Fibroblasts are a dynamic cell type that achieve selective differentiated states to mediate acute wound healing and long-term tissue remodeling with scarring. With myocardial infarction injury, cardiomyocytes are replaced by secreted extracellular matrix proteins produced by proliferating and differentiating fibroblasts. Here, we employed 3 different mouse lineage-tracing models and stage-specific gene profiling to phenotypically analyze and classify resident cardiac fibroblast dynamics during myocardial infarction injury and stable scar formation. Fibroblasts were activated and highly proliferative, reaching a maximum rate within 2 to 4 days after infarction injury, at which point they expanded 3.5-fold and were maintained long term. By 3 to 7 days, these cells differentiated into myofibroblasts that secreted abundant extracellular matrix proteins and expressed smooth muscle α-actin to structurally support the necrotic area. By 7 to 10 days, myofibroblasts lost proliferative ability and smooth muscle α-actin expression as the collagen-containing extracellular matrix and scar fully matured. However, these same lineage-traced initial fibroblasts persisted within the scar, achieving a new molecular and stable differentiated state referred to as a matrifibrocyte, which was also observed in the scars of human hearts. These cells express common and unique extracellular matrix and tendon genes that are more specialized to support the mature scar.
Xing Fu, Hadi Khalil, Onur Kanisicak, Justin G. Boyer, Ronald J. Vagnozzi, Bryan D. Maliken, Michelle A. Sargent, Vikram Prasad, Iñigo Valiente-Alandi, Burns C. Blaxall, Jeffery D. Molkentin
SCN5A encodes the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.5 that is responsible for depolarization of the cardiac action potential and rapid intercellular conduction. Mutations disrupting the SCN5A coding sequence cause inherited arrhythmias and cardiomyopathy, and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) linked to SCN5A splicing, localization, and function associate with heart failure–related sudden cardiac death. However, the clinical relevance of SNPs that modulate SCN5A expression levels remains understudied. We recently generated a transcriptome-wide map of microRNA (miR) binding sites in human heart, evaluated their overlap with common SNPs, and identified a synonymous SNP (rs1805126) adjacent to a miR-24 site within the SCN5A coding sequence. This SNP was previously shown to reproducibly associate with cardiac electrophysiological parameters, but was not considered to be causal. Here, we show that miR-24 potently suppresses SCN5A expression and that rs1805126 modulates this regulation. We found that the rs1805126 minor allele associates with decreased cardiac SCN5A expression and that heart failure subjects homozygous for the minor allele have decreased ejection fraction and increased mortality, but not increased ventricular tachyarrhythmias. In mice, we identified a potential basis for this in discovering that decreased Scn5a expression leads to accumulation of myocardial reactive oxygen species. Together, these data reiterate the importance of considering the mechanistic significance of synonymous SNPs as they relate to miRs and disease, and highlight a surprising link between SCN5A expression and nonarrhythmic death in heart failure.
Xiaoming Zhang, Jin-Young Yoon, Michael Morley, Jared M. McLendon, Kranti A. Mapuskar, Rebecca Gutmann, Haider Mehdi, Heather L. Bloom, Samuel C. Dudley, Patrick T. Ellinor, Alaa A. Shalaby, Raul Weiss, W.H. Wilson Tang, Christine S. Moravec, Madhurmeet Singh, Anne L. Taylor, Clyde W. Yancy, Arthur M. Feldman, Dennis M. McNamara, Kaikobad Irani, Douglas R. Spitz, Patrick Breheny, Kenneth B. Margulies, Barry London, Ryan L. Boudreau
Congenital long QT syndrome (LQTS) is an inherited channelopathy associated with life-threatening arrhythmias. LQTS type 2 (LQT2) is caused by mutations in KCNH2, which encodes the potassium channel hERG. We hypothesized that modifier genes are partly responsible for the variable phenotype severity observed in some LQT2 families. Here, we identified contributors to variable expressivity in an LQT2 family by using induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) and whole exome sequencing in a synergistic manner. We found that iPSC-CMs recapitulated the clinical genotype-phenotype discordance in vitro. Importantly, iPSC-CMs derived from the severely affected LQT2 patients displayed prolonged action potentials compared with cells from mildly affected first-degree relatives. The iPSC-CMs derived from all patients with hERG R752W mutation displayed lower IKr amplitude. Interestingly, iPSC-CMs from severely affected mutation-positive individuals exhibited greater L-type Ca2+ current. Whole exome sequencing identified variants of KCNK17 and the GTP-binding protein REM2, providing biologically plausible explanations for this variable expressivity. Genome editing to correct a REM2 variant reversed the enhanced L-type Ca2+ current and prolonged action potential observed in iPSC-CMs from severely affected individuals. Thus, our findings showcase the power of combining complementary physiological and genomic analyses to identify genetic modifiers and potential therapeutic targets of a monogenic disorder. Furthermore, we propose that this strategy can be deployed to unravel myriad confounding pathologies displaying variable expressivity.
