Big mitogen-activated protein kinase 1 (BMK1), also known as ERK5, is a member of the MAPK family. Genetic ablation of BMK1 in mice leads to embryonic lethality, precluding the exploration of pathophysiological roles of BMK1 in adult mice. We generated a BMK1 conditional mutation in mice in which disruption of the BMK1 gene is under the control of the inducible Mx1-Cre transgene. Ablation of BMK1 in adult mice led to lethality within 2–4 weeks after the induction of Cre recombinase. Physiological analysis showed that the blood vessels became abnormally leaky after deletion of the BMK1 gene. Histological analysis revealed that, after BMK1 ablation, hemorrhages occurred in multiple organs in which endothelial cells lining the blood vessels became round, irregularly aligned, and, eventually, apoptotic. In vitro removal of BMK1 protein also led to the death of endothelial cells partially due to the deregulation of transcriptional factor MEF2C, which is a direct substrate of BMK1. Additionally, endothelial-specific BMK1-KO leads to cardiovascular defects identical to that of global BMK1-KO mutants, whereas, surprisingly, mice lacking BMK1 in cardiomyocytes developed to term without any apparent defects. Taken together, the data provide direct genetic evidence that the BMK1 pathway is critical for endothelial function and for maintaining blood vessel integrity.
Masaaki Hayashi, Sung-Woo Kim, Kyoko Imanaka-Yoshida, Toshimichi Yoshida, E. Dale Abel, Brian Eliceiri, Young Yang, Richard J. Ulevitch, Jiing-Dwan Lee
The endothelium plays an important role in maintaining vascular homeostasis by synthesizing and releasing several vasodilating factors, including prostacyclin, NO, and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF). We have recently identified that endothelium-derived H2O2 is an EDHF in mesenteric arteries of mice and humans and in porcine coronary microvessels. However, the mechanism for the endothelial production of H2O2 as an EDHF remains to be elucidated. In this study, we tested our hypothesis that Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (Cu,Zn-SOD) plays a pivotal role in endothelium-dependent hyperpolarization, using control and Cu,Zn-SOD–/– mice. In mesenteric arteries, EDHF-mediated relaxations and hyperpolarizations were significantly reduced in Cu,Zn-SOD–/– mice with no inhibitory effect of catalase, while endothelium-independent relaxations and hyperpolarizations were preserved. Endothelial H2O2 production also was significantly reduced in Cu,Zn-SOD–/– mice. In Langendorff isolated heart, bradykinin-induced increase in coronary flow was significantly reduced in Cu,Zn-SOD–/– mice, again with no inhibitory effect of catalase. The exogenous SOD mimetic tempol significantly improved EDHF-mediated relaxations and hyperpolarizations and coronary flow response in Cu,Zn-SOD–/– mice. These results prove the novel concept that endothelial Cu,Zn-SOD plays an important role as an “EDHF synthase” in mice, in addition to its classical role to scavenge superoxide anions.
Keiko Morikawa, Hiroaki Shimokawa, Tetsuya Matoba, Hiroshi Kubota, Takaaki Akaike, M.A. Hassan Talukder, Makoto Hatanaka, Takako Fujiki, Hiroshi Maeda, Shosuke Takahashi, Akira Takeshita
Chronic hypoxia induces pulmonary vascular remodeling, leading to pulmonary hypertension, right ventricular hypertrophy, and heart failure. Heterozygous deficiency of hypoxia-inducible factor–1α (HIF-1α), which mediates the cellular response to hypoxia by increasing expression of genes involved in erythropoiesis and angiogenesis, has been previously shown to delay hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension. HIF-2α is a homologue of HIF-1α and is abundantly expressed in the lung, but its role in pulmonary hypertension remains unknown. Therefore, we analyzed the pulmonary response of WT and viable heterozygous HIF-2α–deficient (Hif2α+/–) mice after exposure to 10% O2 for 4 weeks. In contrast to WT mice, Hif2α+/– mice were fully protected against pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular hypertrophy, unveiling a critical role of HIF-2α in hypoxia-induced pulmonary vascular remodeling. Pulmonary expression levels of endothelin-1 and plasma catecholamine levels were increased threefold and 12-fold respectively in WT but not in Hif2α+/– mice after hypoxia, suggesting that HIF-2α–mediated upregulation of these vasoconstrictors contributes to the development of hypoxic pulmonary vascular remodeling.
