ABSTRACT: Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in normal blood vessels exist in a highly differentiate state characterized by expression of SMC-specific contractile proteins ("contractile phenotype"). Following blood vessel injury in vivo or when cultured in vitro in the presence of multiple growth factors, SMC undergo a phenotype switch characterized by the loss of contractile markers and appearance of expression of non-muscle proteins ("proliferative phenotype"). While a number of factors have been reported to modulate this process, its regulation remains uncertain. Here we show that induction of SMC FGF signaling inhibits TGF? signaling and converts contractile SMCs to the proliferative phenotype. Conversely, inhibition of SMC FGF signaling induces TGF? signaling converting proliferating SMCs to the contractile phenotype, even in the presence of various growth factors in vitro or vascular injury in vivo. The importance of this signaling cross-talk is supported by in vivo data that show that an SMC deletion of a pan-FGF receptor adaptor Frs2? (fibroblast growth factor receptor substrate 2 alpha) in mice profoundly reduces neointima formation and vascular remodelling following carotid artery ligation. These results demonstrate that FGF-TGF? signaling antagonism is the primary regulator of the SMC phenotype switch. Manipulation of this cross-talk may be an effective strategy for treatment of SMC-proliferation related diseases.
Project description:The conversion of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) from contractile to proliferative phenotype is thought to play an important role in atherosclerosis. However, the contribution of this process to plaque growth has never been fully defined. In this study, we show that activation of SMC TGF? signaling, achieved by suppression of SMC fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling input, induces their conversion to a contractile phenotype and dramatically reduces atherosclerotic plaque size. The FGF/TGF? signaling cross talk was observed in vitro and in vivo In vitro, inhibition of FGF signaling increased TGF? activity, thereby promoting smooth muscle differentiation and decreasing proliferation. In vivo, smooth muscle-specific knockout of an FGF receptor adaptor Frs2? led to a profound inhibition of atherosclerotic plaque growth when these animals were crossed on Apoe(-/-) background and subjected to a high-fat diet. In particular, there was a significant reduction in plaque cellularity, increase in fibrous cap area, and decrease in necrotic core size. In agreement with these findings, examination of human coronary arteries with various degrees of atherosclerosis revealed a strong correlation between the activation of FGF signaling, loss of TGF? activity, and increased disease severity. These results identify SMC FGF/TGF? signaling cross talk as an important regulator of SMC phenotype switch and document a major contribution of medial SMC proliferation to atherosclerotic plaque growth.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>The objective of this study is to determine the role of SPA (surfactant protein A) in vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) phenotypic modulation and vascular remodeling. Approach and Results: PDGF-BB (Platelet-derived growth factor-BB) and serum induced SPA expression while downregulating SMC marker gene expression in SMCs. SPA deficiency increased the contractile protein expression. Mechanistically, SPA deficiency enhanced the expression of myocardin and TGF (transforming growth factor)-β, the key regulators for contractile SMC phenotype. In vivo, SPA was induced in medial and neointimal SMCs following mechanical injury in both rat and mouse carotid arteries. SPA knockout in mice dramatically attenuated the wire injury-induced intimal hyperplasia while restoring SMC contractile protein expression in medial SMCs. These data indicate that SPA plays an important role in SMC phenotype modulation and vascular remodeling in vivo.<h4>Conclusions</h4>SPA is a novel protein factor modulating SMC phenotype. Blocking the abnormal elevation of SPA may be a potential strategy to inhibit the development of proliferative vascular diseases.
Project description:Smooth Muscle Cells (SMC) are unique amongst all muscle cells in their capacity to modulate their phenotype. Indeed, SMCs do not terminally differentiate but instead harbour a remarkable capacity to dedifferentiate, switching between a quiescent contractile state and a highly proliferative and migratory phenotype, a quality often associated to SMC dysfunction. However, phenotypic plasticity remains poorly examined in the field of gastroenterology in particular in pathologies in which gut motor activity is impaired. Here, we assessed SMC status in biopsies of infants with chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIPO) syndrome, a life-threatening intestinal motility disorder. We showed that CIPO-SMCs harbour a decreased level of contractile markers. This phenotype is accompanied by an increase in Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor-alpha (PDGFRA) expression. We showed that this modulation occurs without origin-related differences in CIPO circular and longitudinal-derived SMCs. As we characterized PDGFRA as a marker of digestive mesenchymal progenitors during embryogenesis, our results suggest a phenotypic switch of the CIPO-SMC towards an undifferentiated stage. The development of CIPO-SMC culture and the characterization of SMC phenotypic switch should enable us to design therapeutic approaches to promote SMC differentiation in CIPO.
