EPHB4 Protein Expression in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells Regulates Their Contractility, and EPHB4 Deletion Leads to Hypotension in Mice.
ABSTRACT: EPH kinases are the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases, and their ligands, ephrins (EFNs), are also cell surface molecules. This work presents evidence that EPHB4 on vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) is involved in blood pressure regulation. We generated gene KO mice with smooth muscle cell-specific deletion of EPHB4. Male KO mice, but not female KO mice, were hypotensive. VSMCs from male KO mice showed reduced contractility when compared with their WT counterparts. Signaling both from EFNBs to EPHB4 (forward signaling) and from EPHB4 to EFNB2 (reverse signaling) modulated VSMC contractility. At the molecular level, the absence of EPHB4 in VSMCs resulted in compromised signaling from Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) to myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) to myosin light chain, the last of which controls the contraction force of motor molecule myosin. Near the cell membrane, an adaptor protein GRIP1, which can associate with EFNB2, was found to be essential in mediating EPHB4-to-EFNB reverse signaling, which regulated VSMC contractility, based on siRNA gene knockdown studies. Our research indicates that EPHB4 plays an essential role in regulating small artery contractility and blood pressure.
Project description:Ephrin B2 (EFNB2) is a ligand for erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular kinases (EPH), the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases. It has critical functions in many biological systems, but is not known to regulate blood pressure. We generated mice with a smooth muscle cell (SMC)-specific deletion of EFNB2 and investigated its roles in blood pressure regulation and vascular SMC (VSMC) contractility. Male Efnb2 knockout (KO) mice presented reduced blood pressure, whereas female KO mice had no such reduction. Both forward signaling from EFNB2 to EPHs and reverse signaling from EPHs to EFNB2 were involved in regulating VSMC contractility, with EPHB4 serving as a critical molecule for forward signaling, based on crosslinking studies. We also found that a region from aa 313 to aa 331 in the intracellular tail of EFNB2 was essential for reverse signaling regulating VSMC contractility, based on deletion mutation studies. In a human genetic study, we identified five SNPs in the 3' region of the EFNB2 gene, which were in linkage disequilibrium and were significantly associated with hypertension for male but not female subjects, consistent with our findings in mice. The coding (minor) alleles of these five SNPs were protective in males. We have thus discovered a previously unknown blood pressure-lowering mechanism mediated by EFNB2 and identified EFNB2 as a gene associated with hypertension risk in humans.
Project description:The tyrosine kinase receptor EphB4 is frequently overexpressed in ovarian and other solid tumors and is involved in interactions between tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment, contributing to metastasis. Trans-interaction between EphB4 and its membrane-bound ligand ephrin B2 (EFNB2) mediates bi-directional signaling: forward EFNB2-to-EphB4 signaling suppresses tumor cell proliferation, while reverse EphB4-to-EFNB2 signaling stimulates the invasive and angiogenic properties of endothelial cells. Currently, no small molecule-based, dual-function, EphB4-binding peptides are available. Here, we report our discovery of a bi-directional ephrin agonist peptide, BIDEN-AP which, when selectively internalized via receptor-mediated endocytosis, suppressed invasion and epithelial-mesenchymal transition of ovarian cancer cells. BIDEN-AP also inhibited endothelial migration and tube formation. In vivo, BIDEN-AP and its nanoconjugate CCPM-BIDEN-AP significantly reduced growth of orthotopic ovarian tumors, with CCPM-BIDEN-AP displaying greater antitumor potency than BIDEN-AP. Both BIDEN-AP and CCPM-BIDEN-AP compromised angiogenesis by downregulating epithelial-mesenchymal transition and angiogenic pathways. Thus, we report a novel EphB4-based therapeutic approach against ovarian cancer.
