Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine
Online ISSN : 1347-4715
Print ISSN : 1342-078X
ISSN-L : 1342-078X
Identification and analysis of differently expressed transcription factors in aristolochic acid nephropathy
Yi-Feng WuZhi-Yao TangYi-Xuan DengKun LiuXu-Rui GuGuang-Liang ZhouYu-Jie HuangXiao-Qing LinLin-Yun ZhouXiao-Cong Zuo
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2024 Volume 29 Pages 30


Background: Aristolochic acid nephropathy (AAN) is a rapidly progressive interstitial nephropathy caused by Aristolochic acid (AA). AAN is associated with the development of nephropathy and urothelial carcinoma. It is estimated that more than 100 million people worldwide are at risk of developing AAN. However, the underlying mechanisms driving renal deterioration in AAN remain poorly understood, and the treatment options are limited.

Methods: We obtained GSE27168 and GSE136276 series matrix data from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) related to AAN. Using the R Studio environment, we applied the limma package and WGCNA package to identify co-differently expressed genes (co-DEGs). By GO/KEGG/GSVA analysis, we revealed common biological pathways. Subsequently, co-DEGs were subjected to the String database to construct a protein-protein interaction (PPI) network. The MCC algorithms implemented in the Cytohubba plugin were employed to identify hub genes. The hub genes were cross-referenced with the transcription factor (TF) database to identify hub TFs. Immune infiltration analysis was performed to identify key immune cell groups by utilizing CIBERSORT. The expressions of AAN-associated hub TFs were verified in vivo and in vitro. Finally, siRNA intervention was performed on the two TFs to verify their regulatory effect in AAN.

Results: Our analysis identified 88 co-DEGs through the “limma” and “WGCNA” R packages. A PPI network comprising 53 nodes and 34 edges was constructed with a confidence level >0.4. ATF3 and c-JUN were identified as hub TFs potentially linked to AAN. Additionally, expressions of ATF3 and c-JUN positively correlated with monocytes, basophils, and vessels, and negatively correlated with eosinophils and endothelial cells. We observed a significant increase in protein and mRNA levels of these two hub TFs. Furthermore, it was found that siRNA intervention targeting ATF3, but not c-JUN, alleviated cell damage induced by AA. The knockdown of ATF3 protects against oxidative stress and inflammation in the AAN cell model.

Conclusion: This study provides novel insights into the role of ATF3 in AAN. The comprehensive analysis sheds light on the molecular mechanisms and identifies potential biomarkers and drug targets for AAN treatment.

AA can cause the abnormal increase of ATF3 expression in renal tubular epithelial cells, which promotes the enhancement of intracellular reactive oxygen species, inflammation-related factors and oxidative stress. Fullsize Image
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