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1.  Female Nur77-Deficient Mice Show Increased Susceptibility to Diet-Induced Obesity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53836.
Adipose tissue is essential in the regulation of body weight. The key process in fat catabolism and the provision of energy substrate during times of nutrient deprivation or enhanced energy demand is the hydrolysis of triglycerides and the release of fatty acids and glycerol. Nur77 is a member of the NR4A subfamily of nuclear receptors that plays an important metabolic role, modulating hepatic glucose metabolism and lipolysis in muscle. However, its endogenous role on white adipose tissue, as well as the gender dependency of these mechanisms, remains largely unknown. Male and female wild type and Nur77 deficient mice were fed with a high fat diet (45% calories from fat) for 4 months. Mice were analyzed in vivo with the indirect calorimetry system, and tissues were analyzed by real-time PCR and Western blot analysis. Female, but not male Nur77 deficient mice, gained more weight and fat mass when compared to wild type mice fed with high fat diet, which can be explained by decreased energy expenditure. The lack of Nur77 also led to a decreased pHSL/HSL ratio in white adipose tissue and increased expression of CIDEA in brown adipose tissue of female Nur77 deficient mice. Overall, these findings suggest that Nur77 is an important physiological modulator of lipid metabolism in adipose tissue and that there are gender differences in the sensitivity to deletion of the Nur77 signaling. The decreased energy expenditure and the actions of Nur77 on liver, muscle, brown and white adipose tissue contribute to the increased susceptibility to diet-induced obesity in females lacking Nur77.
PMCID: PMC3544711  PMID: 23342015
2.  Nur77 coordinately regulates expression of genes linked to glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle 
Innervation is important for normal metabolism in skeletal muscle, including insulin-sensitive glucose uptake. However, the transcription factors that transduce signals from the neuromuscular junction to the nucleus and affect changes in metabolic gene expression are not well defined. We demonstrate here that the orphan nuclear receptor Nur77 is a regulator of gene expression linked to glucose utilization in muscle. In vivo, Nur77 is preferentially expressed in glycolytic compared to oxidative muscle and is responsive to β-adrenergic stimulation. Denervation of rat muscle compromises expression of Nur77 in parallel with that of numerous genes linked to glucose metabolism, including GLUT4 and genes involved in glycolysis, glycogenolysis, and the glycerophosphate shuttle. Ectopic expression of Nur77, either in rat muscle or in C2C12 muscle cells, induces expression of a highly overlapping set of genes, including GLUT4, muscle phosphofructokinase, and glycogen phosphorylase. Furthermore, selective knockdown of Nur77 in rat muscle by shRNA or genetic deletion of Nur77 in mice reduces the expression of a battery of genes involved in skeletal muscle glucose utilization in vivo. Finally, we show that Nur77 binds the promoter regions of multiple innervation-dependent genes in muscle. These results identify Nur77 as a potential mediator of neuromuscular signaling in the control of metabolic gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2602962  PMID: 17550977
Nur77; glucose metabolism; skeletal muscle
3.  Inhibition of adipocyte differentiation by Nur77, Nurr1 and Nor1 
Members of the NR4A subgroup of nuclear receptors have been implicated in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism in insulin-sensitive tissues such as liver and skeletal muscle. However, their function in adipocytes is not well defined. Previous studies have reported that these receptors are rapidly upregulated following treatment of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes with an adipogenic cocktail. We show here that although Nur77 expression is acutely induced by cAMP agonists in 3T3-L1 cells, it is not induced by other adipogenic stimuli, such as PPARγ ligands, nor is it induced during the differentiation of 3T3-F442A preadipocytes, suggesting that Nur77 induction is not an obligatory feature of preadipocyte differentiation. We further demonstrate that inflammatory signals that antagonize differentiation, such as TNFα and lipopolysaccharide, acutely induce Nur77 expression both in vitro and in vivo. We also show that NR4A expression in adipose tissue is responsive to fasting/refeeding. Retroviral transduction of each of the NR4A receptors (Nur77, Nurr1 and NOR1) into either 3T3-L1 or 3T3-F442A preadipocytes potently inhibits adipogenesis. Interestingly, NR4A-mediated inhibition of adipogenesis cannot not be rescued by PPARγ overexpression or activation. Transcriptional profiling of Nur77-expressing preadipocytes led to the identification of gap-junction protein alpha 1 (Gja1) and tolloid-like 1 (Tll1) as Nur77-responsive genes. Remarkably, retroviral expression of either Gja1 or Tll1 in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes also inhibited adipocyte differentiation, implicating these genes as potential mediators of Nur77’s effects on adipogenesis. Finally, we show that Nur77 expression inhibits mitotic clonal expansion of preadipocytes, providing an additional mechanism by which Nur77 may inhibit adipogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2610364  PMID: 18945812
Nuclear Receptor; Nur77; adipogenesis; differentiation
4.  The Orphan Nuclear Receptor Nur77 Is a Determinant of Myofiber Size and Muscle Mass in Mice 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2015;35(7):1125-1138.
We previously showed that the orphan nuclear receptor Nur77 (Nr4a1) plays an important role in the regulation of glucose homeostasis and oxidative metabolism in skeletal muscle. Here, we show using both gain- and loss-of-function models that Nur77 is also a regulator of muscle growth in mice. Transgenic expression of Nur77 in skeletal muscle in mice led to increases in myofiber size. Conversely, mice with global or muscle-specific deficiency in Nur77 exhibited reduced muscle mass and myofiber size. In contrast to Nur77 deficiency, deletion of the highly related nuclear receptor NOR1 (Nr4a3) had minimal effect on muscle mass and myofiber size. We further show that Nur77 mediates its effects on muscle size by orchestrating transcriptional programs that favor muscle growth, including the induction of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), as well as concomitant downregulation of growth-inhibitory genes, including myostatin, Fbxo32 (MAFbx), and Trim63 (MuRF1). Nur77-mediated increase in IGF1 led to activation of the Akt-mTOR-S6K cascade and the inhibition of FoxO3a activity. The dependence of Nur77 on IGF1 was recapitulated in primary myoblasts, establishing this as a cell-autonomous effect. Collectively, our findings identify Nur77 as a novel regulator of myofiber size and a potential transcriptional link between cellular metabolism and muscle growth.
PMCID: PMC4355536  PMID: 25605333
5.  Nur77 Decreases Atherosclerosis Progression in apoE−/− Mice Fed a High-Fat/High-Cholesterol Diet 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87313.
It is clear that lipid disorder and inflammation are associated with cardiovascular diseases and underlying atherosclerosis. Nur77 has been shown to be involved in inflammatory response and lipid metabolism.
