Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Cell Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research article

Mechanism of nuclear factor of activated T-cells mediated FasL expression in corticosterone -treated mouse Leydig tumor cells

Wei-Ran Chai, Yong Chen, Qian Wang and Hui-Bao Gao*

  • * Corresponding author: Hui-Bao Gao

  • † Equal contributors

Author affiliations

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Shanghai JiaoTong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200025, PR China

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Cell Biology 2008, 9:31  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-9-31

Published: 12 June 2008



Fas and FasL is important mediators of apoptosis. We have previously reported that the stress levels of corticosterone (CORT, glucocorticoid in rat) increase expression of Fas/FasL and activate Fas/FasL signal pathway in rat Leydig cells, which consequently leads to apoptosis. Moreover, our another study showed that nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) may play a potential role in up-regulation of FasL during CORT-treated rat Leydig cell. It is not clear yet how NFAT is involved in CORT-induced up-regulation of FasL. The aim of the present study is to investigate the molecular mechanisms of NFAT-mediated FasL expression in CORT-treated Leydig cells.


Western blot analysis showed that NFAT2 expression is present in mouse Leydig tumor cell (mLTC-1). CORT-induced increase in FasL expression in mLTC-1 was ascertained by Western Blot analysis and CORT-induced increase in apoptotic frequency of mLTC-1 cells was detected by FACS with annexin-V labeling. Confocal imaging of NFAT2-GFP in mLTC-1 showed that high level of CORT stimulated NFAT translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. RNA interference-mediated knockdown of NFAT2 significantly attenuated CORT-induced up-regulation of FasL expression in mLTC. These results corroborated our previous finding that NFAT2 is involved in CORT-induced FasL expression in rat Leydig cells and showed that mLTC-1 is a suitable model for investigating the mechanism of CORT-induced FasL expression. The analysis of reporter constructs revealed that the sequence between -201 and +71 of mouse FasL gene is essential for CORT-induced FasL expression. The mutation analysis demonstrated that CORT-induced FasL expression is mediated via an NFAT binding element located in the -201 to +71 region. Co-transfection studies with an NFAT2 expression vector and reporter construct containing -201 to +71 region of FasL gene showed that NFAT2 confer a strong inducible activity to the FasL promoter at its regulatory region. In addition, chromatin immunoprecipitation assay further confirmed the results of reporter gene studies by showing the specific binding of NFAT2 to the -201 to +71 region.


In the present study, we demonstrated that NFAT2 directly stimulates transcription of FasL in high level CORT-treated mLTC-1. In conclusion, the present study provides further evidence for our finding that CORT-induced FasL expression in Leydig cells is mediated by NFAT.