MEF2B-Nox1 Signaling Is Critical for Stretch-Induced Phenotypic Modulation of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells
Objective—Blood vessel hemodynamics has profound influences on function and structure of vascular cells. One of the main mechanical forces influencing vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) is cyclic stretch (CS). Increased CS stimulates reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in VSMC, leading to their dedifferentiation, yet the mechanisms involved are poorly understood. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that pathological CS stimulates NADPH oxidase isoform 1 (Nox1)–derived ROS via MEF2B, leading to VSMC dysfunction via a switch from a contractile to a synthetic phenotype.
Approach and Results—Using a newly developed isoform-specific Nox1 inhibitor and gene silencing technology, we demonstrate that a novel pathway, including MEF2B-Nox1-ROS, is upregulated under pathological stretch conditions, and this pathway promotes a VSMC phenotypic switch from a contractile to a synthetic phenotype. We observed that CS (10% at 1 Hz) mimicking systemic hypertension in humans increased Nox1 mRNA, protein levels, and enzymatic activity in a time-dependent manner, and this upregulation was mediated by MEF2B. Furthermore, we show that stretch-induced Nox1-derived ROS upregulated a specific marker for synthetic phenotype (osteopontin), in the mean time downregulating classical markers for contractile phenotype (calponin1 and smoothelin B). In addition, our data demonstrated that stretch-induced Nox1 activation decreases actin fiber density and augments matrix metalloproteinase 9 activity, VSMC migration, and vectorial alignment.
Conclusions—These results suggest that CS initiates a signal through MEF2B that potentiates Nox1-mediated ROS production and causes VSMC to switch to a synthetic phenotype. The data also characterize a new Nox1 inhibitor as a potential therapy for treatment of vascular dysfunction in hypertension.
- Received April 22, 2013.
- Accepted December 4, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.