Project description:Eph kinases constitute the largest receptor tyrosine kinase family, and their ligands, ephrins (Efns), are also cell surface molecules. Although they are ligands, Efns can transduce signals reversely into cells. We have no prior knowledge of the role played by any members of this family of kinases or their ligands in blood pressure (BP) regulation. In the present studies, we investigated the role of Efnb1 in vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) contractility and BP regulation. We revealed that reverse signaling through Efnb1 led to a reduction of RhoA activation and VSMC contractility in vitro. Consistent with this finding, ex vivo, there was an increase of RhoA activity accompanied by augmented myosin light chain phosphorylation in mesenteric arteries from mice with smooth muscle-specific conditional Efnb1 gene knock-out (KO). Small interfering RNA knockdown of Grip1, a molecule associated with the Efnb1 intracellular tail, partially eliminated the effect of Efnb1 on VSMC contractility and myosin light chain phosphorylation. In support of these in vitro and ex vivo results, Efnb1 KO mice on a high salt diet showed a statistically significant heightened increment of BP at multiple time points during stress compared with wild type littermates. Our results demonstrate that Efnb1 is a previously unknown negative regulator of VSMC contractility and BP and that it exerts such effects via reverse signaling through Grip1.
Project description:Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is a common congenital malformation associated with high mortality rates, mainly due to pulmonary hypoplasia and persistent pulmonary hypertension following birth. The present study aimed to investigate abnormal lung development in a rat CDH model, and examine temporal and spatial changes in the expression of ephrin type?B receptor 4 (EPHB4) and ephrin?B2 (EFNB2) during fetal lung development, to elucidate the role of these factors during lung morphogenesis. Pregnant rats received nitrofen on embryonic day (E) 8.5 to induce CDH, and fetal lungs were collected on E13.5, E15.5, E17.5, E19.5, and E21.5. The mean linear intercept (MLI) and mean alveolar number (MAN) were observed in fetal lung tissue at E21.5 following hematoxylin and eosin staining. E13.5 fetal lungs were cultured for 96 h in serum?free medium and branch development was observed under a microscope. The gene and protein expression levels of EPHB4 and EFNB2 were assessed by reverse transcription?quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis, and immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry, respectively. The fetal rat lungs were treated with EFNB2 and the activity of key signaling pathways was assessed. The lung index (lung weight/body weight) at E21.5 was significantly lower in the CDH rats, compared with that in the control fetal rats. The MLI and MAN were also lower in the CDH group. The number of lung terminal buds at E13.5 (embryonic stage), and the lung?explant perimeter and surface were all smaller in the CDH group rats than in the control group at the same age. Pulmonary hypoplasia was observed following 96 h of in vitro culture. No significant differences were found in the expression levels of EFNB2 and EPHB4 between the CDH and control groups at E13.5 (embryonic stage) or E15.5 (pseudoglandular stage), however, EFNB2 and EPHB4 were significantly upregulated at E17.5 (canalicular stage), and at E19.5 and E21.5 (saccular/alveolar stages). EFNB2 stimulated pulmonary branching and EFNB2 supplementation decreased the activity of p38, c?Jun NH2?terminal kinase, extracellular signal?regulated kinase, and signal transducer and activator of transcription. The CDH fetal rats developed pulmonary dysplasia at an early stage of fetal pulmonary development. Upregulated expression of EFNB2 and EPHB4 was observed in the rat lung of nitrofen?induced CDH, and the increased expression of EFNB2 promoted rat lung development in the nitrofen?induced CDH model.
Project description:Eph kinases constitute the largest receptor tyrosine kinase family, and their ligands, ephrins (Efns), are also cell surface molecules. Our study is the first to assess the role of Ephb6 in blood pressure (BP) regulation. We observed that EphB6 and all three of its Efnb ligands were expressed on vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in mice. We discovered that small arteries from castrated Ephb6 gene KO males showed increased contractility, RhoA activation, and constitutive myosin light chain phosphorylation ex vivo compared with their WT counterparts. Consistent with this finding, castrated Ephb6 KO mice presented heightened BP compared with castrated WT controls. In vitro experiments in VSMC revealed that cross-linking Efnbs but not Ephb6 resulted in reduced VSMC contractions, suggesting that reverse signaling through Efnbs was responsible for the observed BP phenotype. The reverse signaling was mediated by an adaptor protein Grip1. Additional experiments demonstrated decreased 24-h urine catecholamines in male Ephb6 KO mice, probably as a compensatory feedback mechanism to keep their BP in the normal range. After castration, however, such compensation was abolished in Ephb6 KO mice and was likely the reason why BP increased overtly in these animals. It suggests that Ephb6 has a target in the nervous/endocrine system in addition to VSMC, regulating a testosterone-dependent catecholamine compensatory mechanism. Our study discloses that Ephs and Efns, in concert with testosterone, play a critical role in regulating small artery contractility and BP.
