Year of Publication

2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Medicine

Department

Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Catherine D. Mao

Abstract

Wnt proteins are crucial for development/homeostasis by controlling cell fate including apoptosis (Moon RT et al. 1997). Three humanWnt13 isoforms were identified: the secreted Wnt13A, mitochondrial Wnt13B, and nuclear Wnt13C forms; and nuclear Wnt13 had an increased sensitivity to LPS/TNF-induced apoptosis in primary endothelial cells (EC); both Wnt13B and C mRNA contain two start codons (AUG+1 and +74), but the same protein encoded from AUG+74 by Wnt13C was expressed lower than Wnt13B (Struewing IT et al.2006). We hypothesize that during EC apoptosis, the nuclear Wnt13C expression is regulated translationally; nuclear Wnt13 favors apoptosis through regulating the activity/expression of apoptosis-related factors; Wnt13 isoforms may have differential effects on EC apoptosis and apoptosis-related factors.

1. The protein levels, but not the mRNA levels of Wnt13C were induced by apoptosis-inducers. And the Myc-tag insertion at the AUG+1 in Wnt13C mRNA inhibited its expression, indicating the RNA sequences/structures are critical. Therefore, nuclear Wnt13C is regulated during apoptosis at translational levels.

2. Nuclear Wnt13 increased caspase-3/7 expression with/without LPS, followed by an increase in LPS-induced caspase-3/7 cleavage; and nuclear Wnt13 upregulated the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member Bim expression, suggesting that nuclear Wnt13 increased caspase activation through upregulating caspase and Bim expression. Wnt13 isoforms increased EC apoptosis with different strengths: nuclear > mitochondrial > secreted forms.

3. Both caspase-3 and Bim are FOXO target genes; and nuclear Wnt13 increased the nuclear localization of FOXOs, suggesting increased FOXO activity. Nuclear Wnt13 also upregulated SOD2, another FOXO target gene related to oxidative stress-resistance.

Nuclear Wnt13 did not increase FOXO activity at the SOD2 promoter, but increased the SOD2-intron 2 element luciferase activity upon LPS, where a novel putative FOXO site was found, implying intron 2 may be responsible for enhanced SOD2 transcription by nuclear Wnt13.

Altogether, our results pinpoint the interplay between the expression and functions of Wnt13 forms during EC apoptosis, forming a positive cycle further facilitating the apoptotic program completion, which is important for EC homeostasis.

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