Here, we explored the role of Nur77 in atherosclerotic plaque progression in apoE−/− mice fed a high-fat/high cholesterol diet.
Methods and Results
The Nur77 gene, a nuclear hormone receptor, was highly induced by treatment with Cytosporone B (Csn-B, specific Nur77 agonist), recombinant plasmid over-expressing Nur77 (pcDNA-Nur77), while inhibited by treatment with siRNAs against Nur77 (si-Nur77) in THP-1 macrophage-derived foam cells, HepG2 cells and Caco-2 cells, respectively. In addition, the expression of Nur77 was highly induced by Nur77 agonist Csn-B, lentivirus encoding Nur77 (LV-Nur77), while silenced by lentivirus encoding siRNA against Nur77 (si-Nur77) in apoE−/− mice fed a high-fat/high cholesterol diet, respectively. We found that increased expression of Nur77 reduced macrophage-derived foam cells formation and hepatic lipid deposition, downregulated gene levels of inflammatory molecules, adhesion molecules and intestinal lipid absorption, and decreases atherosclerotic plaque formation.
These observations provide direct evidence that Nur77 is an important nuclear hormone receptor in regulation of atherosclerotic plaque formation and thus represents a promising target for the treatment of atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3909091  PMID: 24498071
6.  Skeletal muscle Nur77 expression enhances oxidative metabolism and substrate utilization[S] 
Journal of Lipid Research  2012;53(12):2610-2619.
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. Identifying novel regulators of mitochondrial bioenergetics will broaden our understanding of regulatory checkpoints that coordinate complex metabolic pathways. We previously showed that Nur77, an orphan nuclear receptor of the NR4A family, regulates the expression of genes linked to glucose utilization. Here we demonstrate that expression of Nur77 in skeletal muscle also enhances mitochondrial function. We generated MCK-Nur77 transgenic mice that express wild-type Nur77 specifically in skeletal muscle. Nur77-overexpressing muscle had increased abundance of oxidative muscle fibers and mitochondrial DNA content. Transgenic muscle also exhibited enhanced oxidative metabolism, suggestive of increased mitochondrial activity. Metabolomic analysis confirmed that Nur77 transgenic muscle favored fatty acid oxidation over glucose oxidation, mimicking the metabolic profile of fasting. Nur77 expression also improved the intrinsic respiratory capacity of isolated mitochondria, likely due to the increased abundance of complex I of the electron transport chain. These changes in mitochondrial metabolism translated to improved muscle contractile function ex vivo and improved cold tolerance in vivo. Our studies outline a novel role for Nur77 in the regulation of oxidative metabolism and mitochondrial activity in skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC3494265  PMID: 23028113
Nr4a; nuclear receptor; mitochondria
7.  Nur77 prevents excessive osteoclastogenesis by inducing ubiquitin ligase Cbl-b to mediate NFATc1 self-limitation 
eLife  null;4:e07217.
Osteoclasts are bone-resorbing cells essential for skeletal remodeling. However, over-active osteoclasts can cause bone-degenerative disorders. Therefore, the level of NFATc1, the master transcription factor of osteoclast, must be tightly controlled. Although the activation and amplification of NFATc1 have been extensively studied, how NFATc1 signaling is eventually resolved is unclear. Here, we uncover a novel and critical role of the orphan nuclear receptor Nur77 in mediating an NFATc1 self-limiting regulatory loop to prevent excessive osteoclastogenesis. Nur77 deletion leads to low bone mass owing to augmented osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption. Mechanistically, NFATc1 induces Nur77 expression at late stage of osteoclast differentiation; in turn, Nur77 transcriptionally up-regulates E3 ubiquitin ligase Cbl-b, which triggers NFATc1 protein degradation. These findings not only identify Nur77 as a key player in osteoprotection and a new therapeutic target for bone diseases, but also elucidate a previously unrecognized NFATc1→Nur77→Cblb—•NFATc1 feedback mechanism that confers NFATc1 signaling autoresolution.
eLife digest
Bones are constantly remodeled in response to the stresses of everyday life. Cells called osteoclasts break down old or damaged bone and cells called osteoblasts make new bone. In healthy bones, the work of these two types of cells is well balanced. But in bone-weakening diseases like osteoporosis and certain bone cancers this balance is disturbed and the osteoclasts become overly active, leading to weak and thin bones.
Some drugs can help block the development of osteoclasts and help reduce bone loss in these diseases, but they may cause unwanted side effects. A better understanding of the processes that maintain a healthy balance of osteoblasts and osteoclasts could help scientists develop better treatments with fewer side effects. Scientists have already learned that a protein called NFATc1 turns on the production of osteoclasts. But no one knew how NFATc1 is turned off in healthy bone to prevent the excessive growth of osteoclasts and too much bone turnover.
Now, Li et al. have identified a protein called Nur77 as an important regulator of NFATc1 by examining genetically engineered mice that lack Nur77. These modified mice had more osteoclasts and thinner bones than normal mice. Further experiments used radiation to wipe out the bone marrow of normal mice, who then received bone marrow transplants from mice that lacked Nur77. After the transplant, the normal mice showed bone loss. When the experiment was reversed, and Nur77-lacking mice received bone marrow from normal mice, their bone loss was alleviated. This indicates that Nur77 acts in the bone marrow cells to control osteoclasts and skeletal health.
Li et al. found that Nur77 cannot control the expression of the gene that encodes NFATc1 or directly bind to the NFATc1 protein. Instead, Nur77 increases the production of an enzyme that breaks down the NFATc1 protein. Unexpectedly, the experiments also found that NFATc1 turns on the expression of Nur77. This means that NFATc1 essentially regulates itself by increasing its own breakdown when NFATc1 levels increase. This helps to explain how osteoclast production is normally kept in check, and may suggest new strategies for treating bone diseases.
PMCID: PMC4518709  PMID: 26173181
Nur77; NFATc1; osteoclast; Cbl-b; bone resorption; mouse
8.  Upregulation of orphan nuclear receptor Nur77 following PGF2α, Bimatoprost, and Butaprost treatments. Essential role of a protein kinase C pathway involved in EP2 receptor activated Nur77 gene transcription 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2004;142(4):737-748.