Project description:Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) play critical roles in a number of diseases; however, the molecular mechanism underlying their development is unclear. Although the role of TGF?1 signaling in SMC development is well established, the downstream molecular signals are not fully understood. We used several rat multipotent adult progenitor cell ((r)MAPC) lines that express levels of Oct4 mRNA similar to hypoblast stem cells (HypoSC), and can differentiate robustly to mesodermal and endodermal cell types. TGF?1 alone, or with PDGF-BB, induces differentiation of rMAPCs to SMCs, which expressed structural SMC proteins, including ?-smooth muscle actin (?SMA), and contribute to the SMC coat of blood vessels in vivo. A genome-wide time-course transcriptome analysis revealed that transcripts of Baf60c, part of the SWI/SNF actin binding chromatin remodeling complex D-3 (SMARCD3/BAF60c), were significantly induced during MAPC-SMC differentiation. We demonstrated that BAF60c is a necessary co-regulator of TGF?1 mediated induction of SMC genes. Knock-down of Baf60c decreased SMC gene expression in rMAPCs whereas ectopic expression of Baf60c was sufficient to commit rMAPCs to SMCs in the absence of exogenous cytokines. TGF?1 activates Baf60c via the direct binding of SMAD2/3 complexes to the Baf60c promoter region. Chromatin- and co-immunoprecipitation studies demonstrated that regulation of SMC genes by BAF60c is mediated via interaction with SRF binding CArG box-containing promoter elements in SMC genes. We noted that compared with TGF?1, Baf60c overexpression in rMAPC yielded SMC with a more immature phenotype. Similarly, Baf60c induced an immature phenotype in rat aortic SMCs marked by increased cell proliferation and decreased contractile marker expression. Thus, Baf60c is important for TGF?-mediated commitment of primitive stem cells (rMAPCs) to SMCs and is associated with induction of a proliferative state of quiescent SMCs. The MAPC-SMC differentiation system may be useful for identification of additional critical (co-)regulators of SMC development.
Project description:Transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) signaling is critical for the differentiation of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) into quiescent cells expressing a full repertoire of contractile proteins. Heterozygous mutations in TGF-? receptor type II (TGFBR2) disrupt TGF-? signaling and lead to genetic conditions that predispose to thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections (TAADs). The aim of this study is to determine the molecular mechanism by which TGFBR2 mutations cause TAADs.Using aortic SMCs explanted from patients with TGFBR2 mutations, we show decreased expression of SMC contractile proteins compared with controls. Exposure to TGF-?1 fails to increase expression of contractile genes in mutant SMCs, whereas control cells further increase expression of these genes. Analysis of fixed and frozen aortas from patients with TGFBR2 mutations confirms decreased in vivo expression of contractile proteins relative to unaffected aortas. Fibroblasts explanted from patients with TGFBR2 mutations fail to transform into mature myofibroblasts with TGF-?1 stimulation as assessed by expression of contractile proteins.These data support the conclusion that heterozygous TGFBR2 mutations lead to decreased expression of SMC contractile protein in both SMCs and myofibroblasts. The failure of TGFBR2-mutant SMCs to fully express SMC contractile proteins predicts defective contractile function in these cells and aligns with a hypothesis that defective SMC contractile function contributes to the pathogenesis of TAAD.
