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    Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays an important role in the progression of renal tubulointerstitial fibrosis, a common mechanism leading to end-stage renal failure. V-ets erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homolog 2 (ETS2), a transcription factor, exhibits diverse roles in pathogenesis; however, its role in renal fibrosis is not yet fully understood. In this study, we detected the expression of ETS2 in an animal model of renal fibrosis and evaluated the potential role of ETS2 in tubular EMT induced by TGF-β1. We found that ETS2 and profibrogenic factors, alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and fibronectin (FN), were significantly increased in the unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO)-induced renal fibrosis model in mice. In vitro, TGF-β1 induced a high expression of ETS2 dependent on Smad3 and ERK signaling pathway in human proximal tubular epithelial cells (HK2). Knockdown of ETS2 abrogated TGF-β1-mediated expression of profibrogenic factors vimentin, α-SMA, collagen I, and FN in HK2 cells. Mechanistically, ETS2 promoted JUNB expression in HK2 cells after TGF-β1 stimulation. Furthermore, luciferase and Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays revealed that the binding of ETS2 to three EBS motifs on the promoter of JUNB triggered its transcription. Notably, silencing JUNB reversed the ETS2-induced upregulation of the profibrogenic factors in HK2 cells after TGF-β1 stimulation. These findings suggest that ETS2 mediates TGF-β1-induced EMT in renal tubular cells through JUNB, a novel pathway for preventing renal fibrosis.


    Fang Yao, Xiaojing Wang, Zhong-Kai Cui, Haibing Lan, Xiaolan Ai, Qiancheng Song, Zhenguo Chen, Jun Yang, Bingyi Wu, Xiaochun Bai. ETS2 promotes epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in renal fibrosis by targeting JUNB transcription. Laboratory investigation; a journal of technical methods and pathology. 2020 Mar;100(3):438-453

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    PMID: 31641227

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