Interferon regulatory factor 8 modulates phenotypic switching of smooth muscle cells by regulating the activity of myocardin.
ABSTRACT: Interferon regulatory factor 8 (IRF8), a member of the IRF transcription factor family, was recently implicated in vascular diseases. In the present study, using the mouse left carotid artery wire injury model, we unexpectedly observed that the expression of IRF8 was greatly enhanced in smooth muscle cells (SMCs) by injury. Compared with the wild-type controls, IRF8 global knockout mice exhibited reduced neointimal lesions and maintained SMC marker gene expression. We further generated SMC-specific IRF8 transgenic mice using an SM22?-driven IRF8 plasmid construct. In contrast to the knockout mice, mice with SMC-overexpressing IRF8 exhibited a synthetic phenotype and enhanced neointima formation. Mechanistically, IRF8 inhibited SMC marker gene expression through regulating serum response factor (SRF) transactivation in a myocardin-dependent manner. Furthermore, a coimmunoprecipitation assay indicated a direct interaction of IRF8 with myocardin, in which a specific region of myocardin was essential for recruiting acetyltransferase p300. Altogether, IRF8 is crucial in modulating SMC phenotype switching and neointima formation in response to vascular injury via direct interaction with the SRF/myocardin complex.
Project description:The SAP family transcription factor myocardin functionally synergizes with serum response factor (SRF) and plays an important role in cardiac development. To determine the function of myocardin in the smooth muscle cell (SMC) lineage, we mapped the pattern of myocardin gene expression and examined the molecular mechanisms underlying transcriptional activity of myocardin in SMCs and embryonic stem (ES) cells. The human and murine myocardin genes were expressed in vascular and visceral SMCs at levels equivalent to or exceeding those observed in the heart. During embryonic development, the myocardin gene was expressed abundantly in a precise, developmentally regulated pattern in SMCs. Forced expression of myocardin transactivated multiple SMC-specific transcriptional regulatory elements in non-SMCs. By contrast, myocardin-induced transactivation was not observed in SRF(-/-) ES cells but could be rescued by forced expression of SRF or the SRF DNA-binding domain. Furthermore, expression of a dominant-negative myocardin mutant protein or small-interfering-RNA-induced myocardin knockdown significantly reduced SM22 alpha promoter activity in SMCs. Most importantly, forced expression of myocardin activated expression of the SM22 alpha, smooth muscle alpha-actin, and calponin-h1 genes in undifferentiated mouse ES cells. Taken together, these data demonstrate that myocardin plays an important role in the SRF-dependent transcriptional program that regulates SMC development and differentiation.
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.
Project description:Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is a major complication of chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD leads to uremia, which modulates the phenotype of aortic smooth muscle cells (SMCs). Phenotypic modulation of SMCs plays a key role in accelerating atherosclerosis. We investigated the hypothesis that uremia potentiates neointima formation in response to vascular injury in mice. Carotid wire injury was performed on C57BL/6 wt and apolipoprotein E knockout (Apoe <sup>-/-</sup>) mice two weeks after induction of uremia by 5/6 nephrectomy. Wire injury led to neointima formation and downregulation of genes encoding classical SMC markers (i.e., myocardin, ?-smooth muscle actin, SM22-alpha, and smooth muscle myosin heavy chain) in both wt and Apoe <sup>-/-</sup> mice. Contrary to our expectations, uremia did not potentiate neointima formation, nor did it affect intimal lesion composition as judged from magnetic resonance imaging and histological analyses. Also, there was no effect of uremia on SMC marker gene expression in the injured carotid arteries, suggesting that there may be different effects of uremia on SMCs in different vascular beds. In conclusion, uremia does not accelerate neointima formation in response to wire injury of the carotid artery in mice.
Project description:Myocardin-related transcription factor (MRTF)-A is a Rho signalling-responsive co-activator of serum response factor (SRF). Here, we show that induction of MRTF-A expression is key to pathological vascular remodelling. MRTF-A expression was significantly higher in the wire-injured femoral arteries of wild-type mice and in the atherosclerotic aortic tissues of ApoE(-/-) mice than in healthy control tissues, whereas myocardin expression was significantly lower. Both neointima formation in wire-injured femoral arteries in MRTF-A knockout (Mkl1(-/-)) mice and atherosclerotic lesions in Mkl1(-/-); ApoE(-/-) mice were significantly attenuated. Expression of vinculin, matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP-9) and integrin ?1, three SRF targets and key regulators of cell migration, in injured arteries was significantly weaker in Mkl1(-/-) mice than in wild-type mice. In cultured vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), knocking down MRTF-A reduced expression of these genes and significantly impaired cell migration. Underlying the increased MRTF-A expression in dedifferentiated VSMCs was the downregulation of microRNA-1. Moreover, the MRTF-A inhibitor CCG1423 significantly reduced neointima formation following wire injury in mice. MRTF-A could thus be a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of vascular diseases.