Using gene chip technology, we first identified that PGF2α (FP agonist) and Butaprost (EP2 agonist) induced about a five-fold upregulation of Nur77 mRNA expression in hFP-HEK 293/EBNA and hEP2-HEK293/EBNA cells. Northern Blot analysis revealed that PGF2α- and Butaprost-induced upregulation of Nur77 expression are dose- and time-dependent.Both PGF2α and Butaprost upregulated Nur77 gene expression through the protein kinase C (PKC) pathway. These data are the first showing a link between EP2 receptor stimulation and protein kinase C activation. Calcineurin was found to be involved downstream of the PKC pathway in PGF2α-induced Nur77 expression, but not in Butaprost-induced Nur77 expression.We also used Nur77 as a marker gene to compare the effects of PGF2α, Butaprost, and Bimatoprost (a prostamide) on Nur77 expression in human primary trabecular meshwork and ciliary smooth muscle (SM) cells, which are target cells for antiglaucoma drugs. The results showed that PGF2α and Butaprost, but not Bimatoprost, induced upregulation of Nur77 expression in human TM cells. PGF2α, but not Bimatoprost, dramatically induced upregulation of Nur77 mRNA expression in human ciliary SM cells, whereas Butaprost slightly upregulated Nur77 mRNA expression in SM cells.Nur77 promoter deletion analysis indicated that PGF2α, but not Bimatoprost, activated Nur77 promoter-luciferase reporter in hFP-HEK 293/EBNA cells. Butaprost was less efficacious in inducing Nur77 promoter-luciferase reporter activity in hEP2-HEK293/EBNA cells relative to PGF2α in the comparable assay. The data for Nur77 promoter functional analysis were matched to the Northern blot analysis.It appears that PGF2α and Butaprost activate Nur77 transcription mechanisms through the activation of FP and EP2 receptor-coupled signaling pathways, whereas Bimatoprost stimulates neither FP nor EP2 receptors.
PMCID: PMC1575044  PMID: 15159280
Transcription regulation; Nur77; prostaglandin F2α; butaprost; bimatoprost; gene expression
9.  Inhibition of Nur77/Nurr1 leads to inefficient clonal deletion of self- reactive T cells 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1996;183(4):1879-1892.
The Nur77/Nurr1 family of DNA binding proteins has been reported to be required for the signal transduction of CD3/T cell receptor (TCR)- mediated apoptosis in T cell hybridomas. To determine the role of this family of DNA-binding proteins in thymic clonal deletion, transgenic (Tg) mice bearing a dominant negative mutation were produced. The transgene consisted of a truncated Nur77 (deltaNur77) gene encoding the DNA-binding domain of Nur77 ligated to a TCR-beta enhancer resulting in early expression in thymocytes. Apoptosis of CD4+CD8+ thymocytes mediated by CD3/TCR signaling was greatly inhibited in the deltaNur77 Tg mice, compared with non-Tg littermates, after treatment with anti- CD3 or anti-TCR antibody in vivo and in vitro. Clonal deletion of self- reactive T cells was investigated in deltaNur77-Db/HY TCR-alpha/beta double Tg mice. There was a five-fold increase in the total number of thymocytes expressing self-reactive Db/HY TCR-alpha/beta in the deltaNur77-TCR-alpha/beta double Tg male mice. Deficient clonal deletion of self-reactive thymocytes was demonstrated by a 10-fold increase in the CD4+CD8+ thymocytes that expressed Tg TCR-alpha/beta. There was an eightfold increase in the CD8+, Db/HY TCR-alpha/beta T cells in the lymph nodes (LN) of delta Nur77-Db/HY TCR-alpha/beta double Tg compared with Db/HY TCR-alpha/beta Tg male mice. In spite of defective clonal deletion, the T cells expressing the Tg TCR were functionally anergic. In vivo analysis revealed increased activation and apoptosis of T cells associated with increased expression of Fas and Fas ligand in LN of deltaNur77-Db/HY TCR-alpha/beta double male mice. These results indicate that inhibition of Nur77/Nurr1 DNA binding in T cells leads to inefficient thymic clonal deletion, but T cell tolerance is maintained by Fas-dependent clonal deletion in LN and spleen.
PMCID: PMC2192482  PMID: 8666944
10.  Bone marrow NR4A expression is not a dominant factor in the development of atherosclerosis or macrophage polarization in mice[S] 
Journal of Lipid Research  2013;54(3):806-815.
The formation of the atherosclerotic lesion is a complex process influenced by an array of inflammatory and lipid metabolism pathways. We previously demonstrated that NR4A nuclear receptors are highly induced in macrophages in response to inflammatory stimuli and modulate the expression of genes linked to inflammation in vitro. Here we used mouse genetic models to assess the impact of NR4A expression on atherosclerosis development and macrophage polarization. Transplantation of wild-type, Nur77−/−, or Nor1−/− null hematopoetic precursors into LDL receptor (LDLR)−/− recipient mice led to comparable development of atherosclerotic lesions after high-cholesterol diet. We also observed comparable induction of genes linked to M1 and M2 responses in wild-type and Nur77-null macrophages in response to lipopolysaccharides and interleukin (IL)-4, respectively. In contrast, activation of the nuclear receptor liver X receptor (LXR) strongly suppressed M1 responses, and ablation of signal transductor and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6) strongly suppressed M2 responses. Recent studies have suggested that alterations in levels of Ly6Clo monocytes may be a contributor to inflammation and atherosclerosis. In our study, loss of Nur77, but not Nor1, was associated with decreased abundance of Ly6Clo monocytes, but this change was not correlated with atherosclerotic lesion development. Collectively, our results suggest that alterations in the Ly6Clo monocyte population and bone marrow NR4A expression do not play dominant roles in macrophage polarization or the development of atherosclerosis in mice.
PMCID: PMC3617954  PMID: 23288947
Nur77; Ly6C; nuclear receptor
11.  Skeletal muscle salt inducible kinase 1 promotes insulin resistance in obesity 
Molecular Metabolism  2015;5(1):34-46.
Insulin resistance causes type 2 diabetes mellitus and hyperglycemia due to excessive hepatic glucose production and inadequate peripheral glucose uptake. Our objectives were to test the hypothesis that the proposed CREB/CRTC2 inhibitor salt inducible kinase 1 (SIK1) contributes to whole body glucose homeostasis in vivo by regulating hepatic transcription of gluconeogenic genes and also to identify novel SIK1 actions on glucose metabolism.
We created conditional (floxed) SIK1-knockout mice and studied glucose metabolism in animals with global, liver, adipose or skeletal muscle Sik1 deletion. We examined cAMP-dependent regulation of SIK1 and the consequences of SIK1 depletion on primary mouse hepatocytes. We probed metabolic phenotypes in tissue-specific SIK1 knockout mice fed high fat diet through hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps and biochemical analysis of insulin signaling.
