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Co-expression of POU4F2/Brn-3b with p53 may be important for controlling expression of pro-apoptotic genes in cardiomyocytes following ischaemic/hypoxic insults.

Cell death & disease (2014-10-31)
V Budhram-Mahadeo, R Fujita, S Bitsi, P Sicard, R Heads
ABSTRACT

Cardiomyocyte death following ischaemic/hypoxic injury causes irreversible damage to cardiac function and contributes to chronic diseases such as heart failure. Understanding the mechanisms associated with myocyte loss under these conditions can help to identify strategies to minimise/abrogate such detrimental effects. The p53 protein can induce apoptosis or cell cycle arrest, but effects on cell fate depend on interactions with other regulators such as POU4F2/Brn-3b (Brn-3b), which co-operates with p53 to increase the expression of pro-apoptotic genes. In contrast, the related POU4F1/Brn-3a (Brn-3a) blocks p53-mediated apoptosis but co-operates with p53 to enhance cell cycle arrest. In this study, we showed that permanent coronary artery ligation in mouse hearts, which induced apoptotic markers, activated caspase-3 and -8 and necroptosis markers; RIP-1 and -3 also increased Brn-3b and Brn-3a expression. However, Brn-3a was only detected in uninjured myocardium but not at the site of injury, whereas Brn-3b showed generalised increase, including within the infarct zone. Conversely, p53 was detected in the infarct zone and in some cells adjacent to the site of injury but not in uninjured myocardium. Co-localisation studies showed Brn-3a co-expression with p53 in cardiomyocytes adjacent to the infarct zone, whereas Brn-3b was co-localised with p53 in the infarct zone only. Increased Brn-3b and p53 correlated with elevated expression of pro-apoptotic target genes, Bax, Noxa and PUMA, whereas cleaved caspase-3 confirmed the presence of apoptotic cells within this region of the injured heart. Similarly, simulated ischaemia/reoxygenation (sI/R) injury in neonatal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes (NRVM) and heart derived H9c2 myoblasts increased Brn-3b, p53 as well as apoptotic genes, and this was associated with enhanced apoptosis. Furthermore, targeted reduction of Brn-3b using shRNA caused reduction in pro-apoptotic Bax and Noxa proteins, even though p53 expression remained intact, suggesting that Brn-3b is important for controlling the fate of the myocardium in the injured heart.

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