The transcription factor Fli-1 is implicated in the pathogenesis of both murine and human lupus. Increased levels of Fli-1 mRNA were present in the peripheral blood lymphocytes from lupus patients; furthermore, transgenic overexpression of Fli-1 in normal mice resulted in the development of a lupus-like disease. Lupus nephritis is a major cause of death in both lupus patients as well as in animal models. In this study, we generated Fli-1 heterozygous knockout (Fli-1(+/)⁻ ) NZM2410 mice (of which the wild-type is a widely used lupus murine model) that expressed decreased levels of Fli-1 and investigated the impact of Fli-1 expression on lupus nephritis development and survival. Ninety-three per cent of the Fli-1(+/)⁻ NZM2410 mice survived to the age of 52 weeks compared to only 35% of wild-type NZM2410 mice. Autoantibodies, including anti-dsDNA and anti-glomerular basement antigen, in Fli-1(+/)⁻ NZM2410 mice were statistically significantly lower when compared to wild-type NZM2410 mice at the ages of 30 and 34 weeks. Total B cell and activated B cell populations in the spleens from Fli-1(+/)⁻ NZM2410 mice were decreased significantly compared to wild-type NZM2410 mice. Fli-1(+/)⁻ NZM2410 mice also had remarkably diminished proteinuria and decreased renal pathological scores when compared with wild-type NZM2410 mice. Expression of early growth response 1 (Egr-1) was decreased significantly in the kidneys from Fli-1(+/)⁻ NZM2410 mice when compared to wild-type littermates. Our data indicate that expression of Fli-1 plays an important role in lupus disease development in NZM2410 mice.
© 2010 British Society for Immunology.