Myocardin is sufficient for a smooth muscle-like contractile phenotype.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Myocardin (Myocd) is a strong coactivator that binds the serum response factor (SRF) transcription factor over CArG elements embedded within smooth muscle cell (SMC) and cardiac muscle cyto-contractile genes. Here, we sought to ascertain whether Myocd-mediated gene expression confers a structural and physiological cardiac or SMC phenotype. METHODS AND RESULTS:Adenoviral-mediated expression of Myocd in the BC(3)H1 cell line induces cardiac and SMC genes while suppressing both skeletal muscle markers and cell growth. Immunofluorescence microscopy shows that SRF and a SMC-like cyto-contractile apparatus are elevated with Myocd overexpression. A short hairpin RNA to Srf impairs BC(3)H1 cyto-architecture; however, cotransduction with Myocd results in complete restoration of the cyto-architecture. Electron microscopic studies demonstrate a SMC ultrastructural phenotype with no evidence for cardiac sarcomerogenesis. Biochemical and time-lapsed videomicroscopy assays reveal clear evidence for Myocd-induced SMC-like contraction. CONCLUSIONS:Myocd is sufficient for the establishment of a SMC-like contractile phenotype.
Project description:Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) are remarkably plastic. Their reversible differentiation is required for growth and wound healing but also contributes to pathologies such as atherosclerosis and restenosis. Although key regulators of the SMC phenotype, including myocardin (MYOCD) and KLF4, have been identified, a unifying epigenetic mechanism that confers reversible SMC differentiation has not been reported.Using human SMCs, human arterial tissue, and mouse models, we report that SMC plasticity is governed by the DNA-modifying enzyme ten-eleven translocation-2 (TET2). TET2 and its product, 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC), are enriched in contractile SMCs but reduced in dedifferentiated SMCs. TET2 knockdown inhibits expression of key procontractile genes, including MYOCD and SRF, with concomitant transcriptional upregulation of KLF4. TET2 knockdown prevents rapamycin-induced SMC differentiation, whereas TET2 overexpression is sufficient to induce a contractile phenotype. TET2 overexpression also induces SMC gene expression in fibroblasts. Chromatin immunoprecipitation demonstrates that TET2 coordinately regulates phenotypic modulation through opposing effects on chromatin accessibility at the promoters of procontractile versus dedifferentiation-associated genes. Notably, we find that TET2 binds and 5-hmC is enriched in CArG-rich regions of active SMC contractile promoters (MYOCD, SRF, and MYH11). Loss of TET2 and 5-hmC positively correlates with the degree of injury in murine models of vascular injury and human atherosclerotic disease. Importantly, localized TET2 knockdown exacerbates injury response, and local TET2 overexpression restores the 5-hmC epigenetic landscape and contractile gene expression and greatly attenuates intimal hyperplasia in vivo.We identify TET2 as a novel and necessary master epigenetic regulator of SMC differentiation.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) change phenotypes under various pathophysiological conditions. These changes are largely controlled by the serum response factor (SRF), a transcription factor that binds to CC (A/T)6 GG (CArG) boxes in SM contractile genes. MicroRNAs (miRNA) regulate transitions among SMC phenotypes. The SMC miRNA transcriptome (SMC miRNAome) and its regulation by SRF have not been determined. METHODS:We performed massively parallel sequencing to identify gastrointestinal (GI) SMC miRNA transcriptomes in mice and humans. SMC miRNA transcriptomes were mapped to identify all CArG boxes, which were confirmed by SRF knockdown and microarrays. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to identify SMC-phenotypic miRNAs in differentiated and proliferating SMCs. Bioinformatics and target validation analysis showed regulation of SMC phenotype by SRF-dependent, SMC-phenotype miRNAs. RESULTS:We cloned and identified GI miRNA transcriptomes using genome-wide analyses of mouse and human cells. The SM miRNAome consisted of hundreds of unique miRNAs that were highly conserved among both species. We mapped miRNAs CArG boxes and found that many had an SRF-dependent signature in the SM miRNAome. The SM miRNAs CArG boxes had several distinct features. We also identified approximately 100 SMC-phenotypic miRNAs that were induced in differentiated or proliferative SMC phenotypes. We showed that SRF-dependent, SMC-phenotypic miRNAs bind and regulate Srf and its cofactors, myocadin (Myocd) and member of ETS oncogene family Elk1. CONCLUSIONS:The GI SMC phenotypes are controlled by SRF-dependent, SMC-phenotypic miRNAs that regulate expression of SRF, MYOCD, and ELK1.
