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1.  Progesterone Receptor in the Vascular Endothelium Triggers Physiological Uterine Permeability Pre-implantation 
Cell  2014;156(3):549-562.
Vascular permeability is frequently associated with inflammation and triggered by a cohort of secreted permeability factors such as VEGF. Here we show that the physiological vascular permeability that precedes implantation is directly controlled by progesterone receptor (PR) and is independent of VEGF. Both global and endothelial-specific deletion of PR block physiological vascular permeability in the uterus whereas misexpression of PR in the endothelium of other organs results in ectopic vascular leakage. Integration of an endothelial genome-wide transcriptional profile with ChIP-sequencing revealed that PR induces a NR4A1 (Nur77/TR3)-dependent transcriptional program that broadly regulates vascular permeability in response to progesterone. Silencing of NR4A1 blocks PR-mediated permeability responses indicating a direct link between PR and NR4A1. This program triggers concurrent suppression of several junctional proteins and leads to an effective, timely and venous-specific regulation of vascular barrier function that is critical to embryo implantation.
PMCID: PMC3985399  PMID: 24485460
2.  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
3.  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
4.  TLE3 is a dual function transcriptional coregulator of adipogenesis 
Cell metabolism  2011;13(4):413-427.
PPARγ and Wnt signaling are central positive and negative regulators of adipogenesis, respectively. Here we identify the groucho family member TLE3 as a transcriptional integrator of the PPARγ and Wnt pathways. TLE3 is a direct target of PPARγ that participates in a feed-forward loop during adipocyte differentiation. TLE3 enhances PPARγ activity and functions synergistically with PPARγ on its target promoters to stimulate adipogenesis. At the same time, induction of TLE3 during differentiation provides a mechanism for termination of Wnt signaling. TLE3 antagonizes TCF4 activation by β-catenin in preadipocytes, thereby inhibiting Wnt target gene expression and reversing β-catenin-dependent repression of adipocyte gene expression. Transgenic expression of TLE3 in adipose tissue in vivo mimics the effects of PPARγ agonist and ameliorates high fat diet-induced insulin resistance. Our data suggest that TLE3 acts as a dual function switch, driving the formation of both active and repressive transcriptional complexes that facilitate the adipogenic program.
PMCID: PMC3089971  PMID: 21459326
5.  Insulin Resistance and Altered Systemic Glucose Metabolism in Mice Lacking Nur77 
Diabetes  2009;58(12):2788-2796.
Nur77 is an orphan nuclear receptor with pleotropic functions. Previous studies have identified Nur77 as a transcriptional regulator of glucose utilization genes in skeletal muscle and gluconeogenesis in liver. However, the net functional impact of these pathways is unknown. To examine the consequence of Nur77 signaling for glucose metabolism in vivo, we challenged Nur77 null mice with high-fat feeding.
Wild-type and Nur77 null mice were fed a high-fat diet (60% calories from fat) for 3 months. We determined glucose tolerance, tissue-specific insulin sensitivity, oxygen consumption, muscle and liver lipid content, muscle insulin signaling, and expression of glucose and lipid metabolism genes.
Mice with genetic deletion of Nur77 exhibited increased susceptibility to diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. Hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp studies revealed greater high-fat diet–induced insulin resistance in both skeletal muscle and liver of Nur77 null mice compared with controls. Loss of Nur77 expression in skeletal muscle impaired insulin signaling and markedly reduced GLUT4 protein expression. Muscles lacking Nur77 also exhibited increased triglyceride content and accumulation of multiple even-chained acylcarnitine species. In the liver, Nur77 deletion led to hepatic steatosis and enhanced expression of lipogenic genes, likely reflecting the lipogenic effect of hyperinsulinemia.
Collectively, these data demonstrate that loss of Nur77 influences systemic glucose metabolism and highlight the physiological contribution of muscle Nur77 to this regulatory pathway.
PMCID: PMC2780886  PMID: 19741162
6.  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
7.  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
8.  Assembly of the Cleavage and Polyadenylation Apparatus Requires About 10 Seconds In Vivo and Is Faster for Strong than for Weak Poly(A) Sites 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(8):5588-5600.
We have devised a cis-antisense rescue assay of cleavage and polyadenylation to determine how long it takes the simian virus 40 (SV40) early poly(A) signal to commit itself to processing in vivo. An inverted copy of the poly(A) signal placed immediately downstream of the authentic one inhibited processing by means of sense-antisense duplex formation in the RNA. The antisense inhibition was gradually relieved when the inverted signal was moved increasing distances downstream, presumably because cleavage and polyadenylation occur before the polymerase reaches the antisense sequence. Antisense inhibition was unaffected when the inverted signal was moved upstream. Based on the known rate of transcription, we estimate that the cleavage-polyadenylation process takes between 10 and 20 s for the SV40 early poly(A) site to complete in vivo. Relief from inhibition occurred earlier for shorter antisense sequences than for longer ones. This indicates that a brief period of assembly is sufficient for the poly(A) signal to shield itself from a short (50- to 70-nucleotide) antisense sequence but that more assembly time is required for the signal to become immune to the longer ones (∼200 nucleotides). The simplest explanation for this target size effect is that the assembly process progressively sequesters more and more of the RNA surrounding the poly(A) signal up to a maximum of about 200 nucleotides, which we infer to be the domain of the mature apparatus. We compared strong and weak poly(A) sites. The SV40 late poly(A) site, one of the strongest, assembles several times faster than the weaker SV40 early or synthetic poly(A) site.
PMCID: PMC84411  PMID: 10409748
9.  Poly(A)-Driven and Poly(A)-Assisted Termination: Two Different Modes of Poly(A)-Dependent Transcription Termination 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(1):276-289.
We mapped the elements that mediate termination of transcription downstream of the chicken βH- and βA-globin gene poly(A) sites. We found no unique element and no segment of 3′-flanking DNA to be significantly more effective than any other. When we replaced the native 3′-flanking DNA with bacterial DNA, it too supported transcription termination. Termination in the bacterial DNA depended on a functional poly(A) signal, which apparently compelled termination to occur in the downstream DNA with little regard for its sequence. We also studied premature termination by poorly processive polymerases close to the promoter. The rate of premature termination varied for different DNA sequences. However, the efficiencies of poly(A)-driven termination and promoter-proximal premature termination varied similarly on different DNAs, suggesting that poly(A)-driven termination functions by returning the transcription complex to a form which resembles a prior state of low processivity. The poly(A)-driven termination described here differs dramatically from the poly(A)-assisted termination previously described for the simian virus 40 (SV40) early transcription unit. In the SV40 early transcription unit, essentially no termination occurs downstream of the poly(A) site unless a special termination element is present. The difference between the βH-globin and SV40 modes of termination is governed by sequences in the upstream DNA. For maximum efficiency, the βH-globin poly(A) signal required the assistance of upstream enhancing sequences. Moreover, the SV40 early poly(A) signal also drove termination in βH-globin style when it was placed in a βH-globin sequence context. These studies were facilitated by a rapid, improved method of run-on transcription analysis, based on the use of a vector containing two G-free cassettes.
PMCID: PMC121491  PMID: 9418875

Results 1-9 (9)