Retinoids induce Nur77-dependent apoptosis in mouse thymocytes

Beáta Kiss, Katalin Tóth, Zsolt Sarang, Éva Garabuczi, Zsuzsa Szondy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Nur77 is a transcription factor, which plays a determinant role in mediating T cell receptor-induced cell death of thymocytes. In addition to regulation of transcription, Nur77 contributes to apoptosis induction by targeting mitochondria, where it can convert Bcl-2, an anti-apoptotic protein into a proapoptotic molecule. Previous studies have demonstrated that retinoids are actively produced in the mouse thymus and can induce a transcription-dependent apoptosis in mouse thymocytes. Here we show that retinoic acids induce the expression of Nur77, and retinoid-induced apoptosis is completely dependent on Nur77, as retinoids were unable to induce apoptosis in Nur77 null thymocytes. In wild-type thymocytes retinoids induced enhanced expression of the apoptosis-related genes FasL, TRAIL, NDG-1, Gpr65 and Bid, all of them in a Nur77-dependent manner. The combined action of these proteins led to Caspase 8-dependent Bid cleavage in the mitochondria. In addition, we could demonstrate the Nur77-dependent induction of STAT1 leading to enhanced Bim expression, and the mitochondrial translocation of Nur77 leading to the exposure of the Bcl-2/BH3 domain. The retinoid-induced apoptosis was dependent on both Caspase 8 and STAT1. Our data together indicate that retinoids induce a Nur77-dependent cell death program in thymocytes activating the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-670
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Apoptosis
  • Nur77
  • Retinoid
  • Thymocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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