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Title: Synergistic transcriptional regulation of collagenase gene expression in chondrocytes
Author: Macdonald, Christopher David
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2013
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The proteolytic degradation of articular cartilage in load-bearing joints is a key pathological step in the progression of arthritis, a process mediated by enzymes called collagenases (specifically MMP-1 and MMP-13). My research has focused on the transcriptional regulation of these enzymes in cartilage cells (chondrocytes) in response to a pro-catabolic stimulus which mimics the complex milieu of elevated cytokines found within the arthritic joint. Activating Protein (AP)-1 transcription factors, specifically the c-Fos/c-Jun heterodimer, have previously been shown to be crucial in collagenase gene regulation. c-Fos/c-Jun gene expression, protein production and collagenase promoter enrichment studies identified a temporal deficit between transient c-Fos/c-Jun peak following 1 hour stimulation and the initiation of collagenase gene transcription following 6 hours stimulation. Protein synthesis inhibitor studies indicated that although c-Fos/c-Jun are indeed important, they are not the sole regulators of collagenase gene expression. DNA microarray studies highlighted a number of genes that contributed to transcriptional regulation early within this temporal deficit. Collagenase gene expression was assessed following the siRNA-mediated silencing of these factors. This confirmed that new factors, not previously associated with collagenase gene regulation, were demonstrated to have a significant role in initiating their transcription. This included factors such as activating transcription factor (ATF)3 and early growth response (EGR)2 which demonstrated differential regulation of the collagenase genes, with their silencing affecting MMP13 expression alone. Having identified a number of contributing factors, I then assessed their temporal gene expression and protein production. Comparisons to c-Fos/c-Jun induction confirmed that a number of these factors were transient, similar to AP-1, yet they peaked following longer durations of stimulation. Subsequent siRNA gene silencing of c-Fos and c-Jun led to decreased expression of some of these factors. This demonstrated that these factors may be regulating collagenase expression indirectly by controlling the expression of other transcription factors that, themselves contribute to the regulation of collagenase gene. The present study improves our understanding of how collagenases are regulated in chondrocytes in response to pro-catabolic stimuli. With an improved knowledge of regulation it may be possible to specifically abrogate aberrant collagenases expression in disease. Moreover, by exploiting the differential regulation of collagenases exhibited by some of these factors, there is the potential to mitigate the side effects associated with broad-spectrum collagenase inhibition, thereby removing the barrier to successful treatment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Oliver Bird Rheumatism Programme ; Nuffield Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available