SIK1 knockout mice are viable and largely normoglycemic on chow diet. On high fat diet, global SIK1 knockout animals are strikingly protected from glucose intolerance, with both increased plasma insulin and enhanced peripheral insulin sensitivity. Surprisingly, liver SIK1 is not required for regulation of CRTC2 and gluconeogenesis, despite contributions of SIK1 to hepatocyte CRTC2 and gluconeogenesis regulation ex vivo. Sik1 mRNA accumulates in skeletal muscle of obese high fat diet-fed mice, and knockout of SIK1 in skeletal muscle, but not liver or adipose tissue, improves insulin sensitivity and muscle glucose uptake on high fat diet.
SIK1 is dispensable for glycemic control on chow diet. SIK1 promotes insulin resistance on high fat diet by a cell-autonomous mechanism in skeletal muscle. Our study establishes SIK1 as a promising therapeutic target to improve skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity in obese individuals without deleterious effects on hepatic glucose production.
Graphical abstract
•We report the first conditional SIK1 knockout mouse models.•Global and muscle-specific SIK1-KO mice are insulin sensitive on HFD.•Liver- and fat-specific SIK1-KO mice are normoglycemic.•SIK1 expression increases in skeletal muscle of obese mice.•SIK1 is a promising therapeutic target to improve insulin sensitivity in obesity.
PMCID: PMC4703802  PMID: 26844205
SIK1; Salt inducible kinase; CRTC; Gluconeogenesis; Insulin resistance; CREB; AKT, protein kinase B; AMPK, AMP-activated protein kinase; BAT, brown adipose tissue; cAMP, cyclic adenosine monophosphate; CHX, cycloheximide; CREB, cAMP response element-binding protein; CRTC, CREB regulated transcription coactivator; EndoRa, endogenous rate of glucose appearance; FGF21, fibroblast growth factor 21; FOXO1, forkhead box protein O1; FSK, forskolin; G6pase, glucose 6-phosphatase; GDR, glucose disposal rate; GIR, glucose infusion rate; Glgn, glucagon; GTT, glucose tolerance test; Glut, glucose transporter; HDAC, histone deacetylase; HFD, high fat diet; HSP, heat shock protein; IBMX, 3-isobutyl-1-methylxantine; ITT, insulin tolerance test; Pepck, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase; Pgc, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator; PTT, pyruvate tolerance test; SIK, salt inducible kinase; WAT, white adipose tissue
12.  Bile Acids Regulate Nuclear Receptor (Nur77) Expression and Intracellular Location to Control Proliferation and Apoptosis 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2014;13(2):281-292.
Bile acids (BAs) are endogenous agents capable of causing cancer throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. To uncover the mechanism by which BAs exert carcinogenic effects, both human liver and colon cancer cells as well as mouse primary hepatocytes were treated with BAs and assayed for viability, genotoxic stress, and transcriptional response. BAs induced both Nur77 (NR4A1) and pro-inflammatory gene expression. The intracellular location of BA-induced Nur77 was time-dependent; short-term (1–3 h) exposure induced nuclear Nur77 whereas longer (1–2 days) exposure also increased cytosolic Nur77 expression and apoptosis. Inhibiting Nur77 nuclear export with leptomycin B decreased LCA-induced apoptosis. Extended (7 days) treatment with BA generated resistance to BA with increased nuclear Nur77, viability, and mobility. While, knockdown of Nur77 in BA-resistant cells increased cellular susceptibility to LCA-induced apoptosis. Moreover, in vivo mouse xenograft experiments demonstrated that BA-resistant cells form larger tumors with elevated Nur77 expression compared to parental controls. DNA-binding and gene expression assays identified multiple survival genes (CDK4, CCND2, MAP4K5, STAT5A, and RBBP8) and a pro-apoptosis gene (BID) as Nur77 targets. Consistently, BA-induced up-regulation of the aforementioned genes was abrogated by a lack of Nur77. Importantly, Nur77 was overexpressed in high percentage of human colon and liver cancer specimens and the intracellular location of Nur77 correlated with elevated serum total BA levels in colon cancer patients. These data show for the first time that BAs via Nur77 have a dual role in modulating cell survival and death.
Implications: These findings establish a direct link between Nur77 and the carcinogenic effect of bile acids.
PMCID: PMC4336821  PMID: 25232032
Nuclear receptor; gastrointestinal cancer; DNA damage; inflammation
13.  Nur77-deficiency in bone marrow-derived macrophages modulates inflammatory responses, extracellular matrix homeostasis, phagocytosis and tolerance 
BMC Genomics  2016;17:162.
The nuclear orphan receptor Nur77 (NR4A1, TR3, or NGFI-B) has been shown to modulate the inflammatory response of macrophages. To further elucidate the role of Nur77 in macrophage physiology, we compared the transcriptome of bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMM) from wild-type (WT) and Nur77-knockout (KO) mice.
In line with previous observations, SDF-1α (CXCL12) was among the most upregulated genes in Nur77-deficient BMM and we demonstrated that Nur77 binds directly to the SDF-1α promoter, resulting in inhibition of SDF-1α expression. The cytokine receptor CX3CR1 was strongly downregulated in Nur77-KO BMM, implying involvement of Nur77 in macrophage tolerance. Ingenuity pathway analyses (IPA) to identify canonical pathways regulation and gene set enrichment analyses (GSEA) revealed a potential role for Nur77 in extracellular matrix homeostasis. Nur77-deficiency increased the collagen content of macrophage extracellular matrix through enhanced expression of several collagen subtypes and diminished matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 activity. IPA upstream regulator analyses discerned the small GTPase Rac1 as a novel regulator of Nur77-mediated gene expression. We identified an inhibitory feedback loop with increased Rac1 activity in Nur77-KO BMM, which may explain the augmented phagocytic activity of these cells. Finally, we predict multiple chronic inflammatory diseases to be influenced by macrophage Nur77 expression. GSEA and IPA associated Nur77 to osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and allergic airway inflammatory diseases.
Altogether these data identify Nur77 as a modulator of macrophage function and an interesting target to treat chronic inflammatory disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-016-2469-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4774191  PMID: 26932821
Nur77; TR3; NR4A1; Macrophage; Collagen; Inflammation; SDF-1α; Rac1; CX3CR1
14.  Orphan Nuclear Receptor Nur77 Regulates Androgen Receptor Gene Expression in Mouse Ovary 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39950.