Project description:During blood vessel development, vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMCs) and pericytes (PCs) are recruited to nascent vessels to stabilize them and to guide further vessel remodelling. Here, we show that loss of the focal adhesion (FA) protein alpha-parvin (alpha-pv) in mice leads to embryonic lethality due to severe cardiovascular defects. The vascular abnormalities are characterized by poor vessel remodelling, impaired coverage of endothelial tubes with vSMC/PCs and defective association of the recruited vSMC/PCs with endothelial cells (ECs). Alpha-pv-deficient vSMCs are round and hypercontractile leading either to their accumulation in the tissue or to local vessel constrictions. Because of the high contractility, alpha-pv-deficient vSMCs fail to polarize their cytoskeleton resulting in loss of persistent and directed migration. Mechanistically, the absence of alpha-pv leads to increased RhoA and Rho-kinase (ROCK)-mediated signalling, activation of myosin II and actomyosin hypercontraction in vSMCs. Our findings show that alpha-pv represents an essential adhesion checkpoint that controls RhoA/ROCK-mediated contractility in vSMCs.
Project description:Vascular calcification is highly correlated with cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. Osteoprotegerin (OPG) is a secreted decoy receptor for receptor activator of NF-?B ligand (RANKL). Inactivation of OPG in apolipoprotein E-deficient (ApoE-/-) mice increases lesion size and calcification. The mechanism(s) by which OPG is atheroprotective and anticalcific have not been entirely determined. We investigated whether OPG-deficient vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are more susceptible to mineralization and whether RANKL mediates this process.Lesion-free aortas from 12-week-old ApoE-/-OPG-/- mice had spotty calcification, an appearance of osteochondrogenic factors and a decrease of smooth muscle markers when compared to ApoE-/-OPG+/+ aortas. In osteogenic conditions, VSMCs isolated from ApoE-/-OPG-/- (KO-VSMC) mice deposited more calcium than VSMCs isolated from ApoE-/-OPG+/+ (WT-VSMC) mice. Gene expression and biochemical analysis indicated accelerated osteochondrogenic differentiation. Ablation of RANKL signaling in KO-VSMCs rescued the accelerated calcification. While WT-VSMCs did not respond to RANKL treatment, KO-VSMCs responded with enhanced calcification and the upregulation of osteochondrogenic genes. RANKL strongly induced interleukin 6 (IL-6), which partially mediated RANKL-dependent calcification and gene expression in KO-VSMCs.OPG inhibits vascular calcification by regulating the procalcific effects of RANKL on VSMCs and is thus a possible target for therapeutic intervention.