Koen Brusselmans, Veerle Compernolle, Marc Tjwa, Michael S. Wiesener, Patrick H. Maxwell, Désiré Collen, Peter Carmeliet
Insulin receptors (IRs) on vascular endothelial cells have been suggested to participate in insulin-regulated glucose homeostasis. To directly address the role of insulin action in endothelial function, we have generated a vascular endothelial cell IR knockout (VENIRKO) mouse using the Cre-loxP system. Cultured endothelium of VENIRKO mice exhibited complete rearrangement of the IR gene and a more than 95% decrease in IR mRNA. VENIRKO mice were born at the expected Mendelian ratio, grew normally, were fertile, and exhibited normal patterns of vasculature in the retina and other tissues. Glucose homeostasis under basal condition was comparable in VENIRKO mice. Both eNOS and endothelin-1 mRNA levels, however, were reduced by approximately 30–60% in endothelial cells, aorta, and heart, while vascular EGF expression was maintained at normal levels. Arterial pressure tended to be lower in VENIRKO mice on both low- and high-salt diets, and on a low-salt diet VENIRKO mice showed insulin resistance. Thus, inactivation of the IR on endothelial cell has no major consequences on vascular development or glucose homeostasis under basal conditions, but alters expression of vasoactive mediators and may play a role in maintaining vascular tone and regulation of insulin sensitivity to dietary salt intake.
David Vicent, Jacob Ilany, Tatsuya Kondo, Keiko Naruse, Simon J. Fisher, Yaz Y. Kisanuki, Sven Bursell, Masashi Yanagisawa, George L. King, C. Ronald Kahn
Tetrahydrobiopterin is a critical cofactor for the NO synthases, and in its absence these enzymes become “uncoupled,” producing reactive oxygen species (ROSs) rather than NO. In aortas of mice with deoxycorticosterone acetate–salt (DOCA-salt) hypertension, ROS production from NO synthase is markedly increased, and tetrahydrobiopterin oxidation is evident. Using mice deficient in the NADPH oxidase subunit p47phox and mice lacking either the endothelial or neuronal NO synthase, we obtained evidence that hypertension produces a cascade involving production of ROSs from the NADPH oxidase leading to oxidation of tetrahydrobiopterin and uncoupling of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS). This decreases NO production and increases ROS production from eNOS. Treatment of mice with oral tetrahydrobiopterin reduces vascular ROS production, increases NO production as determined by electron spin resonance measurements of nitrosyl hemoglobin, and blunts the increase in blood pressure due to DOCA-salt hypertension. Endothelium-dependent vasodilation is only minimally altered in vessels of mice with DOCA-salt hypertension but seems to be mediated by hydrogen peroxide released from uncoupled eNOS, since it is inhibited by catalase. Tetrahydrobiopterin oxidation may represent an important abnormality in hypertension. Treatment strategies that increase tetrahydrobiopterin or prevent its oxidation may prove useful in preventing vascular complications of this common disease.