Project description:Laminin of different cellular sources has distinct functions. In addition to vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs), aorta also contains a small population of nestin(+) cells, whose function remains unknown. This study investigates the role of SMC- and nestin(+) cell-derived laminin in blood pressure (BP) regulation and SMC contractibility. Using mice with laminin deficiency in SMCs (SKO) or nestin(+) cells (NKO), we examined laminin-dependent changes in BP. Contractile protein expression was reduced in SKO but not NKO mice, consistent with their, respectively, low and normal baseline BP measurements. At the ultrastructural level, SKO SMCs maintained the contractile phenotype with reduced elasticity, whereas NKO SMCs switched to the synthetic phenotype and showed degeneration. Additionally, angiotensin II (Ang II) significantly increased BP in SKO but not NKO mice. It also enhanced contractile proteins to the same levels and induced SMC degeneration in both knockout mice. These data suggest that SMC laminin regulates BP via modulating contractile protein expression, whereas nestin(+) cell-derived laminin contributes to SMC phenotypic switch.
Project description:Contractile to synthetic phenotypic switching of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) contributes to stenosis in vascular disease and vascular transplants. To generate more contractile SMCs, we performed a high-throughput differentiation screen using a MYH11-NLuc-tdTomato human embryonic stem cell reporter cell line. We identified RepSox as a factor that promotes differentiation of MYH11-positive cells by promoting NOTCH signaling. RepSox induces SMCs to exhibit a more contractile phenotype than SMCs generated using PDGF-BB and TGF-β1, two factors previously used for SMC differentiation but which also cause intimal hyperplasia. In addition, RepSox inhibited intimal hyperplasia caused by contractile to synthetic phenotypic switching of SMCs in a rat balloon injury model. Thus, in addition to providing more contractile SMCs that could prove useful for constructing artificial blood vessels, this study suggests a strategy for identifying drugs for inhibiting intimal hyperplasia that act by driving contractile differentiation rather than inhibiting proliferation non-specifically.
Project description:Tissue-engineered blood vessels (TEBVs) are promising in the replacement of diseased vascular tissues. However, it remains a great challenge to obtain a sufficient number of functional smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in a clinical setting to construct patient-specific TEBVs. In addition, it is critical to develop a scaffold to accommodate these cells and retain their functional phenotype for the regeneration of TEBVs. In this study, human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) were established from primary human aortic fibroblasts, and characterized with the pluripotency markers expression and cells' capabilities to differentiate into all three germ layer cells. A highly efficient method was then developed to induce these human iPSCs into proliferative SMCs. After multiple times of expansion, the expanded SMCs retained the potential to be induced into the functional contractile phenotype of mature SMCs, which was characterized by the contractile response to carbachol treatment, up-regulation of specific collagen genes under transforming growth factor ?1 treatment, and up-regulation of specific matrix metalloproteinase genes under cytokine stimulation. We also developed an advanced macroporous and nanofibrous (NF) poly(l-lactic acid) (PLLA) scaffold with suitable pore size and interpore connectivity to seed these human iPSC-derived SMCs and maintain their differentiated phenotype. Subcutaneous implantation of the SMC-scaffold construct in nude mice demonstrated vascular tissue formation, with robust collagenous matrix deposition inside the scaffold and the maintenance of differentiated SMC phenotype. Taken together, this study established an exciting approach towards the construction of patient-specific TEBVs. We established patient-specific human iPSCs, derived proliferative SMCs for expansion, turned on their mature contractile SMC phenotype, and developed an advanced scaffold for these cells to regenerate vascular tissue in vivo.
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:Smooth muscle alpha-actin (SMA) is a marker for the contractile, non-proliferative phenotype of adult smooth muscle cells (SMCs). Upon arterial injury, expression of SMA and other structural proteins decreases and SMCs acquire a pro-migratory and proliferative phenotype. To what extent SMA regulates migration and proliferation of SMCs is unclear and putative signaling pathways involved remain to be elucidated. Here, we used lentiviral-mediated gene transfer and siRNA technology to manipulate expression of SMA in carotid mouse SMCs and studied effects of SMA. Overexpression of SMA results in decreased proliferation and migration and blunts serum-induced activation of the small GTPase Rac, but not RhoA. All inhibitory effects of SMA are rescued by expression of a constitutively active Rac1 mutant (V12rac1). Moreover, reduction of SMA expression by siRNA technology results in an increased activation of Rac. Taken together, this study identifies Rac1 as a downstream target for SMA to inhibit SMC proliferation and migration.