Project description:Intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) causes chronic back pain and is linked to production of proinflammatory molecules by nucleus pulposus (NP) and other disc cells. Activation of tonicity-responsive enhancer-binding protein (TonEBP)/NFAT5 by non-osmotic stimuli, including proinflammatory molecules, occurs in cells involved in immune response. However, whether inflammatory stimuli activate TonEBP in NP cells and whether TonEBP controls inflammation during IDD is unknown. We show that TNF-?, but not IL-1? or LPS, promoted nuclear enrichment of TonEBP protein. However, TNF-?-mediated activation of TonEBP did not cause induction of osmoregulatory genes. RNA sequencing showed that 8.5% of TNF-? transcriptional responses were TonEBP-dependent and identified genes regulated by both TNF-? and TonEBP. These genes were over-enriched in pathways and diseases related to inflammatory response and inhibition of matrix metalloproteases. Based on RNA-sequencing results, we further investigated regulation of novel TonEBP targets CXCL1, CXCL2, and CXCL3 TonEBP acted synergistically with TNF-? and LPS to induce CXCL1-proximal promoter activity. Interestingly, this regulation required a highly conserved NF-?B-binding site but not a predicted TonE, suggesting cross-talk between these two members of the Rel family. Finally, analysis of human NP tissue showed that TonEBP expression correlated with canonical osmoregulatory targets TauT/SLC6A6, SMIT/SLC5A3, and AR/AKR1B1, supporting in vitro findings that the inflammatory milieu during IDD does not interfere with TonEBP osmoregulation. In summary, whereas TonEBP participates in the proinflammatory response to TNF-?, therapeutic strategies targeting this transcription factor for treatment of disc disease must spare osmoprotective, prosurvival, and matrix homeostatic activities.
Project description:Transcription factor tonicity-responsive enhancer-binding protein (TonEBP/NFAT5) is critical for osmo-adaptation and extracellular matrix homeostasis of nucleus pulposus (NP) cells in their hypertonic tissue niche. Recent studies implicate TonEBP signaling in inflammatory disease and rheumatoid arthritis pathogenesis. However, broader functions of TonEBP in the disc remain unknown. RNA sequencing was performed on NP cells with TonEBP knockdown under hypertonic conditions. 1140 TonEBP-dependent genes were identified and categorized using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. Bioinformatic analysis showed enrichment of matrix homeostasis and cytokine/chemokine signaling pathways. C-C motif chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2), interleukin 6 (IL6), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and nitric oxide synthase 2 (NOS2) were studied further. Knockdown experiments showed that TonEBP was necessary to maintain expression levels of these genes. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments and site-directed mutagenesis demonstrated that TonEBP binding to a specific site in the CCL2 promoter is required for hypertonic inducibility. Despite inhibition by dominant-negative TonEBP, IL6 and NOS2 promoters were not hypertonicity-inducible. Whole-disc response to hypertonicity was studied in an ex vivo organ culture model, using wild-type and haploinsufficient TonEBP mice. Pro-inflammatory targets were induced by hypertonicity in discs from wild-type but not TonEBP-haploinsufficient mice. Mechanistically, NF-?B activity increased with hypertonicity and was necessary for hypertonic induction of target genes IL6, TNF, and NOS2 but not CCL2 Although TonEBP maintains transcription of genes traditionally considered pro-inflammatory, it is important to note that some of these genes also serve anabolic and pro-survival roles. Therefore, in NP cells, this phenomenon may reflect a physiological adaptation to diurnal osmotic loading of the intervertebral disc.
Project description:The objective of our study was to examine the regulation of hypoxic expression of heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) in nucleus pulposus cells and to determine if Hsp70 promoted hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1? degradation. Rat nucleus pulposus cells were maintained in culture in either 21% or 1% oxygen. To determine the regulation of Hsp70 expression by tonicity enhancer binding protein (TonEBP) and HIF-1/2, loss-of-function and gain-of-function experiments and mutational analysis of the Hsp70 promoter were performed. Hypoxia increased Hsp70 expression in nucleus pulposus cells. Noteworthy, hypoxia increased TonEBP transactivation and mutation of TonE motifs blocked hypoxic induction of the Hsp70 promoter. In contrast, mutation of hypoxia response element (HRE) motifs coupled with loss-of-function experiments suggested that HIF-1 and HIF-2 suppressed Hsp70 promoter activity and transcription. Interestingly, HIF-? interferes with TonEBP function and suppresses the inductive effect of TonEBP on the Hsp70 promoter. In terms of Hsp70 function, when treated with Hsp70 transcriptional inhibitor, KNK437, there was an increase in HIF-1? protein stability and transcriptional activity. Likewise, when Hsp70 was overexpressed, the stability of HIF-1? and its transcriptional activity decreased. Hsp70 interacted with HIF-1? under hypoxic conditions and evidenced increased binding when treated with MG132, a proteasomal inhibitor. These results suggest that Hsp70 may promote HIF-1? degradation through the proteasomal pathway in nucleus pulposus cells. In hypoxic and hyperosmolar nucleus pulposus cells, Hsp70, TonEBP, and HIFs form a regulatory loop. We propose that the positive regulation by TonEBP and negative regulation of Hsp70 by HIF-1 and HIF-2 may serve to maintain Hsp70 levels in these cells, whereas Hsp70 may function in controlling HIF-1? homeostasis.