Project description:Smooth muscle cell (SMC) differentiation is defined largely by a number of cell-restricted genes governed directly by the serum response factor (SRF)/myocardin (MYOCD) transcriptional switch. Here, we describe a new SRF/MYOCD-dependent, SMC-restricted gene known as Leiomodin 1 (Lmod1). Conventional and quantitative RT-PCRs indicate that Lmod1 mRNA expression is enriched in SMC-containing tissues of the mouse, whereas its two paralogs, Lmod2 and Lmod3, exhibit abundant expression in skeletal and cardiac muscle with very low levels in SMC-containing tissues. Western blotting and immunostaining of various adult and embryonic mouse tissues further confirm SMC-specific expression of the LMOD1 protein. Comparative genomic analysis of the human LMOD1 and LMOD2 genes with their respective mouse and rat orthologs shows high conservation between the three exons and several noncoding sequences, including the immediate 5' promoter region. Two conserved CArG boxes are present in both the LMOD1 and LMOD2 promoter regions, although LMOD1 displays much higher promoter activity and is more responsive to SRF/MYOCD stimulation. Gel shift assays demonstrate clear binding between SRF and the two CArG boxes in human LMOD1. Although the CArG boxes in LMOD1 and LMOD2 are similar, only LMOD1 displays SRF or MYOCD-dependent activation. Transgenic mouse studies reveal wild type LMOD1 promoter activity in cardiac and vascular SMC. Such activity is abolished upon mutation of both CArG boxes. Collectively, these data demonstrate that Lmod1 is a new SMC-restricted SRF/MYOCD target gene.
Project description:<h4>Rationale</h4>The gene encoding TCF21 (transcription factor 21) has been linked to coronary artery disease risk by human genome-wide association studies in multiple racial ethnic groups. In murine models, Tcf21 is required for phenotypic modulation of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in atherosclerotic tissues and promotes a fibroblast phenotype in these cells. In humans, TCF21 expression inhibits risk for coronary artery disease. The molecular mechanism by which TCF21 regulates SMC phenotype is not known.<h4>Objective</h4>To better understand how TCF21 affects the SMC phenotype, we sought to investigate the possible mechanisms by which it regulates the lineage determining MYOCD (myocardin)-SRF (serum response factor) pathway.<h4>Methods and results</h4>Modulation of <i>TCF21</i> expression in human coronary artery SMC revealed that <i>TCF21</i> suppresses a broad range of SMC markers, as well as key SMC transcription factors MYOCD and SRF, at the RNA and protein level. We conducted chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing to map SRF-binding sites in human coronary artery SMC, showing that binding is colocalized in the genome with TCF21, including at a novel enhancer in the <i>SRF</i> gene, and at the <i>MYOCD</i> gene promoter. In vitro genome editing indicated that the SRF enhancer CArG box regulates transcription of the SRF gene, and mutation of this conserved motif in the orthologous mouse SRF enhancer revealed decreased SRF expression in aorta and heart tissues. Direct TCF21 binding and transcriptional inhibition at colocalized sites were established by reporter gene transfection assays. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and protein coimmunoprecipitation studies provided evidence that TCF21 blocks MYOCD and SRF association by direct TCF21-MYOCD interaction.<h4>Conclusions</h4>These data indicate that <i>TCF21</i> antagonizes the MYOCD-SRF pathway through multiple mechanisms, further establishing a role for this coronary artery disease-associated gene in fundamental SMC processes and indicating the importance of smooth muscle response to vascular stress and phenotypic modulation of this cell type in coronary artery disease risk.
