NFATc1 activity regulates the expression of myocilin induced by dexamethasone

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Abstract

Mutations in the myocilin gene (MYOC) account for 10% of juvenile open-angle glaucoma cases and 3–4% of adult onset primary open-angle glaucoma cases. It is a secreted glycoprotein found in many ocular and non-ocular tissues and has been linked to elevated intraocular pressure. In human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cells, MYOC expression can be induced by the glucocorticoid dexamethasone (DEX). In this study we examined the role of the calcineurin/NFATc1 (Nuclear Factor of Activated T-cells) pathway in the DEX induction of MYOC in HTM cells. In post-confluent HTM cells treated with either 500 nM DEX or 0.1% ethanol (EtOH; vehicle control) for 0–6 days both protein and mRNA levels of MYOC were increased while DEX was present. The protein and mRNA levels remained elevated for an additional 12 days after the removal of DEX. Only 1 day of DEX treatment was sufficient to trigger a sustained increase in MYOC mRNA that lasted for 4 days after the removal of DEX. Similar to other studies, myocilin protein expression was not seen until the second day of DEX treatment while mRNA increased within one day of DEX indicating that this is a secondary glucocorticoid response. To determine if MYOC gene expression was regulated by calcineurin/NFATc1, HTM cells were pre-treated for 1 h with the calcineurin inhibitors cyclosporin A or INCA-6 prior to the addition of DEX or EtOH for 2 days. NFATc1 siRNA was used to determine if NFATc1 was required for MYOC mRNA expression. Cells were also treated with the ionophone ionomycin to determine if increased cytosolic calcium affected MYOC expression. These studies showed that the DEX induced increase in MYOC mRNA could be inhibited with either cyclosporin A or INCA-6 or by transfection with NFATc1 siRNA and that ionomycin was unable to increase MYOC mRNA. Immunofluorescence microscopy was also performed to determine if DEX caused the nuclear translocation of NFATc1. Immunostaining showed that NFATc1 relocated to the nucleus within 15 min of DEX treatment and remained there for up to 2 h. The data suggest that the DEX-induced increase in MYOC expression activates a calcineurin and NFATc1 pathway in a calcium independent mechanism.

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