High NaCl activates the transcription factor nuclear factor of activated T cells 5 (NFAT5), leading to increased transcription of osmoprotective target genes. Kinases PKA, PI3K, AKT1, and p38α were known to contribute to the high NaCl-induced increase of NFAT5 activity. We now identify another kinase, GSK-3β. siRNA-mediated knock-down of GSK-3β increases NFAT5 transcriptional and transactivating activities without affecting high NaCl-induced nuclear localization of NFAT5 or NFAT5 protein expression. High NaCl increases phosphorylation of GSK-3β-S9, which inhibits GSK-3β. In GSK-3β-null mouse embryonic fibroblasts transfection of GSK-3β, in which serine 9 is mutated to alanine, so that it cannot be inhibited by phosphorylation at that site, inhibits high NaCl-induced NFAT5 transcriptional activity more than transfection of wild-type GSK-3β. High NaCl-induced phosphorylation of GSK-3β-S9 depends on PKA, PI3K, and AKT, but not p38α. Overexpression of PKA catalytic subunit a or of catalytically active AKT1 reduces inhibition of NFAT5 by GSK-3β, but overexpression of p38α together with its catalytically active upstream kinase, MKK6, does not. Thus, GSK-3β normally inhibits NFAT5 by suppressing its transactivating activity. When activated by high NaCl, PKA, PI3K, and AKT1, but not p38α, increase phosphorylation of GSK-3β-S9, which reduces the inhibitory effect of GSK-3β on NFAT5, and thus contributes to activation of NFAT5.
- Nuclear localization