Subjects carrying the T2238C ANP gene variant have a higher risk to suffer a stroke or myocardial infarction. The mechanisms through which T2238C/αANP exerts detrimental vascular effects need to be fully clarified. In the present work we aimed at exploring the impact of C2238/αANP (mutant form) on atherosclerosis-related pathways. As a first step, an atherosclerosis gene expression macroarray analysis was performed in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) exposed to either T2238/αANP (wild type) or C2238/αANP. The major finding was that apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene expression was significantly downregulated by C2238/αANP and it was upregulated by T2238/αANP. We subsequently found that C2238/αANP induces ApoE downregulation through type C natriuretic peptide receptor (NPR-C)-dependent mechanisms involving the upregulation of miR199a-3p and miR199a-5p and the downregulation of DNAJA4. In fact, NPR-C knockdown rescued ApoE level. Upregulation of miR199a by NPR-C was mediated by a reactive oxygen species-dependent increase of the early growth response protein-1 (Egr-1) transcription factor. In fact, Egr-1 knockdown abolished the impact of C2238/αANP on ApoE and miR199a. Of note, downregulation of ApoE by C2238/αANP was associated with a significant increase in inflammation, apoptosis and necrosis that was completely rescued by the exogenous administration of recombinant ApoE. In conclusion, our study dissected a novel mechanism of vascular damage exerted by C2238/αANP that is mediated by ApoE downregulation. We provide the first demonstration that C2238/αANP downregulates ApoE in VSMCs through NPR-C-dependent activation of Egr-1 and the consequent upregulation of miR199a. Restoring ApoE levels could represent a potential therapeutic strategy to counteract the harmful effects of C2238/αANP.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research