Project description:Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase 3 (PDE3) is an important regulator of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) signaling within the cardiovascular system. In this study, we examined the role of PDE3A and PDE3B isoforms in regulation of growth of cultured vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and the mechanisms by which they may affect signaling pathways that mediate mitogen-induced VSMC proliferation. Serum- and PDGF-induced DNA synthesis in VSMCs grown from aortas of PDE3A-deficient (3A-KO) mice was markedly less than that in VSMCs from PDE3A wild type (3A-WT) and PDE3B-deficient (3B-KO) mice. The reduced growth response was accompanied by significantly less phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in 3A-KO VSMCs, most likely due to a combination of greater site-specific inhibitory phosphorylation of Raf-1(Ser-²??) by protein kinase A (PKA) and enhanced dephosphorylation of ERKs due to elevated mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase 1 (MKP-1). Furthermore, 3A-KO VSMCs, compared with 3A-WT, exhibited higher basal PKA activity and cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation, higher levels of p53 and p53 phosphorylation, and elevated p21 protein together with lower levels of Cyclin-D1 and retinoblastoma (Rb) protein and Rb phosphorylation. Adenoviral overexpression of inactive CREB partially restored growth effects of serum in 3A-KO VSMCs. In contrast, exposure of 3A-WT VSMCs to VP16 CREB (active CREB) was associated with inhibition of serum-induced DNA synthesis similar to that in untreated 3A-KO VSMCs. Transfection of 3A-KO VSMCs with p53 siRNA reduced p21 and MKP-1 levels and completely restored growth without affecting amounts of Cyclin-D1 and Rb phosphorylation. We conclude that PDE3A regulates VSMC growth via two complementary pathways, i.e. PKA-catalyzed inhibitory phosphorylation of Raf-1 with resulting inhibition of MAPK signaling and PKA/CREB-mediated induction of p21, leading to G?/G? cell cycle arrest, as well as by increased accumulation of p53, which induces MKP-1, p21, and WIP1, leading to inhibition of G? to S cell cycle progression.
Project description:Embryonic vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMCs) have a synthetic phenotype; in adults, they commit to the mature contractile phenotype. Research shows that human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) differentiate into vSMCs, but nobody has yet documented their maturation into the synthetic or contractile phenotypes. This study sought to control the fate decisions of hPSC derivatives to guide their maturation towards a desired phenotype.The long-term differentiation of hPSCs, including the integration-free-induced PSC line, in high serum with platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) and transforming growth factor-?1, allowed us to induce the synthetic vSMC (Syn-vSMC) phenotype with increased extracellular matrix (ECM) protein expression and reduced expression of contractile proteins. By monitoring the expression of two contractile proteins, smooth muscle myosin heavy chain (SMMHC) and elastin, we show that serum starvation and PDGF-BB deprivation caused maturation towards the contractile vSMC (Con-vSMC) phenotype. Con-vSMCs differ distinctively from Syn-vSMC derivatives in their condensed morphology, prominent filamentous arrangement of cytoskeleton proteins, production and assembly of elastin, low proliferation, numerous and active caveolae, enlarged endoplasmic reticulum, and ample stress fibres and bundles, as well as their high contractility. When transplanted subcutaneously into nude mice, the human Con-vSMCs aligned next to the host's growing functional vasculature, with occasional circumferential wrapping and vascular tube narrowing.We control hPSC differentiation into synthetic or contractile phenotypes by using appropriate concentrations of relevant factors. Deriving Con-vSMCs from an integration-free hiPSC line may prove useful for regenerative therapy involving blood vessel differentiation and stabilization.
Project description:ATP2B1 is a gene associated with hypertension. We reported previously that mice lacking ATP2B1 in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC ATP2B1 KO mice) exhibited high blood pressure and increased intracellular calcium concentration. The present study was designed to investigate whether lack of the ATP2B1 gene causes a higher response to calcium channel blockers (CCBs) than to other types of anti-hypertensive drugs. Both VSMC ATP2B1 KO and control mice were administered anti-hypertensive drugs while monitoring blood pressure shifts. We also examined the association of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity in those mice to investigate whether another mechanism of hypertension existed. VSMC ATP2B1 KO mice exhibited significantly greater anti-hypertensive effects with a single injection of nicardipine, but the effects of an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB), an ?-blocker and amlodipine on blood pressure were all similar to control mice. However, long-term treatment with amlodipine, but not an ARB, significantly decreased the blood pressure of KO mice compared with control mice. Both mRNA and protein expression levels of the L-type calcium channel were significantly upregulated in KO VSMCs. There were no alterations in neural NOS protein expression of VSMCs or in urinary NO production between the two groups. VSMC ATP2B1 KO mice had a higher response to CCBs for blood pressure-lowering effects than other anti-hypertensive drugs. These results mean that increased intracellular calcium concentration in VSMCs due to lack of ATP2B1 and subsequent activation of L-type calcium channels mainly affects blood pressure and suggests increased susceptibility to CCBs in this type of hypertension.