Sam Chai, Xiaoping Wan, Angelina Ramirez-Navarro, Paul J. Tesar, Elizabeth S. Kaufman, Eckhard Ficker, Alfred L. George Jr., Isabelle Deschênes
Isolated left ventricular noncompaction (LVNC) results from excessive trabeculation and impaired myocardial compaction during heart development. The extracellular matrix (ECM) that separates endocardium from myocardium plays a critical but poorly understood role in ventricular trabeculation and compaction. In an attempt to characterize solute carrier family 39 member 8–null (Slc39a8-null) mice, we discovered that homozygous null embryos do not survive embryogenesis, and exhibit a cardiac phenotype similar to human LVNC. Slc39a8 encodes a divalent metal cation importer that has been implicated in ECM degradation through the zinc/metal regulatory transcription factor 1 (Zn/MTF1) axis, which promotes the expression of ECM-degrading enzymes, including Adamts metalloproteinases. Here, we have shown that Slc39a8 is expressed by endothelial cells in the developing mouse heart, where it serves to maintain cellular Zn levels. Furthermore, Slc39a8-null hearts exhibited marked ECM accumulation and reduction of several Adamts metalloproteinases. Consistent with the in vivo observations, knockdown of SLC39A8 in HUVECs decreased ADAMTS1 transcription by decreasing cellular Zn uptake, and as a result, MTF1 transcriptional activity. Our study thus identifies a gene underlying ventricular trabeculation and compaction development, and a pathway regulating ECM during myocardial morphogenesis.
Wen Lin, Deqiang Li, Lan Cheng, Li Li, Feiyan Liu, Nicholas J. Hand, Jonathan A. Epstein, Daniel J. Rader
Induction of the cell cycle is emerging as an intervention to treat heart failure. Here, we tested the hypothesis that enhanced cardiomyocyte renewal in transgenic mice expressing cyclin D2 would be beneficial during hemodynamic overload. We induced pressure overload by transthoracic aortic constriction (TAC) or volume overload by aortocaval shunt in cyclin D2–expressing and WT mice. Although cyclin D2 expression dramatically improved survival following TAC, it did not confer a survival advantage to mice following aortocaval shunt. Cardiac function decreased following TAC in WT mice, but was preserved in cyclin D2–expressing mice. On the other hand, cardiac structure and function were compromised in response to aortocaval shunt in both WT and cyclin D2–expressing mice. The preserved function and improved survival in cyclin D2–expressing mice after TAC was associated with an approximately 50% increase in cardiomyocyte number and exaggerated cardiac hypertrophy, as indicated by increased septum thickness. Aortocaval shunt did not further impact cardiomyocyte number in mice expressing cyclin D2. Following TAC, cyclin D2 expression attenuated cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, reduced cardiomyocyte apoptosis, fibrosis, calcium/calmodulin–dependent protein kinase IIδ phosphorylation, brain natriuretic peptide expression, and sustained capillarization. Thus, we show that cyclin D2–induced cardiomyocyte renewal reduced myocardial remodeling and dysfunction after pressure overload but not after volume overload.
