbeta), an activator of NF-kappaB, in hepatocytes, are unable to activate NF-kappaB in response to proinflammatory stimuli, such as TNF-alpha. Surprisingly, Ikkbeta(Deltahep) mice are hypersusceptible to diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced hepatocarcinogenesis. Because defective NF-kappaB activation promotes sustained c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation in cells exposed to TNF-alpha, whose expression is induced by DEN, and JNK activity is required for normal hepatocyte proliferation, we examined whether increased susceptibility to DEN-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in Ikkbeta(Deltahep) mice requires JNK activation. Hepatocytes express both JNK1 and JNK2, but previous studies indicate that JNK1 is more important for hepatocyte proliferation. We therefore investigated this hypothesis using mice homozygous for a JNK1 deficiency either in wild-type or Ikkbeta(Deltahep) backgrounds. In both cases, mice lacking JNK1 were much less susceptible to DEN-induced hepatocarcinogenesis. This impaired tumorigenesis correlated with decreased expression of cyclin D and vascular endothelial growth factor, diminished cell proliferation, and reduced tumor neovascularization. Whereas hepatocyte-specific deletion of IKKbeta augmented DEN-induced hepatocyte death and cytokine-driven compensatory proliferation, disruption of JNK1 abrogated this response. In addition to underscoring the importance of JNK1-mediated hepatocyte death and compensatory proliferation, these results strongly suggest that the control of tissue renewal through the IKK and JNK pathways plays a key role in liver carcinogenesis.
Project description:The c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling pathway has been implicated in the development of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-dependent hepatitis. JNK may play a critical role in hepatocytes during TNF-stimulated cell death in vivo. To test this hypothesis, we examined the phenotype of mice with compound disruption of the Jnk1 and Jnk2 genes. Mice with loss of JNK1/2 expression in hepatocytes exhibited no defects in the development of hepatitis compared with control mice, whereas mice with loss of JNK1/2 in the hematopoietic compartment exhibited a profound defect in hepatitis that was associated with markedly reduced expression of TNF-alpha. These data indicate that JNK is required for TNF-alpha expression but not for TNF-alpha-stimulated death of hepatocytes. Indeed, TNF-alpha induced similar hepatic damage in both mice with hepatocyte-specific JNK1/2 deficiency and control mice. These observations confirm a role for JNK in the development of hepatitis but identify hematopoietic cells as the site of the essential function of JNK.
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:Retinoid X receptor alpha (RXRalpha), the heterodimeric partner for multiple nuclear receptors (NRs), was shown to be an essential target for inflammation-induced cJun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling in vitro. This study aimed to explore the role of hepatic JNK signaling and its effects on nuclear RXRalpha levels downstream of interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) in vivo.Effects of IL-1beta on hepatic NR-dependent gene expression, nuclear RXRalpha levels, and roles for individual JNK isoforms were studied in wild-type, Jnk1(-/-), and Jnk2(-/-) mice and in primary hepatocytes of each genotype.IL-1beta administration showed a time-dependent reduction in expression of the hepatic NR-dependent genes Ntcp, Cyp7a1, Cyp8b1, Abcg5, Mrp2, and Mrp3. IL-1beta treatment for 1h activated JNK and resulted in both post-translational modification and reduction of nuclear RXRalpha. In wild-type primary hepatocytes, IL-1beta modified and reduced nuclear RXRalpha levels time dependently, which was prevented by chemical inhibition of JNK as well as by inhibition of proteasomal degradation. Individual absence of either JNK1 or JNK2 did not significantly influence the reduction or modification of hepatic nuclear RXRalpha by IL-1beta both in vivo and in primary hepatocytes.Functional redundancy exists for JNK1 and JNK2 in IL-1beta-mediated alterations of hepatic nuclear RXRalpha levels, stressing the importance of this pathway in mediating the hepatic response to inflammation.
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: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: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: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.