The glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) family of serine/threonine kinases consists of 2 highly related isoforms, α and β. Although GSK-3β has an important role in cardiac development, much remains unknown about the function of either GSK-3 isoform in the postnatal heart. Herein, we present what we believe to be the first studies defining the role of GSK-3α in the mouse heart using gene targeting. Gsk3a–/– mice over 2 months of age developed progressive cardiomyocyte and cardiac hypertrophy and contractile dysfunction. Following thoracic aortic constriction in young mice, we observed enhanced hypertrophy that rapidly transitioned to ventricular dilatation and contractile dysfunction. Surprisingly, markedly impaired β-adrenergic responsiveness was found at both the organ and cellular level. This phenotype was reproduced by acute treatment of WT cardiomyocytes with a small molecule GSK-3 inhibitor, confirming that the response was not due to a chronic adaptation to LV dysfunction. Thus, GSK-3α appears to be the central regulator of a striking range of essential processes, including acute and direct positive regulation of β-adrenergic responsiveness. In the absence of GSK-3α, the heart cannot respond effectively to hemodynamic stress and rapidly fails. Our findings identify what we believe to be a new paradigm of regulation of β-adrenergic signaling and raise concerns given the rapid expansion of drug development targeting GSK-3.
Jibin Zhou, Hind Lal, Xiongwen Chen, Xiying Shang, Jianliang Song, Yingxin Li, Risto Kerkela, Bradley W. Doble, Katrina MacAulay, Morgan DeCaul, Walter J. Koch, John Farber, James Woodgett, Erhe Gao, Thomas Force