Bachelor of Arts, Indiana University, Chemistry (High Distinction) (1992)
Doctor of Medicine, Indiana University (1996)
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of mortality in both developed and developing countries worldwide. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have now identified 46 independent susceptibility loci for CHD, however, the biological and disease-relevant mechanisms for these associations remain elusive. The large-scale meta-analysis of GWAS recently identified in Caucasians a CHD-associated locus at chromosome 6q23.2, a region containing the transcription factor TCF21 gene. TCF21 (Capsulin/Pod1/Epicardin) is a member of the basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor family, and regulates cell fate decisions and differentiation in the developing coronary vasculature. Herein, we characterize a cis-regulatory mechanism by which the lead polymorphism rs12190287 disrupts an atypical activator protein 1 (AP-1) element, as demonstrated by allele-specific transcriptional regulation, transcription factor binding, and chromatin organization, leading to altered TCF21 expression. Further, this element is shown to mediate signaling through platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta (PDGFR-β) and Wilms tumor 1 (WT1) pathways. A second disease allele identified in East Asians also appears to disrupt an AP-1-like element. Thus, both disease-related growth factor and embryonic signaling pathways may regulate CHD risk through two independent alleles at TCF21.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003652
View details for Web of Science ID 000322321100049
View details for PubMedID 23874238
Genomewide association studies have implicated allelic variation at 9p21.3 in multiple forms of vascular disease, including atherosclerotic coronary heart disease and abdominal aortic aneurysm. As for other genes at 9p21.3, human expression quantitative trait locus studies have associated expression of the tumor suppressor gene CDKN2B with the risk haplotype, but its potential role in vascular pathobiology remains unclear.Here we used vascular injury models and found that Cdkn2b knockout mice displayed the expected increase in proliferation after injury, but developed reduced neointimal lesions and larger aortic aneurysms. In situ and in vitro studies suggested that these effects were attributable to increased smooth muscle cell apoptosis. Adoptive bone marrow transplant studies confirmed that the observed effects of Cdkn2b were mediated through intrinsic vascular cells and were not dependent on bone marrow-derived inflammatory cells. Mechanistic studies suggested that the observed increase in apoptosis was attributable to a reduction in MDM2 and an increase in p53 signaling, possibly due in part to compensation by other genes at the 9p21.3 locus. Dual inhibition of both Cdkn2b and p53 led to a reversal of the vascular phenotype in each model.These results suggest that reduced CDKN2B expression and increased smooth muscle cell apoptosis may be one mechanism underlying the 9p21.3 association with aneurysmal disease.
View details for DOI 10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300399
View details for Web of Science ID 000312392500001
View details for PubMedID 23162013
Identification and treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) remains among the most prominent challenges in vascular medicine. MicroRNAs are crucial regulators of cardiovascular pathology and represent possible targets for the inhibition of AAA expansion. We identified microRNA-21 (miR-21) as a key modulator of proliferation and apoptosis of vascular wall smooth muscle cells during development of AAA in two established murine models. In both models (AAA induced by porcine pancreatic elastase or infusion of angiotensin II), miR-21 expression increased as AAA developed. Lentiviral overexpression of miR-21 induced cell proliferation and decreased apoptosis in the aortic wall, with protective effects on aneurysm expansion. miR-21 overexpression substantially decreased expression of the phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) protein, leading to increased phosphorylation and activation of AKT, a component of a pro-proliferative and antiapoptotic pathway. Systemic injection of a locked nucleic acid-modified antagomir targeting miR-21 diminished the pro-proliferative impact of down-regulated PTEN, leading to a marked increase in the size of AAA. Similar results were seen in mice with AAA augmented by nicotine and in human aortic tissue samples from patients undergoing surgical repair of AAA (with more pronounced effects observed in smokers). Modulation of miR-21 expression shows potential as a new therapeutic option to limit AAA expansion and vascular disease progression.
View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003441
View details for Web of Science ID 000300952100004
View details for PubMedID 22357537
MicroRNAs (miRs) regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level and play crucial roles in vascular integrity. As such, they may have a role in modifying abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) expansion, the pathophysiological mechanisms of which remain incompletely explored. Here, we investigate the role of miRs in 2 murine models of experimental AAA: the porcine pancreatic elastase (PPE) infusion model in C57BL/6 mice and the AngII infusion model in Apoe-/- mice. AAA development was accompanied by decreased aortic expression of miR-29b, along with increased expression of known miR-29b targets, Col1a1, Col3a1, Col5a1, and Eln, in both models. In vivo administration of locked nucleic acid anti-miR-29b greatly increased collagen expression, leading to an early fibrotic response in the abdominal aortic wall and resulting in a significant reduction in AAA progression over time in both models. In contrast, overexpression of miR-29b using a lentiviral vector led to augmented AAA expansion and significant increase of aortic rupture rate. Cell culture studies identified aortic fibroblasts as the likely vascular cell type mediating the profibrotic effects of miR-29b modulation. A similar pattern of reduced miR-29b expression and increased target gene expression was observed in human AAA tissue samples compared with that in organ donor controls. These data suggest that therapeutic manipulation of miR-29b and its target genes holds promise for limiting AAA disease progression and protecting from rupture.
View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI61598
View details for Web of Science ID 000299765800016
View details for PubMedID 22269326
Aberrant smooth muscle cell (SMC) plasticity has been implicated in a variety of vascular disorders including atherosclerosis, restenosis, and abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) formation. While the pathways governing this process remain unclear, epigenetic regulation by specific microRNAs (miRNAs) has been demonstrated in SMCs. We hypothesized that additional miRNAs might play an important role in determining vascular SMC phenotype. Microarray analysis of miRNAs was performed on human aortic SMCs undergoing phenotypic switching in response to serum withdrawal, and identified 31 significantly regulated entities. We chose the highly conserved candidate miRNA-26a for additional studies. Inhibition of miRNA-26a accelerated SMC differentiation, and also promoted apoptosis, while inhibiting proliferation and migration. Overexpression of miRNA-26a blunted differentiation. As a potential mechanism, we investigated whether miRNA-26a influences TGF-?-pathway signaling. Dual-luciferase reporter assays demonstrated enhanced SMAD signaling with miRNA-26a inhibition, and the opposite effect with miRNA-26a overexpression in transfected human cells. Furthermore, inhibition of miRNA-26a increased gene expression of SMAD-1 and SMAD-4, while overexpression inhibited SMAD-1. MicroRNA-26a was also found to be downregulated in two mouse models of AAA formation (2.5- to 3.8-fold decrease, P?0.02) in which enhanced switching from contractile to synthetic phenotype occurs. In summary, miRNA-26a promotes vascular SMC proliferation while inhibiting cellular differentiation and apoptosis, and alters TGF-? pathway signaling. MicroRNA-26a represents an important new regulator of SMC biology and a potential therapeutic target in AAA disease.
View details for DOI 10.1002/jcp.22422
View details for Web of Science ID 000287258800019
View details for PubMedID 20857419