Characterization of the Role of PKN in TGF-Beta 1-Mediated Differentiation of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells




Deaton, Rebecca Ann


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Rebecca Ann Deaton, Characterization of the role of PKN in TGF-beta 1-mediated differentiation of vascular smooth muscle cells. Doctor of Philosophy (Biomedical Sciences), May 2004, 178 pp, 5 tables, 34 illustrations, references, 197 titles. Differentiated vascular smooth cells (SMCs) exhibit a work phenotype characterized by expression of several well-documented contractile apparatus-associated proteins. However, when exposed to mitogens such as serum or growth factors. SMCs retain the ability to de-differentiate into an “immature” proliferative phenotype, in which they lack contractile myofilaments. Proliferation of SMCs is involved in the formation of atherosclerotic plaques as well as arterial restenosis following balloon angioplasty. Thus, understanding the mechanism involved in maintain SMC differentiation process is critical to the development of therapies and treatments for the abnormal growth seen in these disease states. In this study, the molecular mechanisms through which transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-B1) induces differentiation of SMCs were examined. The data presented demonstrate that TGF-B1 stimulates actin re-organization, up-regulation of SM-specific marker gene expression and inhibition of cell proliferation of PAC-1 SMCs. These characteristics are indicative of the differentiated phenotype. The effects of TGF-B1 can be blocked by pretreatment of the cells with either HA1077 or Y-27632, which inhibit the functions of the kinases downstream of RhoA. Moreover, TGF-B1 induced differentiation is correlated with an increase in the activity of RhoA and its downstream target, PKN. Over-expression of active PKN alone is sufficient to increase the transcriptional activity of the SM a-actin, SM-MHC and SM22 promoters in PAC-1 cells. In addition, the activity of SRF-GATA and MEF2, three transcription factors that are known to regulate expression of SM-specific marker genes, are also increased by PKN. Finally, examination of MAPK signaling cascades demonstrates that TGF-B1 increases the activity of MKK3/6 and p38 MAPK and decreases the activity of ERK1/2 and JNK ½. Co-expression of dominant negative p38 MAPK is sufficient to abolish PNK-mediated activation of SRF, GATA and MEF2 as well as PKN-mediated activation of SMC marker gene promoters. Taken together, these results identify components of an important intracellular signaling pathway through which TGF-B1 activates RhoA and PKN to promote differentiation of SMCs.