Vinicio de Jesus Perez, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
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Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare disease characterized by pulmonary vascular remodeling and right heart failure. Specific genetic variants increase the incidence of PAH in carriers with a family history of PAH, those who suffer from certain medical conditions, and even those with no apparent risk factors. Inflammation and immune dysregulation are related to vascular remodeling in PAH, but whether genetic susceptibility modifies the PAH immune response is unclear. TNIP2 and TRAF2 encode for immunomodulatory proteins that regulate NF-?B activation, a transcription factor complex associated with inflammation and vascular remodeling in PAH. Methods: Two unrelated families with PAH cases underwent whole-exome sequencing (WES). A custom pipeline for variant prioritization was carried out to obtain candidate variants. To determine the impact of TNIP2 and TRAF2 in cell proliferation, we performed an MTS [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium] assay on healthy lung pericytes transfected with siRNA specific for each gene. To measure the effect of loss of TNIP2 and TRAF2 on NF-kappa-beta (NF-?B) activity, we measured levels of Phospho-p65-NF-?B in siRNA-transfected pericytes using western immunoblotting. Results: We discovered a novel missense variant in the TNIP2 gene in two affected individuals from the same family. The two patients had a complex form of PAH with interatrial communication and scleroderma. In the second family, WES of the proband with PAH and primary biliary cirrhosis revealed a de novo protein-truncating variant in the TRAF2. The knockdown of TNIP2 and TRAF2 increased NF-?B activity in healthy lung pericytes, which correlated with a significant increase in proliferation over 24 h. Conclusions: We have identified two rare novel variants in TNIP2 and TRAF2 using WES. We speculate that loss of function in these genes promotes pulmonary vascular remodeling by allowing overactivation of the NF-?B signaling activity. Our findings support a role for WES in helping identify novel genetic variants associated with dysfunctional immune response in PAH.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fmed.2021.625763
View details for Web of Science ID 000649921700001
View details for PubMedID 33996849
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8119639
Pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) and pericytes are NG2+ mural cells that provide structural support to pulmonary arteries and capillaries. In pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), both mural cell types contribute to PA muscularization but whether similar mechanisms are responsible for their behavior is unknown.RNA-Seq was used to compare the gene profile of pericytes and PASMCs from PAH and healthy lungs. NG2-Cre-ER mice were used to generate NG2-selective reporter mice (NG2tdT) for cell lineage identification and tamoxifen-inducible mice for NG2-selective SDF1 knockout (SDF1NG2-KO).Hierarchical clustering of RNA-seq data demonstrated that the genetic profile of PAH pericytes and PASMCs is highly similar. Cellular lineage staining studies on NG2tdT mice in chronic hypoxia showed that similar to PAH, tdT+ cells accumulate in muscularized microvessels and demonstrate significant upregulation of SDF1, a chemokine involved in chemotaxis and angiogenesis. Compared to controls, SDF1NG2-KO mice in chronic hypoxia had reduced muscularization and lower abundance of NG2+ cells around microvessels. SDF1 stimulation in healthy pericytes induced greater contractility and impaired their capacity to establish endothelial-pericyte communications. In contrast, SDF1 knockdown reduced PAH pericyte contractility and improved their capacity to associate with vascular tubes in co-culture.SDF1 is upregulated in NG2+ mural cells and is associated with PA muscularization. Targeting SDF1 could help prevent and/or reverse muscularization in PAH.
View details for DOI 10.1165/rcmb.2019-0401OC
View details for PubMedID 32084325