BioMed Central, BMC Genomics, 1(17)
Abstract Background The nuclear orphan receptor Nur77 (NR4A1, TR3, or NGFI-B) has been shown to modulate the inflammatory response of macrophages. To further elucidate the role of Nur77 in macrophage physiology, we compared the transcriptome of bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMM) from wild-type (WT) and Nur77-knockout (KO) mice. Results In line with previous observations, SDF-1α (CXCL12) was among the most upregulated genes in Nur77-deficient BMM and we demonstrated that Nur77 binds directly to the SDF-1α promoter, resulting in inhibition of SDF-1α expression. The cytokine receptor CX3CR1 was strongly downregulated in Nur77-KO BMM, implying involvement of Nur77 in macrophage tolerance. Ingenuity pathway analyses (IPA) to identify canonical pathways regulation and gene set enrichment analyses (GSEA) revealed a potential role for Nur77 in extracellular matrix homeostasis. Nur77-deficiency increased the collagen content of macrophage extracellular matrix through enhanced expression of several collagen subtypes and diminished matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 activity. IPA upstream regulator analyses discerned the small GTPase Rac1 as a novel regulator of Nur77-mediated gene expression. We identified an inhibitory feedback loop with increased Rac1 activity in Nur77-KO BMM, which may explain the augmented phagocytic activity of these cells. Finally, we predict multiple chronic inflammatory diseases to be influenced by macrophage Nur77 expression. GSEA and IPA associated Nur77 to osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and allergic airway inflammatory diseases. Conclusions Altogether these data identify Nur77 as a modulator of macrophage function and an interesting target to treat chronic inflammatory disease.