Ectopic calcification is a frequent complication of many degenerative diseases. Here we identify the serum protein α2–Heremans-Schmid glycoprotein (Ahsg, also known as fetuin-A) as an important inhibitor of ectopic calcification acting on the systemic level. Ahsg-deficient mice are phenotypically normal, but develop severe calcification of various organs on a mineral and vitamin D–rich diet and on a normal diet when the deficiency is combined with a DBA/2 genetic background. This phenotype is not associated with apparent changes in calcium and phosphate homeostasis, but with a decreased inhibitory activity of the Ahsg-deficient extracellular fluid on mineral formation. The same underlying principle may contribute to many calcifying disorders including calciphylaxis, a syndrome of severe systemic calcification in patients with chronic renal failure. Taken together, our data demonstrate a critical role of Ahsg as an inhibitor of unwanted mineralization and provide a novel therapeutic concept to prevent ectopic calcification accompanying various diseases.
Cora Schäfer, Alexander Heiss, Anke Schwarz, Ralf Westenfeld, Markus Ketteler, Jürgen Floege, Werner Müller-Esterl, Thorsten Schinke, Willi Jahnen-Dechent
Hepatic lipase (HL) has a well-established role in lipoprotein metabolism. However, its role in atherosclerosis is poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that HL deficiency raises the proatherogenic apoB-containing lipoprotein levels in plasma but reduces atherosclerosis in lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) transgenic (Tg) mice, similar to results previously observed with HL-deficient apoE-KO mice. These findings suggest that HL has functions that modify atherogenic risk that are separate from its role in lipoprotein metabolism. We used bone marrow transplantation (BMT) to generate apoE-KO and apoE-KO × HL-KO mice, as well as LCAT-Tg and LCAT-Tg × HL-KO mice, chimeric for macrophage HL gene expression. Using in situ RNA hybridization, we demonstrated localized production of HL by donor macrophages in the artery wall. We found that expression of HL by macrophages enhances early aortic lesion formation in both apoE-KO and LCAT-Tg mice, without changing the plasma lipid profile, lipoprotein lipid composition, or HL and lipoprotein lipase activities. HL does, however, enhance oxidized LDL uptake by peritoneal macrophages. These combined data demonstrate that macrophage-derived HL significantly contributes to early aortic lesion formation in two independent mouse models and identify a novel mechanism, separable from the role of HL in plasma lipoprotein metabolism, by which HL modulates atherogenic risk in vivo.
Zengxuan Nong, Herminia González-Navarro, Marcelo Amar, Lita Freeman, Catherine Knapper, Edward B. Neufeld, Beverly J. Paigen, Robert F. Hoyt, Jamila Fruchart-Najib, Silvia Santamarina-Fojo
The ECM protein Del-1 is one of several novel ECM proteins that accumulate around angiogenic blood vessels in embryonic and tumor tissue and promote angiogenesis in the absence of exogenous growth factors. Del-1 expressed in mouse or rabbit ischemic hind-limb muscle by gene transfer rapidly promotes new blood vessel formation and restores muscle function. This angiogenic ECM protein initiates angiogenesis by binding to integrin αvβ5 on resting endothelium, thereby resulting in expression of the transcription factor Hox D3 and integrin αvβ3. Hox D3 converts resting endothelium to angiogenic endothelium by inducing expression of proangiogenic molecules such as integrin αvβ3. These findings provide evidence for an angiogenic switch that can be initiated in the absence of exogenous growth factors and indicate that the angiogenic matrix protein Del-1 may be a useful tool for the therapy of ischemic disease.
Jingping Zhong, Brian Eliceiri, Dwayne Stupack, Kalyani Penta, Gordon Sakamoto, Thomas Quertermous, Mike Coleman, Nancy Boudreau, Judith A. Varner
Previously we showed that neuropeptide Y (NPY), a sympathetic vasoconstrictor neurotransmitter, stimulates endothelial cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation in vitro. Here, we report on NPY’s actions, receptors, and mediators in ischemic angiogenesis. In rats, hindlimb ischemia stimulates sympathetic NPY release (attenuated by lumbar sympathectomy) and upregulates NPY-Y2 (Y2) receptor and a peptidase forming Y2/Y5-selective agonist. Exogenous NPY at physiological concentrations also induces Y5 receptor, stimulates neovascularization, and restores ischemic muscle blood flow and performance. NPY-mediated ischemic angiogenesis is not prevented by a selective Y1 receptor antagonist but is reduced in Y2–/– mice. Nonischemic muscle vascularity is also lower in Y2–/– mice, whereas it is increased in NPY-overexpressing rats compared with their WT controls. Ex vivo, NPY-induced aortic sprouting is markedly reduced in Y2–/– aortas and spontaneous sprouting is severely impaired in NPY–/– mice. NPY-mediated aortic sprouting, but not cell migration/proliferation, is blocked by an antifetal liver kinase 1 antibody and abolished in mice null for eNOS. Thus, NPY mediates neurogenic ischemic angiogenesis at physiological concentrations by activating Y2/Y5 receptors and eNOS, in part due to release of VEGF. NPY’s effectiveness in revascularization and restoring function of ischemic tissue suggests its therapeutic potential in ischemic conditions.