Project description:The contractile phenotype of smooth muscle (SM) cells is controlled by serum response factor (SRF), which drives the expression of SM-specific genes including SM alpha-actin, SM22, and others. Myocardin is a cardiac and SM-restricted coactivator of SRF that is necessary for SM gene transcription. Growth factors inducing proliferation of SM cells inhibit SM gene transcription, in a manner dependent on the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases ERK1/2. In this study, we found that ERK1/2 phosphorylates mouse myocardin (isoform B) at four sites (Ser(812), Ser(859), Ser(866), and Thr(893)), all of which are located within the transactivation domain of myocardin. The single mutation of each site either to alanine or to aspartate has no effect on the ability of myocardin to activate SRF. However, the phosphomimetic mutation of all four sites to aspartate (4xD) significantly impairs activation of SRF by myocardin, whereas the phosphodeficient mutation of all four sites to alanine (4xA) has no effect. This translates to a reduced ability of the 4xD (but not of 4xA) mutant of myocardin to stimulate expression of SM alpha-actin and SM22, as assessed by corresponding promoter, mRNA, or protein assays. Furthermore, we found that phosphorylation of myocardin at these sites impairs its interaction with acetyltransferase, cAMP response element-binding protein-binding protein, which is known to promote the transcriptional activity of myocardin. In conclusion, we describe a novel mode of modulation of SM gene transcription by ERK1/2 through a direct phosphorylation of myocardin.
Project description:RATIONALE:Vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) phenotypic modulation and vascular remodeling contribute to the development of several vascular disorders such as restenosis after angioplasty, transplant vasculopathy, and atherosclerosis. The mechanisms underlying these processes, however, remain largely unknown. OBJECTIVE:The objective of this study is to determine the role of dedicator of cytokinesis 2 (DOCK2) in SMC phenotypic modulation and vascular remodeling. METHODS AND RESULTS:Platelet-derived growth factor-BB induced DOCK2 expression while modulating SMC phenotype. DOCK2 deficiency diminishes platelet-derived growth factor-BB or serum-induced downregulation of SMC markers. Conversely, DOCK2 overexpression inhibits SMC marker expression in primary cultured SMC. Mechanistically, DOCK2 inhibits myocardin expression, blocks serum response factor nuclear location, attenuates myocardin binding to serum response factor, and thus attenuates myocardin-induced smooth muscle marker promoter activity. Moreover, DOCK2 and Kruppel-like factor 4 cooperatively inhibit myocardin-serum response factor interaction. In a rat carotid artery balloon-injury model, DOCK2 is induced in media layer SMC initially and neointima SMC subsequently after vascular injury. Knockdown of DOCK2 dramatically inhibits the neointima formation by 60%. Most importantly, knockout of DOCK2 in mice markedly blocks ligation-induced intimal hyperplasia while restoring SMC contractile protein expression. CONCLUSIONS:Our studies identified DOCK2 as a novel regulator for SMC phenotypic modulation and vascular lesion formation after vascular injury. Therefore, targeting DOCK2 may be a potential therapeutic strategy for the prevention of vascular remodeling in proliferative vascular diseases.
Project description:During the onset and progression of atherosclerosis, the vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) phenotype changes from differentiated to dedifferentiated, and in some cases, this change is accompanied by osteogenic transition, resulting in vascular calcification. One characteristic of dedifferentiated VSMCs is the down-regulation of smooth muscle cell (SMC) marker gene expression. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), which are involved in the induction of osteogenic gene expression, are detected in calcified vasculature. In this study, we found that the BMP2-, BMP4-, and BMP6-induced expression of Msx transcription factors (Msx1 and Msx2) preceded the down-regulation of SMC marker expression in cultured differentiated VSMCs. Either Msx1 or Msx2 markedly reduced the myocardin-dependent promoter activities of SMC marker genes (SM22alpha and caldesmon). We further investigated interactions between Msx1 and myocardin/serum response factor (SRF)/CArG-box motif (cis element for SRF) using coimmunoprecipitation, gel-shift, and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays. Our results showed that Msx1 or Msx2 formed a ternary complex with SRF and myocardin and inhibited the binding of SRF or SRF/myocardin to the CArG-box motif, resulting in inhibition of their transcription.