Karl Toischer, Wuqiang Zhu, Mark Hünlich, Belal A. Mohamed, Sara Khadjeh, Sean P. Reuter, Katrin Schäfer, Deepak Ramanujam, Stefan Engelhardt, Loren J. Field, Gerd Hasenfuss
Unbiased, “nontargeted” metabolite profiling techniques hold considerable promise for biomarker and pathway discovery, in spite of the lack of successful applications to human disease. By integrating nontargeted metabolomics, genetics, and detailed human phenotyping, we identified dimethylguanidino valeric acid (DMGV) as an independent biomarker of CT-defined nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in the offspring cohort of the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) participants. We verified the relationship between DMGV and early hepatic pathology. Specifically, plasma DMGV levels were correlated with biopsy-proven nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in a hospital cohort of individuals undergoing gastric bypass surgery, and DMGV levels fell in parallel with improvements in post-procedure cardiometabolic parameters. Further, baseline DMGV levels independently predicted future diabetes up to 12 years before disease onset in 3 distinct human cohorts. Finally, we provide all metabolite peak data consisting of known and unidentified peaks, genetics, and key metabolic parameters as a publicly available resource for investigations in cardiometabolic diseases.
John F. O’Sullivan, Jordan E. Morningstar, Qiong Yang, Baohui Zheng, Yan Gao, Sarah Jeanfavre, Justin Scott, Celine Fernandez, Hui Zheng, Sean O’Connor, Paul Cohen, Ramachandran S. Vasan, Michelle T. Long, James G. Wilson, Olle Melander, Thomas J. Wang, Caroline Fox, Randall T. Peterson, Clary B. Clish, Kathleen E. Corey, Robert E. Gerszten
Atherosclerosis is the underlying etiology of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. Atherosclerosis is a heterogeneous disease in which only a small fraction of lesions lead to heart attack, stroke, or sudden cardiac death. A distinct type of plaque containing large necrotic cores with thin fibrous caps often precipitates these acute events. Here, we show that Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase γ (CaMKIIγ) in macrophages plays a major role in the development of necrotic, thin-capped plaques. Macrophages in necrotic and symptomatic atherosclerotic plaques in humans as well as advanced atherosclerotic lesions in mice demonstrated activation of CaMKII. Western diet–fed LDL receptor–deficient (Ldlr–/–) mice with myeloid-specific deletion of CaMKII had smaller necrotic cores with concomitantly thicker collagen caps. These lesions demonstrated evidence of enhanced efferocytosis, which was associated with increased expression of the macrophage efferocytosis receptor MerTK. Mechanistic studies revealed that CaMKIIγ-deficient macrophages and atherosclerotic lesions lacking myeloid CaMKIIγ had increased expression of the transcription factor ATF6. We determined that ATF6 induces liver X receptor-α (LXRα), an Mertk-inducing transcription factor, and that increased MerTK expression and efferocytosis in CaMKIIγ-deficient macrophages is dependent on LXRα. These findings identify a macrophage CaMKIIγ/ATF6/LXRα/MerTK pathway as a key factor in the development of necrotic atherosclerotic plaques.
Amanda C. Doran, Lale Ozcan, Bishuang Cai, Ze Zheng, Gabrielle Fredman, Christina C. Rymond, Bernhard Dorweiler, Judith C. Sluimer, Joanne Hsieh, George Kuriakose, Alan R. Tall, Ira Tabas
The master cytokine TGF-β mediates tissue fibrosis associated with inflammation and tissue injury. TGF-β induces fibroblast activation and differentiation into myofibroblasts that secrete extracellular matrix proteins. Canonical TGF-β signaling mobilizes Smad2 and Smad3 transcription factors that control fibrosis by promoting gene expression. However, the importance of TGF-β–Smad2/3 signaling in fibroblast-mediated cardiac fibrosis has not been directly evaluated in vivo. Here, we examined pressure overload–induced cardiac fibrosis in fibroblast- and myofibroblast-specific inducible Cre-expressing mouse lines with selective deletion of the TGF-β receptors Tgfbr1/2, Smad2, or Smad3. Fibroblast-specific deletion of Tgfbr1/2 or Smad3, but not Smad2, markedly reduced the pressure overload–induced fibrotic response as well as fibrosis mediated by a heart-specific, latency-resistant TGF-β mutant transgene. Interestingly, cardiac fibroblast–specific deletion of Tgfbr1/2, but not Smad2/3, attenuated the cardiac hypertrophic response to pressure overload stimulation. Mechanistically, loss of Smad2/3 from tissue-resident fibroblasts attenuated injury-induced cellular expansion within the heart and the expression of fibrosis-mediating genes. Deletion of Smad2/3 or Tgfbr1/2 from cardiac fibroblasts similarly inhibited the gene program for fibrosis and extracellular matrix remodeling, although deletion of Tgfbr1/2 uniquely altered expression of an array of regulatory genes involved in cardiomyocyte homeostasis and disease compensation. These findings implicate TGF-β–Smad2/3 signaling in activated tissue-resident cardiac fibroblasts as principal mediators of the fibrotic response.