Project description:Nucleus pulposus (NP) cells reside in a physiologically hyperosmotic environment within the intervertebral disc. TonEBP/NFAT5 is an osmo-sensitive transcription factor that controls expression of genes critical for cell survival under hyperosmotic conditions. A recent report on NP and studies of other cell types have shown that hyperosmolarity triggers autophagy. However, little is known whether such autophagy induction occurs through TonEBP. The goal of this study was to investigate the role of TonEBP in hyperosmolarity-dependent autophagy in NP. Loss-of-function studies showed that autophagy in NP cells was not TonEBP-dependent; hyperosmolarity did not upregulate autophagy as previously reported. NP tissue of haploinsufficient TonEBP mice showed normal pattern of LC3 staining. NP cells did not increase LC3-II or LC3-positive puncta under hyperosmotic conditions. Bafilomycin-A1 treatment and tandem mCherry-EGFP-LC3B reporter transfection demonstrated that the autophagic flux was unaffected by hyperosmolarity. Even under serum-free conditions, NP cells did not induce autophagy with increasing osmolarity. Hyperosmolarity did not change the phosphorylation of ULK1 by mTOR and AMPK. An ex vivo disc organ culture study supported that extracellular hyperosmolarity plays no role in promoting autophagy in the NP. We conclude that hyperosmolarity does not play a role in autophagy induction in NP cells.
Project description:RNA sequencing of nucleus pulposus cells transduced with shRNA (control or TonEBP-targeted) and either untreated or treated with TNF-a (24h) Overall design: Total mRNA was collected from primary nucleus pulposus cells and subjected to RNA sequencing, n=3 for all experimental groups
Project description: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.
Project description:The nucleus pulposus (NP) cells adapt to their physiologically hyperosmotic microenvironment through Tonicity-responsive enhancer binding protein (TonEBP/nuclear factor of activated T-cell5 [NFAT5])-mediated osmoregulation. Primary cilia in different organs serve diverse roles including osmosensing, but its contribution to NP cell osmoadaptive response is unknown. A high percentage of cultured primary NP cells possessed primary cilia that changed length in response to osmotic stimuli. Stable silencing of Intraflagellar Transport 88 (Ift88) or Kinesin Family Member 3?A (Kif3a) to inhibit the formation of primary cilia did not affect hyperosmotic upregulation of TonEBP. While ShKif3a blocked hyperosmotic increase of TonEBP-Transactivation Domain (TAD) activity, overall the knockdown of either gene did not alter the hyperosmotic status of proximal promoter activities and transcription of key TonEBP targets. On the other hand, a small decrease in TonEBP level under hypoosmotic condition was attenuated by Ift88 or Kif3a knockdown. Noteworthy, none of the TonEBP target genes were responsive to hypoosmotic stimulus in control and Ift88 or Kif3a knockdown cells, suggesting the primary role of TonEBP in the hyperosmotic adaptation of NP cells. Similarly, in Kif3a null mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), the overall TonEBP-dependent hyperosmotic responses were preserved. Unlike NP cells, TonEBP targets were responsive to hypoosmolarity in wild-type MEFs, and these responses remained intact in Kif3a null MEFs. Together, these results suggest that primary cilia are dispensable for TonEBP-dependent osmoadaptive response.
Project description:High osmolarity, bound water, and hydrostatic pressure contribute to notochord mechanics and its morphogenesis into the nucleus pulposus (NP) compartment of the intervertebral disc. Indeed, the osmoadaptive transcription factor, nuclear factor of activated T-cells 5 (NFAT5 aka TonEBP), is robustly expressed by resident cells of the notochord and NP. Nevertheless, the molecular mechanisms that drive notochord osmoregulation and the functions of NFAT5 in disc embryogenesis remain largely unexplored. In this study, we show that deletion of NFAT5 in mice results in delayed vertebral column development and a reduced NP aspect ratio in the caudal spine. This phenotype is associated with lower levels of the T-box transcription factor, Brachyury, delayed expression of notochord phenotypic markers, and decreased collagen II deposition in the perinotochordal sheath and condensing mesenchyme. In addition, NFAT5 mutants showed a stage-dependent dysregulation of sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling with non-classical expression of Gli1. Generation of mice with notochord-specific deletion of IFT88 (ShhcreERT2;Ift88f/f) supported this mode of Gli1 regulation. Using isolated primary NP cells and bioinformatics approaches, we further show that Ptch1 and Smo expression is controlled by NFAT5 in a cell autonomous manner. Altogether, our results demonstrate that NFAT5 contributes to notochord and disc embryogenesis through its regulation of hallmark notochord phenotypic markers, extracellular matrix, and Shh signaling.
Project description:RNA sequencing of nucleus pulposus cells transduced with control or TonEBP shRNA and cultured under hypertonic conditions Overall design: Total mRNA was collected from primary nucleus pulposus cells (both control and TonEBP knockdown cells and subjected to RNA sequencing, n=4 for both experimental groups