Publication Date



Basic Research in Cardiology


Transcription factors play a fundamental role in cardiovascular adaptation to stress. Nuclear receptor subfamily 4 group A member 2 (NR4A2; NURR1) is an immediate-early gene and transcription factor with a versatile role throughout many organs. In the adult mammalian heart, and particularly in cardiac myocytes, NR4A2 is strongly up-regulated in response to beta-adrenergic stimulation. The physiologic implications of this increase remain unknown. In this study, we aimed to interrogate the consequences of cardiac NR4A2 up-regulation under normal conditions and in response to pressure overload. In mice, tamoxifen-dependent, cardiomyocyte-restricted overexpression of NR4A2 led to cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, left ventricular dilation, heart failure, and death within 40 days. Chronic NR4A2 induction also precipitated cardiac decompensation during transverse aortic constriction (TAC)-induced pressure overload. Mechanistically, NR4A2 caused adult cardiac myocytes to return to a fetal-like phenotype, with a switch to glycolytic metabolism and disassembly of sarcomeric structures. NR4A2 also re-activated cell cycle progression and stimulated DNA replication and karyokinesis but failed to induce cytokinesis, thereby promoting multinucleation of cardiac myocytes. Activation of cell cycle checkpoints led to induction of an apoptotic response which ultimately resulted in excessive loss of cardiac myocytes and impaired left ventricular contractile function. In summary, myocyte-specific overexpression of NR4A2 in the postnatal mammalian heart results in increased cell cycle re-entry and DNA replication but does not result in cardiac myocyte division. Our findings expose a novel function for the nuclear receptor as a critical regulator in the self-renewal of the cardiac myocyte and heart regeneration.


Animals, Aortic Valve Stenosis, Cardiomyopathy, Dilated, Heart Failure, Mammals, Mice, Myocytes, Cardiac, Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 4, Group A, Member 2, Ventricular Function, Left



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