Introduction Endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) is a process where endothelial cells (ECs) undergo dramatic cytoskeletal remodelling and gene expression changes, leading to a more motile mesenchymal phenotype that can significantly contribute to cardiac fibrosis. Histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3), a class I HDAC, is essential in the maintenance of endothelial homeostasis. Our previous study indicates that mouse HDAC3 mRNA can undergo unconventional splicing, and that the HDAC3-alpha (HDAC3a) spliced isoform promotes EndMT in human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs). This project aims to elucidate the role of HDAC3a in mediating EndMT and its underlying mechanisms in the development of pressure-overload-induced cardiac fibrosis.
Methods and results Our previous study reveals that HDAC3a promotes EndMT in HAECs via activation of transforming growth factor-beta 2, which could possibly be mediated through increased protease enzyme activity. Therefore HAECs overexpressed with HDAC3a via adenoviral gene transfer (Ad-HDAC3a) have undergone a protease array, which revealed that cells overexpressed with HDAC3a have an elevated level of a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs 1 (ADAMTS1). This was further confirmed with increased mRNA and protein expression levels of ADAMTS1 in Ad-HDAC3a-infected HAECs using RT-qPCR and Western blotting analysis respectively (both n = 4, P < 0.05). A mouse model of pressure overload-induced cardiac fibrosis was established by transverse aortic constriction (TAC), and cardiac fibrosis was confirmed by increased Col1a1 expression seen using RT-qPCR and Picrosirius red staining in heart tissue sections from mice 7 d post-TAC. Immunofluorescent staining detected CD31+/alpha-SMA+ (indicative of EndMT) and HDAC3a+/CD31+ cells in heart tissues from TAC mice but not in those from sham-operated mice. There were significant increases in mRNA expression of HDAC3a and ADAMTS1, together with EndMT transcription factors Snai1, Snai2 and Twist1 in heart tissues from 7 d post-TAC mice compared to those from 7 d post-sham mice (n = 7-– 8, P < 0.05). Elevated HDAC3a and ADAMTS1 protein expression were also detected in the TAC heart tissues (n = 5, P < 0.05).
Conclusion These results indicate an association between the HDAC3 splicing isoform HDAC3a, ADAMTS1 and EndMT during TAC-induced cardiac fibrosis. Further investigation of the underlying mechanisms mediated by HDAC3a and ADAMTS1 in cardiac fibrosis is warranted.
- endothelial-mesenchymal transition
- cardiac fibrosis
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