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
Cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death in the United States. Two factors associated with a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease are elevated HDL levels and sex — specifically, a decreased risk is found in premenopausal women. HDL and estrogen stimulate eNOS and the production of nitric oxide, which has numerous protective effects in the vascular system including vasodilation, antiadhesion, and anti-inflammatory effects. We tested the hypothesis that HDL binds to its receptor, scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI), and delivers estrogen to eNOS, thereby stimulating the enzyme. HDL isolated from women stimulated eNOS, whereas HDL isolated from men had minimal activity. Studies with ovariectomized and ovariectomized/estrogen replacement mouse models demonstrated that HDL-associated estradiol stimulation of eNOS is SR-BI dependent. Furthermore, female HDL, but not male HDL, promoted the relaxation of muscle strips isolated from C57BL/6 mice but not SR-BI null mice. Finally, HDL isolated from premenopausal women or postmenopausal women receiving estradiol replacement therapy stimulated eNOS, whereas HDL isolated from postmenopausal women did not stimulate eNOS. We conclude that HDL-associated estrodial is capable of the stimulating eNOS. These studies establish a new paradigm for examining the cardiovascular effects of HDL and estrogen.
Ming Gong, Melinda Wilson, Thomas Kelly, Wen Su, James Dressman, Jeanie Kincer, Sergey V. Matveev, Ling Guo, Theresa Guerin, Xiang-An Li, Weifei Zhu, Annette Uittenbogaard, Eric J. Smart
Cardiac hypertrophy is a common and often lethal complication of arterial hypertension. Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) has been postulated to exert local antihypertrophic effects in the heart. Thus, a loss of function of the ANP receptor guanylyl cyclase-A (GC-A) might contribute to the increased propensity to cardiac hypertrophy, although a causative role in vivo has not been definitively demonstrated. To test whether local ANP modulates cardiomyocyte growth, we inactivated the GC-A gene selectively in cardiomyocytes by homologous loxP/Cre-mediated recombination. Thereby we have circumvented the systemic, hypertensive phenotype associated with germline inactivation of GC-A. Mice with cardiomyocyte-restricted GC-A deletion exhibited mild cardiac hypertrophy, markedly increased mRNA expression of cardiac hypertrophy markers such as ANP (fivefold), α-skeletal actin (1.7-fold), and β-myosin heavy chain (twofold), and increased systemic circulating ANP levels. Their blood pressure was 7–10 mmHg below normal, probably because of the elevated systemic levels and endocrine actions of ANP. Furthermore, cardiac hypertrophic responses to aortic constriction were enhanced and accompanied by marked deterioration of cardiac function. This phenotype is consistent with a local function of the ANP/GC-A system to moderate the molecular program of cardiac hypertrophy.
Rita Holtwick, Martin van Eickels, Boris V. Skryabin, Hideo A. Baba, Alexander Bubikat, Frank Begrow, Michael D. Schneider, David L. Garbers, Michaela Kuhn
The chemokine receptor CX3CR1 is a proinflammatory leukocyte receptor specific for the chemokine fractalkine (FKN or CX3CL1). In two retrospective studies, CX3CR1 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) based on statistical association of a common receptor variant named CX3CR1-M280 with lower prevalence of atherosclerosis, coronary endothelial dysfunction, and acute coronary syndromes. However, the general significance of CX3CR1-M280 and its putative mechanism of action have not previously been defined. Here we show that FKN-dependent cell-cell adhesion under conditions of physiologic shear is severely reduced in cells expressing CX3CR1-M280. This was associated with marked reduction in the kinetics of FKN binding as well as reduced FKN-induced chemotaxis of primary leukocytes from donors homozygous for CX3CR1-M280. We also show that CX3CR1-M280 is independently associated with a lower risk of CVD (adjusted odds ratio, 0.60, P = 0.008) in the Offspring Cohort of the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term prospective study of the risks and natural history of this disease. These data provide mechanism-based and consistent epidemiologic evidence that CX3CR1 may be involved in the pathogenesis of CVD in humans, possibly by supporting leukocyte entry into the coronary artery wall. Moreover, they suggest that CX3CR1-M280 is a genetic risk factor for CVD.
David H. McDermott, Alan M. Fong, Qiong Yang, Joan M. Sechler, L. Adrienne Cupples, Maya N. Merrell, Peter W.F. Wilson, Ralph B. D’Agostino, Christopher J. O’Donnell, Dhavalkumar D. Patel, Philip M. Murphy
Scott P. Heximer, Russell H. Knutsen, Xiaoguang Sun, Kevin M. Kaltenbronn, Man-Hee Rhee, Ning Peng, Antonio Oliveira-dos-Santos, Josef M. Penninger, Anthony J. Muslin, Thomas H. Steinberg, J. Michael Wyss, Robert P. Mecham, Kendall J. Blumer
Pseudohypoaldosteronism type II (PHAII) is an autosomal dominant disorder of hyperkalemia and hypertension. Mutations in two members of the WNK kinase family, WNK1 and WNK4, cause the disease. WNK1 mutations are believed to increase WNK1 expression; the effect of WNK4 mutations remains unknown. The clinical phenotype of PHAII is opposite to Gitelman syndrome, a disease caused by dysfunction of the thiazide-sensitive Na-Cl cotransporter. We tested the hypothesis that WNK kinases regulate the mammalian thiazide-sensitive Na-Cl cotransporter (NCC). Mouse WNK4 was cloned and expressed in Xenopus oocytes with or without NCC. Coexpression with WNK4 suppressed NCC activity by more than 85%. This effect did not result from defects in NCC synthesis or processing, but was associated with an 85% reduction in NCC abundance at the plasma membrane. Unlike WNK4, WNK1 did not affect NCC activity directly. WNK1, however, completely prevented WNK4 inhibition of NCC. Some WNK4 mutations that cause PHAII retained NCC-inhibiting activity, but the Q562E WNK4 demonstrated diminished activity, suggesting that some PHAII mutations lead to loss of NCC inhibition. Gain-of-function WNK1 mutations would be expected to inhibit WNK4 activity, thereby activating NCC, contributing to the PHAII phenotype. Together, these results identify WNK kinases as a previously unrecognized sodium regulatory pathway of the distal nephron. This pathway likely contributes to normal and pathological blood pressure homeostasis.
Chao-Ling Yang, Jordan Angell, Rose Mitchell, David H. Ellison