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Cell Death Dis. 2013 Mar 21;4:e558. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2013.57.

Rac1 modulates acute and subacute genotoxin-induced hepatic stress responses, fibrosis and liver aging.

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Department of Toxicology, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.


To investigate the importance of the Ras-homologous GTPase Rac1 for the hepatic response to genotoxic insults and liver aging, rac1 was deleted in liver of mice by Mx1-Cre-based recombination. Knockout of rac1 caused complex changes in basal as well as doxorubicin and ionizing radiation-induced mRNA expression of various genotoxic stress response-related genes, including hspa1b, rad51, wrn and xpc. Rac1 deletion protected the liver from acute toxicity following doxorubicin treatment. Moreover, the level of S139 phosphorylated histone H2AX (γH2AX), which is indicative of DNA damage, and mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory (IL-6) and pro-fibrotic (CTGF, TGFβ, αSMA) factors were mitigated in rac1 knockout animals. By contrast, lack of rac1 promoted subacute hepatotoxicity, which was determined 3 weeks after injection of multiple low doses of doxorubicin by assaying the γH2AX level, mitotic index and pro-fibrotic gene expression. Regarding ionizing radiation, rac1 deficiency had no major effects on DNA damage induction or acute pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic stress responses. Mice lacking hepatic rac1 for extended period of time (15 months) revealed increased mRNA expression of fibrosis-related factors (CTGF, TGFβ, collagen, MMP1) and fibrotic tissue remodeling. In addition, protein expression of the senescence marker p16 was enhanced in the absence of rac1. Taken together, the data provide evidence that Rac1 is required for doxorubicin-induced DNA damage induction. It is also involved in both the acute and delayed inflammatory and fibrotic stress response in the liver following doxorubicin, but not ionizing radiation, treatment and, furthermore, protects against endogenous liver aging.

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