The androgen receptor (AR) is a nuclear receptor that is expressed in growing follicles and involved in folliculogenesis and follicle growth. The orphan nuclear receptor, Nur77, also has an important role in steroid signaling and follicle maturation. We hypothesized that AR levels and androgen signaling through AR are regulated by Nur77 in the ovary. In the ovaries of Nur77 knockout mice (n = 5), real-time PCR results showed that the mRNA levels of AR and an androgen signaling target gene, Kitl, were decreased by 35% and 24%, respectively, relative to wild-type mice (n = 5), which suggested transcriptional regulation of AR by Nur77 in vivo. In cultured mouse granulosa cells and a steroidogenic human ovarian granulosa-like tumor cell line, KGN, mRNA and protein expression levels of AR were increased by overexpressing Nur77 but decreased by knocking down endogenous Nur77. Consistent with increased AR expression, chromatin immunoprecipitation showed that Nur77 bound to the NGFI-B response element (NBRE) in the AR promoter sequence. AR promoter activity was stimulated by Nur77 in HEK293T cells and attenuated in Nur77 knockout mouse granulosa cells (luciferase assay). Overexpression of Nur77 enhanced the androgenic induction of Kitl (200 nM; 48h), while knockout of Nur77 attenuated this induction. These results demonstrate that AR is regulated by Nur77 in the ovaries, and they suggest that the participation of Nur77 in androgen signaling may be essential for normal follicular development.
PMCID: PMC3386274  PMID: 22761936
15.  The orphan nuclear receptor Nur77 inhibits low shear stress-induced carotid artery remodeling in mice 
Shear stress, particularly low and oscillatory shear stress, plays a critical pathophysiological role in vascular remodeling-related cardiovascular diseases. Growing evidence suggests that the orphan nuclear receptor Nur77 [also known as TR3 or nuclear receptor subfamily 4, group A, member 1 (NR4A1)] is expressed in diseased human vascular tissue and plays an important role in vascular physiology and pathology. In the present study, we used a mouse model of flow-dependent remodeling by partial ligation of the left common carotid artery (LCCA) to define the exact role of Nur77 in vascular remodeling induced by low shear stress. Following vascular remodeling, Nur77 was highly expressed in neointimal vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) in the ligated carotid arteries. The reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels were elevated in the remodeled arteries in vivo and in primary rat VSMCs in vitro following stimulation with platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). Further in vitro experiments revealed that Nur77 expression was rapidly increased in the VSMCs following stimulation with PDGF and H2O2, whereas treatment with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC, a ROS scavenger) reversed the increase in the protein level of Nur77 induced by H2O2. Moreover, Nur77 overexpression markedly inhibited the proliferation and migration of VSMCs, induced by PDGF. Finally, to determine the in vivo role of Nur77 in low shear stress-induced vascular remodeling, wild-type (WT) and Nur77-deficient mice were subjected to partial ligation of the LCCA. Four weeks following surgery, in the LCCAs of the Nur77-deficient mice, a significant increase in the intima-media area and carotid intima-media thickness was noted, as well as more severe elastin disruption and collagen deposition compared to the WT mice. Immunofluorescence staining revealed an increase in VSMC proliferation [determined by the expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)] and matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) production in the Nur77-deficient mice. There was no difference in the number of intimal apoptotic cells between the groups. Taken together, our results indicate that Nur77 may be a sensor of oxidative stress and an inhibitor of vascular remodeling induced by low shear stress. Nur77, as well as its downstream cell signals, may thus be a potential therapeutic target for the suppression of vascular remodeling.
PMCID: PMC4678158  PMID: 26498924
vascular remodeling; nuclear receptor; Nur77; reactive oxygen species; vascular smooth muscle cells
16.  Limited Role of Nuclear Receptor Nur77 in Escherichia coli-Induced Peritonitis 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(1):253-264.
Nuclear receptor Nur77 (NR4A1, TR3, or NGFI-B) has been shown to play an anti-inflammatory role in macrophages, which have a crucial function in defense against peritonitis. The function of Nur77 in Escherichia coli-induced peritoneal sepsis has not yet been investigated. Wild-type and Nur77-knockout mice were inoculated with E. coli, and bacterial outgrowth, cell recruitment, cytokine profiles, and tissue damage were investigated. We found only a minor transient decrease in bacterial loads in lung and liver of Nur77-knockout compared to wild-type mice at 14 h postinfection, yet no changes were found in the peritoneal lavage fluid or blood. No differences in inflammatory cytokine levels or neutrophil/macrophage numbers were observed, and bacterial loads were equal in wild-type and Nur77-knockout mice at 20 h postinfection in all body compartments tested. Also, isolated peritoneal macrophages did not show any differences in cytokine expression patterns in response to E. coli. In endothelial cells, Nur77 strongly downregulated both protein and mRNA expression of claudin-5, VE-cadherin, occludin, ZO-1, and β-catenin, and accordingly, these genes were upregulated in lungs of Nur77-deficient mice. Functional permeability tests pointed toward a strong role for Nur77 in endothelial barrier function. Indeed, tissue damage in E. coli-induced peritonitis was notably modulated by Nur77; liver necrosis and plasma aspartate aminotransferase (ASAT)/alanine aminotransferase (ALAT) levels were lower in Nur77-knockout mice. These data suggest that Nur77 does not play a role in the host response to E. coli in the peritoneal and blood compartments. However, Nur77 does modulate bacterial influx into the organs via increased vascular permeability, thereby aggravating distant organ damage.
PMCID: PMC3911847  PMID: 24166953
17.  Resistance of Foxp3+ Regulatory T Cells to Nur77-Induced Apoptosis Promotes Allograft Survival 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(5):e2321.
The NR4A nuclear receptor family member Nur77 (NR4A1) promotes thymocyte apoptosis during negative selection of autoreactive thymocytes, but may also function in mature extrathymic T cells. We studied the effects of over-expression of Nur77 on the apoptosis of murine peripheral T cells, including thymic-derived Foxp3+ regulatory (Treg) cells. Overexpression of Nur77 in the T cell lineage decreased numbers of peripheral CD4 and CD8 T cells by ∼80% compared to wild-type (WT) mice. However, the proportions of Treg cells were markedly increased in the thymus (61% of CD4+Foxp3+ singly positive thymocytes vs. 8% in WT) and secondary lymphoid organs (40–50% of CD4+Foxp3+ T cells vs. 7–8% in WT) of Nur77 transgenic (Nur77Tg) mice, and immunoprecipitation studies showed Nur77 was associated with a recently identified HDAC7/Foxp3 transcriptional complex. Upon activation through the T cell receptor in vitro or in vivo, Nur77Tg T cells showed only marginally decreased proliferation but significantly increased apoptosis. Fully allogeneic cardiac grafts transplanted to Nur77Tg mice survived long-term with well-preserved structure, and recipient splenocytes showed markedly enhanced apoptosis and greatly reduced anti-donor recall responses. Allografts in Nur77Tg recipients had significantly increased expression of multiple Treg-associated genes, including Foxp3, Foxp1, Tip60 and HDAC9. Allograft rejection was restored by CD25 monoclonal antibody therapy, indicating that allograft acceptance was dependent upon Treg function in Nur77Tg recipients. These data show that compared to conventional CD4 and CD8 T cells, Foxp3+ Tregs are relatively resistant to Nur77-mediated apoptosis, and that tipping the balance between the numbers of Tregs and responder T cells in the early period post-transplantation can determine the fate of the allograft. Hence, induced expression of Nur77 might be a novel means to achieve long-term allograft survival.
