Transcriptional regulation of stress kinase JNK2 in pro-arrhythmic CaMKIIδ expression in the aged atrium

Xianlong Gao, Xiaomin Wu, Jiajie Yan, Jingqun Zhang, Weiwei Zhao, Dominic Demarco, Yongguo Zhang, Mamdouh Bakhos, Gregory Mignery, Jun Sun, Zhenyu Li, Michael Fill, Xun Ai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Aims c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) is a critical stress response kinase that activates in a wide range of physiological and pathological cellular processes. We recently discovered a pivotal role of JNK in the development of atrial arrhythmias in the aged heart, while cardiac CaMKIIδ, another pro-arrhythmic molecule, was also known to enhance atrial arrhythmogenicity. Here, we aimed to reveal a regulatory role of the stress kinase JNK2 isoform on CaMKIIδ expression. Methods and results Activated JNK2 leads to increased CaMKIIδ protein expression in aged human and mouse atria, evidenced from the reversal of CaMKIIδ up-regulation in JNK2 inhibitor treated wild-type aged mice. This JNK2 action in CaMKIIδ expression was further confirmed in HL-1 myocytes co-infected with AdMKK7D-JNK2, but not when co-infected with AdMKK7D-JNK1. JNK2-specific inhibition (either by a JNK2 inhibitor or overexpression of inactivated dominant-negative JNK2 (JNK2dn) completely attenuated JNK activator anisomycin-induced CaMKIIδ up-regulation in HL-1 myocytes, whereas overexpression of JNK1dn did not. Moreover, up-regulated CaMKIIδ mRNA along with substantially increased phosphorylation of JNK downstream transcription factor c-jun [but not activating transcription factor2 (ATF2)] were exhibited in both aged atria (humans and mice) and transiently JNK activated HL-1 myocytes. Cross-linked chromatin-immunoprecipitation assays (XChIP) revealed that both c-jun and ATF2 were bound to the CaMKIIδ promoter, but significantly increased binding of c-jun only occurred in the presence of anisomycin and JNK inhibition alleviated this anisomycin-elevated c-jun binding. Mutated CaMKII consensus c-jun binding sites impaired its promoter activity. Enhanced transcriptional activity of CaMKIIδ by anisomycin was also completely reversed to the baseline by either JNK2 siRNA or c-jun siRNA knockdown. Conclusion JNK2 activation up-regulates CaMKIIδ expression in the aged atrium. This JNK2 regulation in CaMKIIδ expression occurs at the transcription level through the JNK downstream transcription factor c-jun. The discovery of this novel molecular mechanism of JNK2-regulated CaMKII expression sheds new light on possible anti-arrhythmia drug development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-746
Number of pages10
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Published on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved.


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Calcium/camodulin kinase II
  • c-Jun N-terminal kinase
  • c-Jun transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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