Hadi Khalil, Onur Kanisicak, Vikram Prasad, Robert N. Correll, Xing Fu, Tobias Schips, Ronald J. Vagnozzi, Ruijie Liu, Thanh Huynh, Se-Jin Lee, Jason Karch, Jeffery D. Molkentin
Defective protein quality control (PQC) systems are implicated in multiple diseases. Molecular chaperones and co-chaperones play a central role in functioning PQC. Constant mechanical and metabolic stress in cardiomyocytes places great demand on the PQC system. Mutation and downregulation of the co-chaperone protein BCL-2–associated athanogene 3 (BAG3) are associated with cardiac myopathy and heart failure, and a BAG3 E455K mutation leads to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). However, the role of BAG3 in the heart and the mechanisms by which the E455K mutation leads to DCM remain obscure. Here, we found that cardiac-specific Bag3-KO and E455K-knockin mice developed DCM. Comparable phenotypes in the 2 mutants demonstrated that the E455K mutation resulted in loss of function. Further experiments revealed that the E455K mutation disrupted the interaction between BAG3 and HSP70. In both mutants, decreased levels of small heat shock proteins (sHSPs) were observed, and a subset of proteins required for cardiomyocyte function was enriched in the insoluble fraction. Together, these observations suggest that interaction between BAG3 and HSP70 is essential for BAG3 to stabilize sHSPs and maintain cardiomyocyte protein homeostasis. Our results provide insight into heart failure caused by defects in BAG3 pathways and suggest that increasing BAG3 protein levels may be of therapeutic benefit in heart failure.
Xi Fang, Julius Bogomolovas, Tongbin Wu, Wei Zhang, Canzhao Liu, Jennifer Veevers, Matthew J. Stroud, Zhiyuan Zhang, Xiaolong Ma, Yongxin Mu, Dieu-Hung Lao, Nancy D. Dalton, Yusu Gu, Celine Wang, Michael Wang, Yan Liang, Stephan Lange, Kunfu Ouyang, Kirk L. Peterson, Sylvia M. Evans, Ju Chen
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease, and developing therapies to promote its regression is an important clinical goal. We previously established that atherosclerosis regression is characterized by an overall decrease in plaque macrophages and enrichment in markers of alternatively activated M2 macrophages. We have now investigated the origin and functional requirement for M2 macrophages in regression in normolipidemic mice that received transplants of atherosclerotic aortic segments. We compared plaque regression in WT normolipidemic recipients and those deficient in chemokine receptors necessary to recruit inflammatory Ly6Chi (Ccr2–/– or Cx3cr1–/–) or patrolling Ly6Clo (Ccr5–/–) monocytes. Atherosclerotic plaques transplanted into WT or Ccr5–/– recipients showed reduced macrophage content and increased M2 markers consistent with plaque regression, whereas plaques transplanted into Ccr2–/– or Cx3cr1–/– recipients lacked this regression signature. The requirement of recipient Ly6Chi monocyte recruitment was confirmed in cell trafficking studies. Fate-mapping and single-cell RNA sequencing studies also showed that M2-like macrophages were derived from newly recruited monocytes. Furthermore, we used recipient mice deficient in STAT6 to demonstrate a requirement for this critical component of M2 polarization in atherosclerosis regression. Collectively, these results suggest that continued recruitment of Ly6Chi inflammatory monocytes and their STAT6-dependent polarization to the M2 state are required for resolution of atherosclerotic inflammation and plaque regression.
Karishma Rahman, Yuliya Vengrenyuk, Stephen A. Ramsey, Noemi Rotllan Vila, Natasha M. Girgis, Jianhua Liu, Viktoria Gusarova, Jesper Gromada, Ada Weinstock, Kathryn J. Moore, P’ng Loke, Edward A. Fisher