Heart, Genetically modified animals, Mouse models, Muscle cells, Apoptosis, Surgical and invasive medical procedures, Transcription factors, Cardiac hypertrophy


Animal Experimentation and Research | Genetics


Nemo-like kinase (NLK) is an evolutionary conserved serine/threonine protein kinase implicated in development, proliferation and apoptosis regulation. Here we identified NLK as a gene product induced in the hearts of mice subjected to pressure overload or myocardial infarction injury, suggesting a potential regulatory role with pathological stimulation to this organ. To examine the potential functional consequences of increased NLK levels, cardiac-specific transgenic mice with inducible expression of this gene product were generated, as well as cardiac-specific Nlk gene-deleted mice. NLK transgenic mice demonstrated baseline cardiac hypertrophy, dilation, interstitial fibrosis, apoptosis and progression towards heart failure in response to two surgery-induced cardiac disease models. In contrast, cardiac-specific deletion of Nlk from the heart, achieved by crossing a Nlk-loxP allele containing mouse with either a mouse containing a β-myosin heavy chain promoter driven Cre transgene or a tamoxifen inducible α-myosin heavy chain promoter containing transgene driving a MerCreMer cDNA, protected the mice from cardiac dysfunction following pathological stimuli. Mechanistically, NLK interacted with multiple proteins including the transcription factor Stat1, which was significantly increased in the hearts of NLK transgenic mice. These results indicate that NLK is a pathological effector in the heart.

Original Citation

Liu, R., Khalil, H., Lin, S.-C. J., Sargent, M. A., York, A. J., & Molkentin, J. D. (2016). Nemo-Like Kinase (NLK) Is a Pathological Signaling Effector in the Mouse Heart. PLoS ONE, 11(10), 1–14.