Edward W. Lee, Mieczyslaw Michalkiewicz, Joanna Kitlinska, Ivana Kalezic, Hanna Switalska, Peter Yoo, Amarin Sangkharat, Hong Ji, Lijun Li, Teresa Michalkiewicz, Milos Ljubisavljevic, Hakan Johansson, Derrick S. Grant, Zofia Zukowska
TNF-α activates ASK1 in part by dissociating 14-3-3 from apoptosis signal–regulating kinase 1 (ASK1). In the present study, we identified a novel Ras GTPase-activating protein (Ras-GAP) as an ASK1-interacting protein (AIP1). AIP1 binds to the C-terminal domain of ASK1 via a lysine-rich cluster within the N-terminal C2 domain. AIP1 exists in a closed form through an intramolecular interaction between the N-terminus and the C-terminus, and TNF-α induces unfolding of AIP1 leading to association of AIP1 with ASK1. Thus, the N-terminus of AIP1 containing the C2 and GAP domains constitutively binds to ASK1 and facilitates the release of 14-3-3 from ASK1. In contrast to 14-3-3, AIP1 binds preferentially to dephosphorylated ASK1. Recruited AIP1 enhances ASK1-induced JNK activation, and the ASK1 binding and the GAP activity of AIP1 are critical for AIP1-enhanced ASK1 activation. Furthermore, TNF-induced ASK1/JNK activation is significantly blunted in cells where AIP1 is knocked down by RNA interference. These data suggest that AIP1 mediates TNF-α–induced ASK1 activation by facilitating dissociation of inhibitor 14-3-3 from ASK1, a novel mechanism by which TNF-α activates ASK1.
Rong Zhang, Xiangrong He, Weimin Liu, Meng Lu, Jer-Tsong Hsieh, Wang Min
Catecholamines and α1-adrenergic receptors (α1-ARs) cause cardiac hypertrophy in cultured myocytes and transgenic mice, but heart size is normal in single KOs of the main α1-AR subtypes, α1A/C and α1B. Here we tested whether α1-ARs are required for developmental cardiac hypertrophy by generating α1A/C and α1B double KO (ABKO) mice, which had no cardiac α1-AR binding. In male ABKO mice, heart growth after weaning was 40% less than in WT, and the smaller heart was due to smaller myocytes. Body and other organ weights were unchanged, indicating a specific effect on the heart. Blood pressure in ABKO mice was the same as in WT, showing that the smaller heart was not due to decreased load. Contractile function was normal by echocardiography in awake mice, but the smaller heart and a slower heart rate reduced cardiac output. α1-AR stimulation did not activate extracellular signal–regulated kinase (Erk) and downstream kinases in ABKO myocytes, and basal Erk activity was lower in the intact ABKO heart. In female ABKO mice, heart size was normal, even after ovariectomy. Male ABKO mice had reduced exercise capacity and increased mortality with pressure overload. Thus, α1-ARs in male mice are required for the physiological hypertrophy of normal postnatal cardiac development and for an adaptive response to cardiac stress.
Timothy D. O’Connell, Shinji Ishizaka, Akihiro Nakamura, Philip M. Swigart, M.C. Rodrigo, Gregory L. Simpson, Susanna Cotecchia, D. Gregg Rokosh, William Grossman, Elyse Foster, Paul C. Simpson
Activation of mammalian sterile 20–like kinase 1 (Mst1) by genotoxic compounds is known to stimulate apoptosis in some cell types. The importance of Mst1 in cell death caused by clinically relevant pathologic stimuli is unknown, however. In this study, we show that Mst1 is a prominent myelin basic protein kinase activated by proapoptotic stimuli in cardiac myocytes and that Mst1 causes cardiac myocyte apoptosis in vitro in a kinase activity–dependent manner. In vivo, cardiac-specific overexpression of Mst1 in transgenic mice results in activation of caspases, increased apoptosis, and dilated cardiomyopathy. Surprisingly, however, Mst1 prevents compensatory cardiac myocyte elongation or hypertrophy despite increased wall stress, thereby obscuring the use of the Frank-Starling mechanism, a fundamental mechanism by which the heart maintains cardiac output in response to increased mechanical load at the single myocyte level. Furthermore, Mst1 is activated by ischemia/reperfusion in the mouse heart in vivo. Suppression of endogenous Mst1 by cardiac-specific overexpression of dominant-negative Mst1 in transgenic mice prevents myocyte death by pathologic insults. These results show that Mst1 works as both an essential initiator of apoptosis and an inhibitor of hypertrophy in cardiac myocytes, resulting in a previously unrecognized form of cardiomyopathy.
