Posts Tagged ‘vascular’

Cell biology: A mitochondrial brake on vascular repair

Injured blood vessels are repaired by vascular smooth-muscle cells. It emerges that the protein Fat1 regulates the proliferation of these cells by inhibiting the function of mitochondria.

Control of mitochondrial function and cell growth by the atypical cadherin Fat1

Mitochondrial products such as ATP, reactive oxygen species, and aspartate are key regulators of cellular metabolism and growth. Abnormal mitochondrial function compromises integrated growth-related processes such as development and tissue repair, as well as homeostatic mechanisms that counteract ageing and neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Physiologic mechanisms that control mitochondrial activity in such settings remain incompletely understood. Here we show that the atypical Fat1 cadherin acts as a molecular ‘brake’ on mitochondrial respiration that regulates vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation after arterial injury. Fragments of Fat1 accumulate in SMC mitochondria, and the Fat1 intracellular domain interacts with multiple mitochondrial proteins, including critical factors associated with the inner mitochondrial membrane. SMCs lacking Fat1 (Fat1KO) grow faster, consume more oxygen for ATP production, and contain more aspartate. Notably, expression in Fat1KO cells of a modified Fat1 intracellular domain that localizes exclusively to mitochondria largely normalizes oxygen consumption, and the growth advantage of these cells can be suppressed by inhibition of mitochondrial respiration, which suggest that a Fat1-mediated growth control mechanism is intrinsic to mitochondria. Consistent with this idea, Fat1 species associate with multiple respiratory complexes, and Fat1 deletion both increases the activity of complexes I and II and promotes the formation of complex-I-containing supercomplexes. In vivo, Fat1 is expressed in injured human and mouse arteries, and inactivation of SMC Fat1 in mice potentiates the response to vascular damage, with markedly increased medial hyperplasia and neointimal growth, and evidence of higher SMC mitochondrial respiration. These studies suggest that Fat1 controls mitochondrial activity to restrain cell growth during the reparative, proliferative state induced by vascular injury. Given recent reports linking Fat1 to cancer, abnormal kidney and muscle development, and neuropsychiatric disease, this Fat1 function may have importance in other settings of altered cell growth and metabolism.

CD47-blocking antibodies restore phagocytosis and prevent atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the disease process that underlies heart attack and stroke. Advanced lesions at risk of rupture are characterized by the pathological accumulation of diseased vascular cells and apoptotic cellular debris. Why these cells are not cleared remains unknown. Here we show that atherogenesis is associated with upregulation of CD47, a key anti-phagocytic molecule that is known to render malignant cells resistant to programmed cell removal, or ‘efferocytosis’. We find that administration of CD47-blocking antibodies reverses this defect in efferocytosis, normalizes the clearance of diseased vascular tissue, and ameliorates atherosclerosis in multiple mouse models. Mechanistic studies implicate the pro-atherosclerotic factor TNF-α as a fundamental driver of impaired programmed cell removal, explaining why this process is compromised in vascular disease. Similar to recent observations in cancer, impaired efferocytosis appears to play a pathogenic role in cardiovascular disease, but is not a fixed defect and may represent a novel therapeutic target.

Cloche is a bHLH-PAS transcription factor that drives haemato-vascular specification

Vascular and haematopoietic cells organize into specialized tissues during early embryogenesis to supply essential nutrients to all organs and thus play critical roles in development and disease. At the top of the haemato-vascular specification cascade lies cloche, a gene that when mutated in zebrafish leads to the striking phenotype of loss of most endothelial and haematopoietic cells and a significant increase in cardiomyocyte numbers. Although this mutant has been analysed extensively to investigate mesoderm diversification and differentiation and continues to be broadly used as a unique avascular model, the isolation of the cloche gene has been challenging due to its telomeric location. Here we used a deletion allele of cloche to identify several new cloche candidate genes within this genomic region, and systematically genome-edited each candidate. Through this comprehensive interrogation, we succeeded in isolating the cloche gene and discovered that it encodes a PAS-domain-containing bHLH transcription factor, and that it is expressed in a highly specific spatiotemporal pattern starting during late gastrulation. Gain-of-function experiments show that it can potently induce endothelial gene expression. Epistasis experiments reveal that it functions upstream of etv2 and tal1, the earliest expressed endothelial and haematopoietic transcription factor genes identified to date. A mammalian cloche orthologue can also rescue blood vessel formation in zebrafish cloche mutants, indicating a highly conserved role in vertebrate vasculogenesis and haematopoiesis. The identification of this master regulator of endothelial and haematopoietic fate enhances our understanding of early mesoderm diversification and may lead to improved protocols for the generation of endothelial and haematopoietic cells in vivo and in vitro.

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