Ulf Landmesser, Sergey Dikalov, S. Russ Price, Louise McCann, Tohru Fukai, Steven M. Holland, William E. Mitch, David G. Harrison
Human atherosclerotic lesions overexpress the lysosomal cysteine protease cathepsin S (Cat S), one of the most potent mammalian elastases known. In contrast, atheromata have low levels of the endogenous Cat S inhibitor cystatin C compared with normal arteries, suggesting involvement of this protease in atherogenesis. The present study tested this hypothesis directly by crossing Cat S–deficient (CatS–/–) mice with LDL receptor–deficient (LDLR–/–) mice that develop atherosclerosis on a high-cholesterol diet. Compared with LDLR–/– mice, double-knockout mice (CatS–/–LDLR–/–) developed significantly less atherosclerosis, as indicated by plaque size (plaque area and intimal thickening) and stage of development. These mice also had markedly reduced content of intimal macrophages, lipids, smooth muscle cells, collagen, CD4+ T lymphocytes, and levels of IFN-γ. CatS–/–LDLR–/– monocytes showed impaired subendothelial basement membrane transmigration, and aortas from CatS–/–LDLR–/– mice had preserved elastic laminae. These findings establish a pivotal role for Cat S in atherogenesis.
Galina K. Sukhova, Yaou Zhang, Jie-Hong Pan, Youichiro Wada, Takashi Yamamoto, Makoto Naito, Tatsuhiko Kodama, Sotirios Tsimikas, Joseph L. Witztum, Michael L. Lu, Yasuhiko Sakara, Michael T. Chin, Peter Libby, Guo-Ping Shi
The hallmark of early atherosclerosis is the accumulation of lipid-laden macrophages in the subendothelial space. Circulating monocytes are the precursors of these “foam cells,” and recent evidence suggests that chemokines play important roles in directing monocyte migration from the blood to the vessel wall. Fractalkine (FK) is a structurally unusual chemokine that can act either as a soluble chemotactic factor or as a transmembrane-anchored adhesion receptor for circulating leukocytes. A polymorphism in the FK receptor, CX3CR1, has been linked to a decrease in the incidence of coronary artery disease. To determine whether FK is critically involved in atherogenesis, we deleted the gene for CX3CR1 and crossed these mice into the apoE–/– background. Here we report that FK is robustly expressed in lesional smooth muscle cells, but not macrophages, in apoE–/– mice on a high-fat diet. CX3CR1–/– mice have a significant reduction in macrophage recruitment to the vessel wall and decreased atherosclerotic lesion formation. Taken together, these data provide strong evidence that FK plays a key role in atherogenesis.
Philippe Lesnik, Christopher A. Haskell, Israel F. Charo
The adhesion receptors known as integrins perform key functions for hematopoietic cells. The platelet integrin αIIbβ3 is critical in hemostasis, and the β1 and β2 integrins on leukocytes have many roles in cell-mediated immunity. Mutations in the β2 subunit lead to integrin nonexpression and to an immune deficiency, leukocyte adhesion deficiency-1. Mutations in either the α or β subunit of αIIbβ3 usually lead to integrin nonexpression and a bleeding tendency termed Glanzmann thrombasthenia. Here we describe a unique patient with clinical features of both Glanzmann thrombasthenia and leukocyte adhesion deficiency-1. The patient has normal expression of β1, β2, and β3 integrins, but all are dysfunctional. The key findings are that “inside-out” signaling pathways leading to integrin activation are defective and that this is associated with abnormal integrin clustering. The integrins themselves are intact and capable of function following extracellular stimulation. T cell motility is normal, as are the expression levels and electrophoretic characteristics of all cytoskeletal and signaling proteins tested, except PKC-α, which has enhanced expression in the patient’s cells. To our knowledge, this is the first description of a dysfunction affecting three classes of integrins. We propose that it is caused by a lesion in an intracellular factor or signaling pathway essential for integrin activation in hematopoietic cells and results in lack of regulation of clustering, an essential component of integrin-mediated adhesion.
Alison McDowall, David Inwald, Birgit Leitinger, Alison Jones, Ri Liesner, Nigel Klein, Nancy Hogg
Florian P. Limbourg, Zhihong Huang, Jean-Christophe Plumier, Tommaso Simoncini, Masayuki Fujioka, Jan Tuckermann, Günther Schütz, Michael A. Moskowitz, James K. Liao
Carmen M. Swaisgood, Detlef Schmitt, Dan Eaton, Edward F. Plow