TCF21 and the environmental sensor aryl-hydrocarbon receptor cooperate to activate a pro-inflammatory gene expression program in coronary artery smooth muscle cells.
2017; 13 (5)
Both environmental factors and genetic loci have been associated with coronary artery disease (CAD), however gene-gene and gene-environment interactions that might identify molecular mechanisms of risk are not easily studied by human genetic approaches. We have previously identified the transcription factor TCF21 as the causal CAD gene at 6q23.2 and characterized its downstream transcriptional network that is enriched for CAD GWAS genes. Here we investigate the hypothesis that TCF21 interacts with a downstream target gene, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), a ligand-activated transcription factor that mediates the cellular response to environmental contaminants, including dioxin and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., tobacco smoke). Perturbation of TCF21 expression in human coronary artery smooth muscle cells (HCASMC) revealed that TCF21 promotes expression of AHR, its heterodimerization partner ARNT, and cooperates with these factors to upregulate a number of inflammatory downstream disease related genes including IL1A, MMP1, and CYP1A1. TCF21 was shown to bind in AHR, ARNT and downstream target gene loci, and co-localization was noted for AHR-ARNT and TCF21 binding sites genome-wide in regions of HCASMC open chromatin. These regions of co-localization were found to be enriched for GWAS signals associated with cardio-metabolic as well as chronic inflammatory disease phenotypes. Finally, we show that similar to TCF21, AHR gene expression is increased in atherosclerotic lesions in mice in vivo using laser capture microdissection, and AHR protein is localized in human carotid atherosclerosis lesions where it is associated with protein kinases with a critical role in innate immune response. These data suggest that TCF21 can cooperate with AHR to activate an inflammatory gene expression program that is exacerbated by environmental stimuli, and may contribute to the overall risk for CAD.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006750
View details for PubMedID 28481916
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Endothelial Cells in Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome.
Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
2017; 37 (11): 2038–42
Insulin resistance leads to a number of metabolic and cellular abnormalities including endothelial dysfunction that increase the risk of vascular disease. Although it has been particularly challenging to study the genetic determinants that predispose to abnormal function of the endothelium in insulin-resistant states, the possibility of deriving endothelial cells from induced pluripotent stem cells generated from individuals with detailed clinical phenotyping, including accurate measurements of insulin resistance accompanied by multilevel omic data (eg, genetic and genomic characterization), has opened new avenues to study this relationship. Unfortunately, several technical barriers have hampered these efforts. In the present review, we summarize the current status of induced pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells for modeling endothelial dysfunction associated with insulin resistance and discuss the challenges to overcoming these limitations.
View details for PubMedID 28729365
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5669062
Analysis of Transcriptional Variability in a Large Human iPSC Library Reveals Genetic and Non-genetic Determinants of Heterogeneity.
Cell stem cell
Variability in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines remains a concern for disease modeling and regenerative medicine. We have used RNA-sequencing analysis and linear mixed models to examine the sources of gene expression variability in 317 human iPSC lines from 101 individuals. We found that ∼50% of genome-wide expression variability is explained by variation across individuals and identified a set of expression quantitative trait loci that contribute to this variation. These analyses coupled with allele-specific expression show that iPSCs retain a donor-specific gene expression pattern. Network, pathway, and key driver analyses showed that Polycomb targets contribute significantly to the non-genetic variability seen within and across individuals, highlighting this chromatin regulator as a likely source of reprogramming-based variability. Our findings therefore shed light on variation between iPSC lines and illustrate the potential for our dataset and other similar large-scale analyses to identify underlying drivers relevant to iPSC applications.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2016.11.005
View details for PubMedID 28017796
Nat1 Deficiency Is Associated with Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Exercise Intolerance in Mice
2016; 17 (2): 527-540
We recently identified human N-acetyltransferase 2 (NAT2) as an insulin resistance (IR) gene. Here, we examine the cellular mechanism linking NAT2 to IR and find that Nat1 (mouse ortholog of NAT2) is co-regulated with key mitochondrial genes. RNAi-mediated silencing of Nat1 led to mitochondrial dysfunction characterized by increased intracellular reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial fragmentation as well as decreased mitochondrial membrane potential, biogenesis, mass, cellular respiration, and ATP generation. These effects were consistent in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, C2C12 myoblasts, and in tissues from Nat1-deficient mice, including white adipose tissue, heart, and skeletal muscle. Nat1-deficient mice had changes in plasma metabolites and lipids consistent with a decreased ability to utilize fats for energy and a decrease in basal metabolic rate and exercise capacity without altered thermogenesis. Collectively, our results suggest that Nat1 deficiency results in mitochondrial dysfunction, which may constitute a mechanistic link between this gene and IR.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.09.005
View details for Web of Science ID 000385850700019
View details for PubMedID 27705799
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5097870
Coronary Artery Disease Associated Transcription Factor TCF21 Regulates Smooth Muscle Precursor Cells that Contribute to the Fibrous Cap.