Project description:Large conductance calcium-activated potassium (MaxiK) channels play a pivotal role in maintaining normal arterial tone by regulating the excitation-contraction coupling process. MaxiK channels comprise alpha and beta subunits encoded by Kcnma and the cell-restricted Kcnmb genes, respectively. Although the functionality of MaxiK channel subunits has been well studied, the molecular regulation of their transcription and modulation in smooth muscle cells (SMCs) is incomplete. Using several model systems, we demonstrate down-regulation of Kcnmb1 mRNA upon SMC phenotypic modulation in vitro and in vivo. As part of a broad effort to define all functional CArG elements in the genome (i.e. the CArGome), we discovered two conserved CArG boxes located in the proximal promoter and first intron of the human KCNMB1 gene. Gel shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays confirmed serum response factor (SRF) binding to both CArG elements. A luciferase assay showed myocardin (MYOCD)-mediated transactivation of the KCNMB1 promoter in a CArG element-dependent manner. In vivo analysis of the human KCNMB1 promoter disclosed activity in embryonic heart and aortic SMCs; mutation of both conserved CArG elements completely abolished in vivo promoter activity. Forced expression of MYOCD increased Kcnmb1 expression in a variety of rodent and human non-SMC lines with no effect on expression of the Kcnma1 subunit. Conversely, knockdown of Srf resulted in decreases of endogenous Kcnmb1. Functional studies demonstrated MYOCD-induced, iberiotoxin-sensitive potassium currents in porcine coronary SMCs. These results reveal the first ion channel subunit as a direct target of SRF-MYOCD transactivation, providing further insight into the role of MYOCD as a master regulator of the SMC contractile phenotype.
Project description:Cerebral angiopathy contributes to cognitive decline and dementia in Alzheimer's disease (AD) through cerebral blood flow (CBF) reductions and dysregulation. We report vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in small pial and intracerebral arteries, which are critical for CBF regulation, express in AD high levels of serum response factor (SRF) and myocardin (MYOCD), two interacting transcription factors that orchestrate a VSMC-differentiated phenotype. Consistent with this finding, AD VSMC overexpressed several SRF-MYOCD-regulated contractile proteins and exhibited a hypercontractile phenotype. MYOCD overexpression in control human cerebral VSMC induced an AD-like hypercontractile phenotype and diminished both endothelial-dependent and -independent relaxation in the mouse aorta ex vivo. In contrast, silencing SRF normalized contractile protein content and reversed a hypercontractile phenotype in AD VSMC. MYOCD in vivo gene transfer to mouse pial arteries increased contractile protein content and diminished CBF responses produced by brain activation in wild-type mice and in two AD models, the Dutch/Iowa/Swedish triple mutant human amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta)-precursor protein (APP)- expressing mice and APPsw(+/-) mice. Silencing Srf had the opposite effect. Expression of SRF did not change in VSMC subjected to Alzheimer's neurotoxin, Abeta. Thus, SRF-MYOCD overexpression in small cerebral arteries appears to initiate independently of Abeta a pathogenic pathway mediating arterial hypercontractility and CBF dysregulation, which are associated with Alzheimer's dementia.
Project description:Myocardin is a muscle-restricted transcriptional coactivator that activates a serum response factor (SRF)-dependent gene program required for cardiogenesis and embryonic survival. To identify myocardin-dependent functions in smooth muscle cells (SMCs) during postnatal development, mice harboring a SMC-restricted conditional, inducible Myocd null mutation were generated and characterized. Tamoxifen-treated SMMHC-Cre(ERT2)/Myocd(F/F) conditional mutant mice die within 6 mo of Myocd gene deletion, exhibiting profound derangements in the structure of great arteries as well as the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts. Conditional mutant mice develop arterial aneurysms, dissection, and rupture, recapitulating pathology observed in heritable forms of thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection (TAAD). SMCs populating arteries of Myocd conditional mutant mice modulate their phenotype by down-regulation of SMC contractile genes and up-regulation of extracellular matrix proteins. Surprisingly, this is accompanied by SMC autonomous activation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and autophagy, which over time progress to programmed cell death. Consistent with these observations, Myocd conditional mutant mice develop remarkable dilation of the stomach, small intestine, bladder, and ureters attributable to the loss of visceral SMCs disrupting the muscularis mucosa. Taken together, these data demonstrate that during postnatal development, myocardin plays a unique, and important, role required for maintenance and homeostasis of the vasculature, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary tracts. The loss of myocardin in SMCs triggers ER stress and autophagy, which transitions to apoptosis, revealing evolutionary conservation of myocardin function in SMCs and cardiomyocytes.