Shimako Yamamoto, Guiping Yang, Daniela Zablocki, Jing Liu, Chull Hong, Song-Jung Kim, Sandra Soler, Mari Odashima, Jill Thaisz, Ghassan Yehia, Carlos A. Molina, Atsuko Yatani, Dorothy E. Vatner, Stephen F. Vatner, Junichi Sadoshima
The MAPKs are important transducers of growth and stress stimuli in virtually all eukaryotic cell types. In the mammalian heart, MAPK signaling pathways have been hypothesized to regulate myocyte growth in response to developmental signals or physiologic and pathologic stimuli. Here we generated cardiac-specific transgenic mice expressing dominant-negative mutants of p38α, MKK3, or MKK6. Remarkably, attenuation of cardiac p38 activity produced a progressive growth response and myopathy in the heart that correlated with the degree of enzymatic inhibition. Moreover, dominant-negative p38α, MKK3, and MKK6 transgenic mice each showed enhanced cardiac hypertrophy following aortic banding, Ang II infusion, isoproterenol infusion, or phenylephrine infusion for 14 days. A mechanism underlying this enhanced-growth profile was suggested by the observation that dominant-negative p38α directly augmented nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) transcriptional activity and its nuclear translocation. In vivo, NFAT-dependent luciferase reporter transgenic mice showed enhanced activation in the presence of the dominant-negative p38α transgene before and after the onset of cardiac hypertrophy. More significantly, genetic disruption of the calcineurin Aβ gene rescued hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and depressed functional capacity observed in p38-inhibited mice. Collectively, these observations indicate that reduced p38 signaling in the heart promotes myocyte growth through a mechanism involving enhanced calcineurin-NFAT signaling.
Julian C. Braz, Orlando F. Bueno, Qiangrong Liang, Benjamin J. Wilkins, Yan-Shan Dai, Stephanie Parsons, Joseph Braunwart, Betty J. Glascock, Raisa Klevitsky, Thomas F. Kimball, Timothy E. Hewett, Jeffery D. Molkentin
Heart failure is a common, lethal condition whose pathogenesis is poorly understood. Recent studies have identified low levels of myocyte apoptosis (80–250 myocytes per 105 nuclei) in failing human hearts. It remains unclear, however, whether this cell death is a coincidental finding, a protective process, or a causal component in pathogenesis. Using transgenic mice that express a conditionally active caspase exclusively in the myocardium, we demonstrate that very low levels of myocyte apoptosis (23 myocytes per 105 nuclei, compared with 1.5 myocytes per 105 nuclei in controls) are sufficient to cause a lethal, dilated cardiomyopathy. Interestingly, these levels are four- to tenfold lower than those observed in failing human hearts. Conversely, inhibition of cardiac myocyte death in this murine model largely prevents the development of cardiac dilation and contractile dysfunction, the hallmarks of heart failure. To our knowledge, these data provide the first direct evidence that myocyte apoptosis may be a causal mechanism of heart failure, and they suggest that inhibition of this cell death process may constitute the basis for novel therapies.
Detlef Wencker, Madhulika Chandra, Khanh Nguyen, Wenfeng Miao, Stavros Garantziotis, Stephen M. Factor, Jamshid Shirani, Robert C. Armstrong, Richard N. Kitsis
The cardiac pacemaker current If is a major determinant of diastolic depolarization in sinus nodal cells and has a key role in heartbeat generation. Therefore, we hypothesized that some forms of “idiopathic” sinus node dysfunction (SND) are related to inherited dysfunctions of cardiac pacemaker ion channels. In a candidate gene approach, a heterozygous 1-bp deletion (1631delC) in exon 5 of the human HCN4 gene was detected in a patient with idiopathic SND. The mutant HCN4 protein (HCN4-573X) had a truncated C-terminus and lacked the cyclic nucleotide–binding domain. COS-7 cells transiently transfected with HCN4-573X cDNA indicated normal intracellular trafficking and membrane integration of HCN4-573X subunits. Patch-clamp experiments showed that HCN4-573X channels mediated If-like currents that were insensitive to increased cellular cAMP levels. Coexpression experiments showed a dominant-negative effect of HCN4-573X subunits on wild-type subunits. These data indicate that the cardiac If channels are functionally expressed but with altered biophysical properties. Taken together, the clinical, genetic, and in vitro data provide a likely explanation for the patient’s sinus bradycardia and the chronotropic incompetence.
Eric Schulze-Bahr, Axel Neu, Patrick Friederich, U. Benjamin Kaupp, Günter Breithardt, Olaf Pongs, Dirk Isbrandt