2015; 5: 36-37
TCF21 is a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor that has recently been implicated as contributing to susceptibility to coronary heart disease based on genome wide association studies. In order to identify transcriptionally regulated target genes in a major disease relevant cell type, we performed siRNA knockdown of TCF21 in in vitro cultured human coronary artery smooth muscle cells and compared the transcriptome of siTCF21 versus siCONTROL treated cells. The raw (FASTQ) as well as processed (BED) data from 3 technical replicates per treatment has been deposited with Gene Expression Omnibus (GSE44461).
View details for PubMedID 26090325
Coronary Artery Disease Associated Transcription Factor TCF21 Regulates Smooth Muscle Precursor Cells That Contribute to the Fibrous Cap.
2015; 11 (5)
Recent genome wide association studies have identified a number of genes that contribute to the risk for coronary heart disease. One such gene, TCF21, encodes a basic-helix-loop-helix transcription factor believed to serve a critical role in the development of epicardial progenitor cells that give rise to coronary artery smooth muscle cells (SMC) and cardiac fibroblasts. Using reporter gene and immunolocalization studies with mouse and human tissues we have found that vascular TCF21 expression in the adult is restricted primarily to adventitial cells associated with coronary arteries and also medial SMC in the proximal aorta of mouse. Genome wide RNA-Seq studies in human coronary artery SMC (HCASMC) with siRNA knockdown found a number of putative TCF21 downstream pathways identified by enrichment of terms related to CAD, including "vascular disease," "disorder of artery," and "occlusion of artery," as well as disease-related cellular functions including "cellular movement" and "cellular growth and proliferation." In vitro studies in HCASMC demonstrated that TCF21 expression promotes proliferation and migration and inhibits SMC lineage marker expression. Detailed in situ expression studies with reporter gene and lineage tracing revealed that vascular wall cells expressing Tcf21 before disease initiation migrate into vascular lesions of ApoE-/- and Ldlr-/- mice. While Tcf21 lineage traced cells are distributed throughout the early lesions, in mature lesions they contribute to the formation of a subcapsular layer of cells, and others become associated with the fibrous cap. The lineage traced fibrous cap cells activate expression of SMC markers and growth factor receptor genes. Taken together, these data suggest that TCF21 may have a role regulating the differentiation state of SMC precursor cells that migrate into vascular lesions and contribute to the fibrous cap and more broadly, in view of the association of this gene with human CAD, provide evidence that these processes may be a mechanism for CAD risk attributable to the vascular wall.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005155
View details for PubMedID 26020946
Identification and validation of N-acetyltransferase 2 as an insulin sensitivity gene
JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION
2015; 125 (4): 1739-1751
Decreased insulin sensitivity, also referred to as insulin resistance (IR), is a fundamental abnormality in patients with type 2 diabetes and a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. While IR predisposition is heritable, the genetic basis remains largely unknown. The GENEticS of Insulin Sensitivity consortium conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for direct measures of insulin sensitivity, such as euglycemic clamp or insulin suppression test, in 2,764 European individuals, with replication in an additional 2,860 individuals. The presence of a nonsynonymous variant of N-acetyltransferase 2 (NAT2) [rs1208 (803A>G, K268R)] was strongly associated with decreased insulin sensitivity that was independent of BMI. The rs1208 "A" allele was nominally associated with IR-related traits, including increased fasting glucose, hemoglobin A1C, total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and coronary artery disease. NAT2 acetylates arylamine and hydrazine drugs and carcinogens, but predicted acetylator NAT2 phenotypes were not associated with insulin sensitivity. In a murine adipocyte cell line, silencing of NAT2 ortholog Nat1 decreased insulin-mediated glucose uptake, increased basal and isoproterenol-stimulated lipolysis, and decreased adipocyte differentiation, while Nat1 overexpression produced opposite effects. Nat1-deficient mice had elevations in fasting blood glucose, insulin, and triglycerides and decreased insulin sensitivity, as measured by glucose and insulin tolerance tests, with intermediate effects in Nat1 heterozygote mice. Our results support a role for NAT2 in insulin sensitivity.
