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Cell Death Dis. 2012 Feb 2;3:265. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2012.5.

JNK modulates FOXO3a for the expression of the mitochondrial death and mitophagy marker BNIP3 in pathological hypertrophy and in heart failure.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.


Bcl-2 E1B 19-KDa interacting protein 3 (BNIP3) is a mitochondrial death and mitophagy marker, which is involved in inducing cardiac remodeling post myocardial infarction. In this study, we show that BNIP3 expression increases in stressed cardiomyocytes in vitro and in response to pressure overload in vivo, and that its transcription is directly related to JNK activity. BNIP3 expression gradually increased in the first weeks after pressure overload and peaked at the heart failure stage. Ultrastructurally, the mitochondrial area was inversely proportional to BNIP3 expression. Both JNK and AKT activities increased with pressure overload; however, JNK signaling dominated over AKT signaling for the activation of the transcription factor FOXO3a and for the transcription of its effector, BNIP3. 3-methyladenine attenuated JNK signaling and significantly decreased BNIP3 expression and reversed cardiac remodeling in heart failure. Ultrastructurally, the mitochondrial area was significantly increased in the 3-methyladenine group compared with placebo. Moreover, adenoviral gene delivery of dominant negative JNK in a rat model of pressure overload hypertrophy abolished the increase in BNIP3 expression in response to pressure overload. These results suggest that JNK signaling is a critical modulator of the transcription factor FOXO3a driving the expression of its effector, BNIP3, in heart failure and that JNK, through BNIP3, induces mitochondrial apoptosis and mitophagy.

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