Project description:We and others have previously shown that RhoA-dependent stimulation of myocardin-related transcription factor nuclear localization promotes smooth muscle cell (SMC) marker gene expression. The goal of this study was to provide direct in vivo evidence that actin polymerization by the diaphanous-related formins contributes to the regulation of SMC differentiation and phenotype.Conditional Cre-based genetic approaches were used to overexpress a well-characterized dominant-negative variant of mDia1 (DNmDia) in SMC. DNmDia expression in SM22-expressing cells resulted in embryonic and perinatal lethality in ?20% of mice because of defects in myocardial development and SMC investment of peripheral vessels. Although most DNmDia(+)/SM22Cre(+) mice exhibited no overt phenotype, the re-expression of SMC differentiation marker gene expression that occurs after carotid artery ligation was delayed, and this effect was accompanied by a significant decrease in myocardin-related transcription factor-A nuclear localization. Interestingly, neointima growth was inhibited by expression of DNmDia in SMC and this was likely because of a defect in directional SMC migration and not to defects in SMC proliferation or survival. Finally, by using the tamoxifen-inducible SM MHC-CreER(T2) line, we showed that SMC-specific induction of DNmDia in adult mice decreased SMC marker gene expression.Our demonstration that diaphanous-related formin signaling plays a role in heart and vascular development and the maintenance of SMC phenotype provides important new evidence that Rho/actin/myocardin-related transcription factor signaling plays a critical role in cardiovascular function.
Project description:Myocardin-related transcription factors (MRTFs: myocardin/<i>MYOCD</i>, MRTF-A/<i>MRTFA</i>, and MRTF-B/<i>MRTFB</i>) are co-factors of serum response factor (SRF) that activate the smooth muscle cell (SMC) gene program and that play roles in cardiovascular development and mechanobiology. Gain and loss of function experiments have defined the SMC gene program under control of MRTFs, yet full understanding of their impact is lacking. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that the muscarinic M<sub>3</sub> receptor (<i>CHRM3</i>) is regulated by MRTFs together with SRF. Forced expression of MYOCD (8d) in human coronary artery (SMC) followed by RNA-sequencing showed increased levels of M<sub>2</sub>, M<sub>3</sub>, and M<sub>5</sub> receptors (<i>CHRM2</i>: 2-fold, <i>CHRM3</i>: 16-fold, and <i>CHRM5</i>: 2-fold). The effect of MYOCD on M<sub>3</sub> was confirmed by RT-qPCR using both coronary artery and urinary bladder SMCs, and correlation analyses using human transcriptomic datasets suggested that M<sub>3</sub> may also be regulated by MRTF-B. Head-to-head comparisons of MYOCD, MRTF-A and MRTF-B, argued that while all MRTFs are effective, MRTF-B is the most powerful transactivator of <i>CHRM3</i>, causing a 600-fold increase at 120h. Accordingly, MRTF-B conferred responsiveness to the muscarinic agonist carbachol in Ca<sup>2+</sup> imaging experiments. M<sub>3</sub> was suppressed on treatment with the MRTF-SRF inhibitor CCG-1423 using SMCs transduced with either MRTF-A or MRTF-B and using intact mouse esophagus in culture (by 92±2%). Moreover, silencing of SRF with a short hairpin reduced <i>CHRM3</i> (by >60%) in parallel with α-actin (<i>ACTA2</i>). Tamoxifen inducible knockout of Srf in smooth muscle reduced <i>Srf</i> (by 54±4%) and <i>Chrm3</i> (by 41±6%) in the urinary bladder at 10days, but <i>Srf</i> was much less reduced or unchanged in aorta, ileum, colon, trachea, and esophagus. Longer induction (21d) further accentuated the reduction of <i>Chrm3</i> in the bladder and ileum, but no change was seen in the aorta. Single cell RNA-sequencing revealed that <i>Mrtfb</i> dominates in ECs, while <i>Myocd</i> dominates in SMCs, raising the possibility that <i>Chrm3</i> may be driven by Mrtfb-Srf in the endothelium and by Myocd-Srf in SMCs. These findings define a novel transcriptional control mechanism for muscarinic M<sub>3</sub> receptors in human cells, and in mice, that could be targeted for therapy.
Project description: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.