View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI74592
View details for Web of Science ID 000352248600037
View details for PubMedID 25798622
Regulation of Human Bone Marrow Stromal Cell Proliferation and Differentiation Capacity by Glucocorticoid Receptor and AP-1 Crosstalk
JOURNAL OF BONE AND MINERAL RESEARCH
2010; 25 (10): 2115-2125
Although marrow adipocytes and osteoblasts derive from a common bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs), the mechanisms that underlie osteoporosis-associated bone loss and marrow adipogenesis during prolonged steroid treatment are unclear. We show in human BMSCs (hBMSCs) that glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling in response to high concentrations of glucocorticoid (GC) supports adipogenesis but inhibits osteogenesis by reducing c-Jun expression and hBMSC proliferation. Conversely, significantly lower concentrations of GC, which permit hBMSC proliferation, are necessary for normal bone mineralization. In contrast, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) signaling increases both JNK/c-Jun activity and hBMSC expansion, favoring osteogenic differentiation instead of adipogenesis. Indeed, PDGF antagonizes the proadipogenic qualities of GC/GR signaling. Thus our results reveal a novel c-Jun-centered regulatory network of signaling pathways in differentiating hBMSCs that controls the proliferation-dependent balance between osteogenesis and adipogenesis.
View details for DOI 10.1002/jbmr.120
View details for Web of Science ID 000282776100005
View details for PubMedID 20499359
ERK2 protein regulates the proliferation of human mesenchymal stem cells without affecting their mobilization and differentiation potential
EXPERIMENTAL CELL RESEARCH
2008; 314 (8): 1777-1788
Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells (hMSC), derived mainly from adult bone marrow, are valuable models for the study of processes involved in stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. As the Extracellular signal-Regulated Kinase (ERK) signalling pathway is a major contributor to cellular growth, differentiation and survival, we have studied the functions of this kinase in hMSC activity. Ablation of ERK2 gene expression (but not ERK1) by RNA interference significantly reduced proliferation of hMSC. This reduction was due to a defect in Cyclin D1 expression and subsequent arrest in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle. hMSC growth is enhanced through culture medium supplementation with growth factors (GFs) such as Platelet-Derived Growth Factor (PDGF), basic Fibroblast Growth Factor (bFGF) or Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF). However, these supplements could not rescue the defect observed after ERK2 knockdown, suggesting a common signalling pathway used by these GFs for proliferation. In contrast, ERK1/2 may be dissociated from chemotactic signalling induced by the same GFs. Additionally, hMSCs were capable of differentiating into adipocytes even in the absence of either ERK1 or ERK2 proteins. Our data show that hMSCs do not require cell division to enter the adipogenic differentiation process, indicating that clonal amplification of these cells is not a critical step. However, cell-cell contact seems to be an essential requirement to be able to differentiate into mature adipocytes.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.yexcr.2008.01.020
View details for Web of Science ID 000255624300012
View details for PubMedID 18378228