PMCID: PMC2386419  PMID: 18509529
18.  Common polymorphisms within the NR4A3 locus, encoding the orphan nuclear receptor Nor-1, are associated with enhanced β-cell function in non-diabetic subjects 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:77.
Neuron-derived orphan receptor (Nor) 1, nuclear receptor (Nur) 77, and nuclear receptor-related protein (Nurr) 1 constitute the NR4A family of orphan nuclear receptors which were recently found to modulate hepatic glucose production, insulin signalling in adipocytes, and oxidative metabolism in skeletal muscle. In this study, we assessed whether common genetic variation within the NR4A3 locus, encoding Nor-1, contributes to the development of prediabetic phenotypes, such as glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, or β-cell dysfunction.
We genotyped 1495 non-diabetic subjects from Southern Germany for the five tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs7047636, rs1526267, rs2416879, rs12686676, and rs10819699 (minor allele frequencies ≥ 0.05) covering 100% of genetic variation within the NR4A3 locus (with D' = 1.0, r2 ≥ 0.9) and assessed their association with metabolic data derived from the fasting state, an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), and a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp (subgroup, N = 506). SNPs that revealed consistent associations with prediabetic phenotypes were subsequently genotyped in a second cohort (METSIM Study; Finland; N = 5265) for replication.
All five SNPs were in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (p ≥ 0.7, all). The minor alleles of three SNPs, i.e., rs1526267, rs12686676, and rs10819699, consistently tended to associate with higher insulin release as derived from plasma insulin at 30 min(OGTT), AUCC-peptide-to-AUCGluc ratio and the AUCIns30-to-AUCGluc30 ratio with rs12686676 reaching the level of significance (p ≤ 0.03, all; additive model). The association of the SNP rs12686676 with insulin secretion was replicated in the METSIM cohort (p ≤ 0.03, additive model). There was no consistent association with glucose tolerance or insulin resistance in both study cohorts.
We conclude that common genetic variation within the NR4A3 locus determines insulin secretion. Thus, NR4A3 represents a novel candidate gene for β-cell function which was not covered by the SNP arrays of recent genome-wide association studies for type 2 diabetes mellitus.
PMCID: PMC2741445  PMID: 19682370
19.  NR4A1 (Nur77) Deletion Polarizes Macrophages Towards an Inflammatory Phenotype and Increases Atherosclerosis 
Circulation Research  2011;110(3):416-427.
NR4A1 (Nur77) is a nuclear receptor that is expressed in macrophages and within atherosclerotic lesions, yet its function in atherosclerosis is unknown.
Nur77 regulates the development of monocytes, particularly patrolling Ly6C− monocytes that may be involved in resolution of inflammation. We sought to determine how absence of NR4A1 in hematopoietic cells impacted atherosclerosis development.
Methods and Results
Nur77−/− chimeric mice on a Ldlr−/− background showed a 3-fold increase in atherosclerosis development when fed a Western diet for 20 weeks, despite having a drastic reduction in Ly6C− patrolling monocytes. In a second model, mice deficient in both Nur77 and ApoE (ApoE−/−Nur77−/−) also showed increased atherosclerosis after 11 weeks of Western diet. Atherosclerosis was associated with a significant change in macrophage polarization towards a pro-inflammatory phenotype, with high expression of TNFα and nitric oxide, and low expression of Arginase-I. Moreover, we found increased expression of TLR4 mRNA and protein in Nur77−/− macrophages as well as increased phosphorylation of the p65 subunit of NFκB. Inhibition of NFκB activity blocked excess activation of Nur77−/− macrophages.
We conclude that the absence of Nur77 in monocytes and macrophages results in enhanced TLR signaling and polarization of macrophages towards a pro-inflammatory M1 phenotype. Despite having fewer monocytes, Nur77−/− mice developed significant atherosclerosis when fed a Western diet. These studies indicate that Nur77 is a novel target for modulating the inflammatory phenotype of monocytes and macrophages and may be important for regulation of atherogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3309661  PMID: 22194622
monocyte; atherosclerosis; nuclear receptors; macrophage; toll-like receptors
20.  Muscle Mitochondrial ATP Synthesis and Glucose Transport/Phosphorylation in Type 2 Diabetes 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(5):e154.
Muscular insulin resistance is frequently characterized by blunted increases in glucose-6-phosphate (G-6-P) reflecting impaired glucose transport/phosphorylation. These abnormalities likely relate to excessive intramyocellular lipids and mitochondrial dysfunction. We hypothesized that alterations in insulin action and mitochondrial function should be present even in nonobese patients with well-controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
Methods and Findings
We measured G-6-P, ATP synthetic flux (i.e., synthesis) and lipid contents of skeletal muscle with 31P/1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy in ten patients with T2DM and in two control groups: ten sex-, age-, and body mass-matched elderly people; and 11 younger healthy individuals. Although insulin sensitivity was lower in patients with T2DM, muscle lipid contents were comparable and hyperinsulinemia increased G-6-P by 50% (95% confidence interval [CI] 39%–99%) in all groups. Patients with diabetes had 27% lower fasting ATP synthetic flux compared to younger controls (p = 0.031). Insulin stimulation increased ATP synthetic flux only in controls (younger: 26%, 95% CI 13%–42%; older: 11%, 95% CI 2%–25%), but failed to increase even during hyperglycemic hyperinsulinemia in patients with T2DM. Fasting free fatty acids and waist-to-hip ratios explained 44% of basal ATP synthetic flux. Insulin sensitivity explained 30% of insulin-stimulated ATP synthetic flux.
Patients with well-controlled T2DM feature slightly lower flux through muscle ATP synthesis, which occurs independently of glucose transport /phosphorylation and lipid deposition but is determined by lipid availability and insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, the reduction in insulin-stimulated glucose disposal despite normal glucose transport/phosphorylation suggests further abnormalities mainly in glycogen synthesis in these patients.
Michael Roden and colleagues report that even patients with well-controlled insulin-resistant type 2 diabetes have altered mitochondrial function.
