Roles of activation transcription factor 4 (ATF4) and YrdC in the response of vascular smooth muscle cells to injury

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Copyright: Malabanan, Kristine Paz
Neointimal proliferation is a key process underlying many cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and angioplasty-induced restenosis. Vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) are significant contributors to the development and stability of the neointimal lesion. This is due, in part, to their capacity to be phenotypically modulated, facilitating SMC proliferation in response to mechanical injury, their subsequent migration, and deposition of extracellular matrix. The aim of this thesis was to characterize the function of two genes identified in our laboratory to be upregulated shortly after mechanical injury of vascular SMC and their exposure to fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2, an injury-induced cytokine. The first is activation transcription factor (ATF) 4, which is upregulated by FGF-2 and mechanical injury in vascular SMC in vitro, and by balloon-injury in the artery wall. The induction of ATF4 by FGF-2 was shown to be mediated through the PI3K pathway, and preceded by phoshorylation of eIF2alpha, a known upstream effector of ATF4 activation. Knock-down of ATF4 expression inhibited balloon-injury induced neointimal hyperplasia, suggesting that ATF4 is a key player in the SMC response to injury. Furthermore, microarray analysis identified several genes whose transcription in response to FGF-2 may be regulated by ATF4. In particular, this work demonstrates that ATF4 is necessary for VEGF-A upregulation in SMC in response to FGF-2 and mechanical injury in vitro and in the artery wall following balloon-injury. The second is a translation factor, YrdC203. Using confocal fluorescence microscopy, YrdC203 was found to localize partially to the ER, and with RPL12, a component of the 60S ribosomal subunit. Immunoprecipitation studies demonstrate that YrdC203 also interacts with an initiation factor, eIF5B. Mutation of an initiation factor’s signature on the exterior of YrdC203 perturbed its interaction with RPL12 and eIF5B, and inhibited the increase in protein synthesis observed with overexpression of YrdC203. This implicates YrdC203 as a translation factor responsible for ensuring protein synthesis in vascular SMC in response to injury. The present work provides evidence for new molecular mechanisms, transcriptional and translational, regulating the response of vascular SMC to injury. This would provide leads for future therapeutic targets.
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Malabanan, Kristine Paz
Khachigian, Levon Michael
Chesterman, Colin
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PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty
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