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Vascular hyperproliferative disorders are characterized by excessive smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation leading to vessel remodeling and occlusion. In pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), SMC phenotype switching from a terminally differentiated contractile to synthetic state is gaining traction as our understanding of the disease progression improves. While maintenance of SMC contractile phenotype is reportedly orchestrated by a MEF2C-myocardin (MYOCD) interplay, little is known regarding molecular control at this nexus. Moreover, the burgeoning interest in microRNAs (miRs) provides the basis for exploring their modulation of MEF2C-MYOCD signaling, and in turn, a pro-proliferative, synthetic SMC phenotype. We hypothesized that suppression of SMC contractile phenotype in pulmonary hypertension is mediated by miR-214 via repression of the MEF2C-MYOCD-leiomodin1 (LMOD1) signaling axis.<h4>Methods and results</h4>In SMCs isolated from a PAH patient cohort and commercially obtained hPASMCs exposed to hypoxia, miR-214 expression was monitored by qRT-PCR. miR-214 was upregulated in PAH- vs. control subject hPASMCs as well as in commercially obtained hPASMCs exposed to hypoxia. These increases in miR-214 were paralleled by MEF2C, MYOCD and SMC contractile protein downregulation. Of these, LMOD1 and MEF2C were directly targeted by the miR. Mir-214 overexpression mimicked the PAH profile, downregulating MEF2C and LMOD1. AntagomiR-214 abrogated hypoxia-induced suppression of the contractile phenotype and its attendant proliferation. Anti-miR-214 also restored PAH-PASMCs to a contractile phenotype seen during vascular homeostasis.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our findings illustrate a key role for miR-214 in modulation of MEF2C-MYOCD-LMOD1 signaling and suggest that an antagonist of miR-214 could mitigate SMC phenotype changes and proliferation in vascular hyperproliferative disorders including PAH.
Project description:Myocardin (Myocd) is a potent transcriptional coactivator that has been implicated in cardiovascular development and adaptation of the cardiovascular system to hemodynamic stress. To determine the function of myocardin in the developing cardiovascular system, Myocd(F/F)/Wnt1-Cre(+) and Myocd(F/F)/Pax3-Cre(+) mice were generated in which the myocardin gene was selectively ablated in neural crest-derived SMCs populating the cardiac outflow tract and great arteries. Both Myocd(F/F)/Wnt1-Cre(+) and Myocd(F/F)/Pax3-Cre(+) mutant mice survived to birth, but died prior to postnatal day 3 from patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). Neural crest-derived SMCs populating the ductus arteriosus (DA) and great arteries exhibited a cell autonomous block in expression of myocardin-regulated genes encoding SMC-restricted contractile proteins. Moreover, Myocd-deficient vascular SMCs populating the DA exhibited ultrastructural features generally associated with the SMC synthetic, rather than contractile, phenotype. Consistent with these findings, ablation of the Myocd gene in primary aortic SMCs harvested from Myocd conditional mutant mice caused a dramatic decrease in SMC contractile protein expression. Taken together, these data demonstrate that myocardin regulates expression of genes required for the contractile phenotype in neural crest-derived SMCs and provide new insights into the molecular and genetic programs that may underlie PDA.
Project description:Yin Yang 1 (YY1) regulates gene transcription in a variety of biological processes. In this study, we aim to determine the role of YY1 in vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) phenotypic modulation both in vivo and in vitro. Here we show that vascular injury in rodent carotid arteries induces YY1 expression along with reduced expression of smooth muscle differentiation markers in the carotids. Consistent with this finding, YY1 expression is induced in differentiated VSMCs in response to serum stimulation. To determine the underlying molecular mechanisms, we found that YY1 suppresses the transcription of CArG box-dependent SMC-specific genes including SM22?, SM?-actin and SMMHC. Interestingly, YY1 suppresses the transcriptional activity of the SM22? promoter by hindering the binding of serum response factor (SRF) to the proximal CArG box. YY1 also suppresses the transcription and the transactivation of myocardin (MYOCD), a master regulator for SMC-specific gene transcription by binding to SRF to form the MYOCD/SRF/CArG box triad (known as the ternary complex). Mechanistically, YY1 directly interacts with MYOCD to competitively displace MYOCD from SRF. This is the first evidence showing that YY1 inhibits SMC differentiation by directly targeting MYOCD. These findings provide new mechanistic insights into the regulatory mechanisms that govern SMC phenotypic modulation in the pathogenesis of vascular diseases.