Editors' Summary
Diabetes mellitus is an increasingly common chronic disease characterized by high blood sugar (glucose) levels. In normal individuals, blood sugar levels are maintained by the hormone insulin. Insulin is released by the pancreas when blood glucose levels rise after eating (glucose is produced by the digestion of food) and “instructs” insulin-responsive muscle and fat cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream. The cells then use glucose as a fuel or convert it into glycogen, a storage form of glucose. In type 2 diabetes, the commonest type of diabetes, the muscle and fat cells become nonresponsive to insulin (a condition called insulin resistance) and consequently blood glucose levels rise. Over time, this hyperglycemia increases the risk of heart attacks, kidney failure, and other life-threatening complications.
Why Was This Study Done?
Insulin resistance is often an early sign of type 2 diabetes, sometimes predating its development by many years, so understanding its causes might provide clues about how to stop the global diabetes epidemic. One theory is that mitochondria—cellular structures that produce the energy (in the form of a molecule called ATP) needed to keep cells functioning—do not work properly in people with insulin resistance. Mitochondria change (metabolize) fatty acids into energy, and recent studies have revealed that fat accumulation caused by poorly regulated fatty acid metabolism blocks insulin signaling, thus causing insulin resistance. Other studies using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to study mitochondrial function noninvasively in human muscle indicate that mitochondria are dysfunctional in people with insulin resistance by showing that ATP synthesis is impaired in such individuals. In this study, the researchers have examined both baseline and insulin-stimulated mitochondrial function in nonobese patients with well-controlled type 2 diabetes and in normal controls to discover more about the relationship between mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers determined the insulin sensitivity of people with type 2 diabetes and two sets of people (the “controls”) who did not have diabetes: one in which the volunteers were age-matched to the people with diabetes, and the other containing younger individuals (insulin resistance increases with age). To study insulin sensitivity in all three groups, the researchers used a “hyperinsulinemic–euglycemic clamp.” For this, after an overnight fast, the participants' insulin levels were kept high with a continuous insulin infusion while blood glucose levels were kept normal using a variable glucose infusion. In this situation, the glucose infusion rate equals glucose uptake by the body and therefore measures tissue sensitivity to insulin. Before and during the clamp, the researchers used MRS to measure glucose-6-phosphate (an indicator of how effectively glucose is taken into cells and phosphorylated), ATP synthesis, and the fat content of the participants' muscle cells. Insulin sensitivity was lower in the patients with diabetes than in the controls, but muscle lipid content was comparable and hyperinsulinemia increased glucose-6-phosphate levels similarly in all the groups. Patients with diabetes and the older controls had lower fasting ATP synthesis rates than the young controls and, whereas insulin stimulation increased ATP synthesis in all the controls, it had no effect in the patients with diabetes. In addition, fasting blood fatty acid levels were inversely related to basal ATP synthesis, whereas insulin sensitivity was directly related to insulin-stimulated ATP synthesis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the impairment of muscle mitochondrial ATP synthesis in fasting conditions and after insulin stimulation in people with diabetes is not due to impaired glucose transport/phosphorylation or fat deposition in the muscles. Instead, it seems to be determined by lipid availability and insulin sensitivity. These results add to the evidence suggesting that mitochondrial function is disrupted in type 2 diabetes and in insulin resistance, but also suggest that there may be abnormalities in glycogen synthesis. More work is needed to determine the exact nature of these abnormalities and to discover whether they can be modulated to prevent the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. For now, though, these findings re-emphasize the need for people with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance to reduce their food intake to compensate for the reduced energy needs of their muscles and to exercise to increase the ATP-generating capacity of their muscles. Both lifestyle changes could improve their overall health and life expectancy.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on diabetes
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information for patients on diabetes and insulin resistance
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on diabetes for patients and professionals
American Diabetes Association provides information for patients on diabetes and insulin resistance
Diabetes UK has information for patients and professionals on diabetes
PMCID: PMC1858707  PMID: 17472434
21.  Skeletal Muscle–Specific Deletion of Lipoprotein Lipase Enhances Insulin Signaling in Skeletal Muscle but Causes Insulin Resistance in Liver and Other Tissues 
Diabetes  2009;58(1):116-124.
OBJECTIVE—Skeletal muscle–specific LPL knockout mouse (SMLPL−/−) were created to study the systemic impact of reduced lipoprotein lipid delivery in skeletal muscle on insulin sensitivity, body weight, and composition.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Tissue-specific insulin sensitivity was assessed using a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp and 2-deoxyglucose uptake. Gene expression and insulin-signaling molecules were compared in skeletal muscle and liver of SMLPL−/− and control mice.
RESULTS—Nine-week-old SMLPL−/− mice showed no differences in body weight, fat mass, or whole-body insulin sensitivity, but older SMLPL−/− mice had greater weight gain and whole-body insulin resistance. High-fat diet feeding accelerated the development of obesity. In young SMLPL−/− mice, insulin-stimulated glucose uptake was increased 58% in the skeletal muscle, but was reduced in white adipose tissue (WAT) and heart. Insulin action was also diminished in liver: 40% suppression of hepatic glucose production in SMLPL−/− vs. 90% in control mice. Skeletal muscle triglyceride was 38% lower, and insulin-stimulated phosphorylated Akt (Ser473) was twofold greater in SMLPL−/− mice without changes in IRS-1 tyrosine phosphorylation and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity. Hepatic triglyceride and liver X receptor, carbohydrate response element–binding protein, and PEPCK mRNAs were unaffected in SMLPL−/− mice, but peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor (PPAR)-γ coactivator-1α and interleukin-1β mRNAs were higher, and stearoyl–coenzyme A desaturase-1 and PPARγ mRNAs were reduced.
CONCLUSIONS—LPL deletion in skeletal muscle reduces lipid storage and increases insulin signaling in skeletal muscle without changes in body composition. Moreover, lack of LPL in skeletal muscle results in insulin resistance in other key metabolic tissues and ultimately leads to obesity and systemic insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC2606858  PMID: 18952837
22.  Endocrine and neurogenic regulation of the orphan nuclear receptors Nur77 and Nurr-1 in the adrenal glands. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1994;14(5):3469-3483.
