Activation of cells intrinsic to the vessel wall is central to the initiation and progression of vascular inflammation. As the dominant cellular constituent of the vessel wall, vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and their functions are critical determinants of vascular disease. While factors that regulate VSMC proliferation and migration have been identified, the endogenous regulators of VSMC proinflammatory activation remain incompletely defined. The Kruppel-like family of transcription factors (KLFs) are important regulators of inflammation. In this study, we identified Kruppel-like factor 15 (KLF15) as an essential regulator of VSMC proinflammatory activation. KLF15 levels were markedly reduced in human atherosclerotic tissues. Mice with systemic and smooth muscle–specific deficiency of KLF15 exhibited an aggressive inflammatory vasculopathy in two distinct models of vascular disease: orthotopic carotid artery transplantation and diet-induced atherosclerosis. We demonstrated that KLF15 alters the acetylation status and activity of the proinflammatory factor NF-κB through direct interaction with the histone acetyltransferase p300. These studies identify a previously unrecognized KLF15-dependent pathway that regulates VSMC proinflammatory activation.
Yuan Lu, Lisheng Zhang, Xudong Liao, Panjamaporn Sangwung, Domenick A. Prosdocimo, Guangjin Zhou, Alexander R. Votruba, Leigh Brian, Yuh Jung Han, Huiyun Gao, Yunmei Wang, Koichi Shimizu, Kaitlyn Weinert-Stein, Maria Khrestian, Daniel I. Simon, Neil J. Freedman, Mukesh K. Jain