nurr77 and nurr-1 are growth factor-inducible members of the steroid/thyroid hormone receptor gene superfamily. In order to gain insight into the potential roles of nur77 in the living organism, we used pharmacologic treatments to examine the expression of nur77 in the mouse adrenal gland. We found that nur77 and nurr-1 are induced in the adrenal gland upon treatment with pentylene tetrazole (Ptz; Metrazole). This induction is separable into distinct endocrine and neurogenic mechanisms. In situ hybridization analysis demonstrates that nur77 expression upon Ptz treatment in the adrenal cortex is localized primarily to the inner cortical region, the zona fasciculata-reticularis, with minimal induction in the zona glomerulosa. This induction is inhibitable by pretreatment with dexamethasone, indicating involvement of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the activation of adrenal cortical expression. When mice were injected with adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), nur77 expression in the adrenal gland spanned all cortical layers including the zona glomerulosa, but medullary expression was not induced. Ptz also induces expression of both nur77 and nurr-1 in the adrenal medulla. Medullary induction is likely to have a neurogenic origin, as nur77 expression was not inhibitable by dexamethasone pretreatment and induction was seen after treatment with the cholinergic neurotransmitter nicotine. nur77 is also inducible by ACTH, forskolin, and the second messenger analog dibutyryl cyclic AMP in the ACTH-responsive adrenal cortical cell line Y-1. Significantly, Nur77 isolated from ACTH-stimulated Y-1 cells bound to its response element whereas Nur77 present in unstimulated cells did not. Moreover, Nur77 in ACTH-treated Y-1 cells was hypophosphorylated at serine 354 compared with that in untreated cells. These results, taken together with the previous observation that dephosphorylation of serine 354 affects DNA binding affinity in vitro, show for the first time that phosphorylation of Nur77 at serine 354 is under hormonal regulation, modulating its DNA binding affinity. Thus, ACTH regulates Nur77 in two ways: activation of its gene and posttranslational modification. A promoter analysis of nur77 induction in Y-1 cells indicates that the regulatory elements mediating ACTH induction differ from those required for induction in the adrenal medullary tumor cell line PC12 and in 3T3 fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC358711  PMID: 8164692
23.  Dopamine D2 Antagonist-Induced Striatal Nur77 Expression Requires Activation of mGlu5 Receptors by Cortical Afferents 
Dopamine D2 receptor antagonists modulate gene transcription in the striatum. However, the molecular mechanism underlying this effect remains elusive. Here we used the expression of Nur77, a transcription factor of the orphan nuclear receptor family, as readout to explore the role of dopamine, glutamate, and adenosine receptors in the effect of a dopamine D2 antagonist in the striatum. First, we investigated D2 antagonist-induced Nur77 mRNA in D2L receptor knockout mice. Surprisingly, deletion of the D2L receptor isoform did not reduce eticlopride-induced upregulation of Nur77 mRNA levels in the striatum. Next, we tested if an ibotenic acid-induced cortical lesion could block the effect of eticlopride on Nur77 expression. Cortical lesions strongly reduced eticlopride-induced striatal upregulation of Nur77 mRNA. Then, we investigated if glutamatergic neurotransmission could modulate eticlopride-induced Nur77 expression. A combination of a metabotropic glutamate type 5 (mGlu5) and adenosine A2A receptor antagonists abolished eticlopride-induced upregulation of Nur77 mRNA levels in the striatum. Direct modulation of Nur77 expression by striatal glutamate and adenosine receptors was confirmed using corticostriatal organotypic cultures. Taken together, these results indicate that blockade of postsynaptic D2 receptors is not sufficient to trigger striatal transcriptional activity and that interaction with corticostriatal presynaptic D2 receptors and subsequent activation of postsynaptic glutamate and adenosine receptors in the striatum is required. Thus, these results uncover an unappreciated role of presynaptic D2 heteroreceptors and support a prominent role of glutamate in the effect of D2 antagonists.
PMCID: PMC3418524  PMID: 22912617
antipsychotic drugs; neuroleptics; Nr4a1; transcription factor; organotypic culture; glutamate receptors; adenosine receptors; striatum
24.  Myostatin Inhibition in Muscle, but Not Adipose Tissue, Decreases Fat Mass and Improves Insulin Sensitivity 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4937.
Myostatin (Mstn) is a secreted growth factor expressed in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue that negatively regulates skeletal muscle mass. Mstn−/− mice have a dramatic increase in muscle mass, reduction in fat mass, and resistance to diet-induced and genetic obesity. To determine how Mstn deletion causes reduced adiposity and resistance to obesity, we analyzed substrate utilization and insulin sensitivity in Mstn−/− mice fed a standard chow. Despite reduced lipid oxidation in skeletal muscle, Mstn−/− mice had no change in the rate of whole body lipid oxidation. In contrast, Mstn−/− mice had increased glucose utilization and insulin sensitivity as measured by indirect calorimetry, glucose and insulin tolerance tests, and hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. To determine whether these metabolic effects were due primarily to the loss of myostatin signaling in muscle or adipose tissue, we compared two transgenic mouse lines carrying a dominant negative activin IIB receptor expressed specifically in adipocytes or skeletal muscle. We found that inhibition of myostatin signaling in adipose tissue had no effect on body composition, weight gain, or glucose and insulin tolerance in mice fed a standard diet or a high-fat diet. In contrast, inhibition of myostatin signaling in skeletal muscle, like Mstn deletion, resulted in increased lean mass, decreased fat mass, improved glucose metabolism on standard and high-fat diets, and resistance to diet-induced obesity. Our results demonstrate that Mstn−/− mice have an increase in insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake, and that the reduction in adipose tissue mass in Mstn−/− mice is an indirect result of metabolic changes in skeletal muscle. These data suggest that increasing muscle mass by administration of myostatin antagonists may be a promising therapeutic target for treating patients with obesity or diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2654157  PMID: 19295913
25.  Regulation of the Nur77 orphan steroid receptor in activation-induced apoptosis. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1995;15(11):6364-6376.
T-cell receptor (TCR)-mediated apoptosis in immature thymocytes and T-cell hybridomas is calcium dependent and can be inhibited by cyclosporin A (CsA). Induction of the orphan steroid receptor Nur77 (NGFI-B) is required for activation-induced apoptosis. Here, we examined the regulation of Nur77 expression, in response to apoptotic TCR signals, which consists of kinase C and calcium pathways. We show that the major control of Nur77 induction is mediated by the calcium signaling pathway. In contrast, protein kinase C signals induce only a low level of Nur77 activity. Nur77 promoter activity parallels its protein levels. CsA decreases both Nur77 protein levels and promoter activity, and the kinetics of CsA inhibition of apoptosis correlates with a decrease in Nur77 protein levels. TCR signals and kinase C signals result in a similar level of Nur77 protein phosphorylation but mediate differential transactivation activity of Nur77. In addition, Nur77 promoter deletion analysis revealed two RSRF (related to serum-responsive factor) binding sites, which can confer calcium and CsA sensitivity on a heterologous promoter. Taken together, our data suggest that the levels of transcriptional induction of Nur77 play an important role during activation-induced apoptosis and that calcium signals regulate a novel CsA-sensitive nuclear factor required for Nur77 transcription in T cells.
PMCID: PMC230888  PMID: 7565789

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