[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The zinc finger transcription factor Egr-1 (Early growth response 1) is central to several growth factors and represents an important activator of target genes not only involved in physiological processes like embryogenesis and neonatal development, but also in a variety of pathophysiological processes, for example atherosclerosis or cancer. Current options to investigate its transcription and activation in vivo are end-point measurements that do not provide insights into dynamic changes in the living organism.
We developed a transgenic mouse (Egr-1-luc) in which the luciferase reporter gene is under the control of the murine Egr-1 promoter providing a versatile tool to study the time course of Egr-1 activation in vivo. In neonatal mice, bioluminescence imaging revealed a high Egr-1 promoter activity reaching basal levels three weeks after birth with activity at snout, ears and paws. Using a model of partial hepatectomy we could show that Egr-1 promoter activity and Egr-1 mRNA levels were increased in the regenerating liver. In a model of wound healing, we demonstrated that Egr-1 promoter activity was upregulated at the site of injury.
Taken together, we have developed a transgenic mouse model that allows real time in vivo imaging of the Egr-1 promoter activity. The ability to monitor and quantify Egr-1 activity in the living organism may facilitate a better understanding of Egr-1 function in vivo.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) form the backbone of arteries and their proliferation hallmarks collateral vessel growth, a process termed arteriogenesis, as well as pathogenic responses such as restenosis. Since signaling pathways in SMCs are the main targets for therapeutic interventions, we aimed to determine how and to what extent the activation of the ubiquitous MEK-ERK signaling pathway correlates with important in vivo phenomena such as dedifferentiation, nuclear activation and proliferation of SMCs. Specificity of this pathway was monitored using MEK inhibitors UO126 and PD98059 in platelet derived growth factor-AB (PDGF-AB)- and fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2)-stimulated SMCs. PDGF-AB induced a rapid MEK activation followed by phosphorylation of the MEK substrates ERK1/2 while FGF-2 showed a less pronounced and delayed activation. Both growth factors triggered a marked phosphorylation of c-Myc and expression of Egr1. Pretreatment with MEK inhibitors suppressed the activation of the ERK cascade, abolished the down-regulation of desmin and led to cell cycle arrest. However, the reversibility of p27Kip1 down-regulation by UO126 was mainly observed after PDGF-AB stimulation, indicating MEK independent p27Kip1 down-regulation by FGF-2. Surprisingly, treatment of SMCs with UO126 or PD98059 increased the level of MEK phosphorylation in a dose dependent manner at serine residues 217/221 in the presence as well as in the absence of both growth factors. Our results strongly imply that depending on the environmental context phosphorylation of serines 217/221 serves as an "on" as well as an "off " switch.
Journal of Cellular Physiology 02/2006; 206(1):25-34. · 4.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Smooth muscle cells (SMC) and endothelial cells (EC) play a pivotal role in arteriogenesis and atherosclerosis. We evaluated the role of EC on the growth of SMC and neonatal cardiomyocytes (NEO) by using serum-free EC-supernatant (AoCM). Five percent fetal calf serum was used in order to mimic growth effects of blood. EC and SMC purities were 99% as determined by absence or presence of markers such as CD31, desmin, alpha-smooth muscle actin and tropomyosin using immunostaining and FACS analysis. AoCM markedly influenced the morphology of NEO as determined by alpha-actinin staining but showed only little effect on the phenotype of SMC. Protein synthesis after 2 days increased 2.5-fold in SMC and 3.7-fold in NEO as determined by tritium incorporation. The values for serum (2.8 and 2.3-fold, respectively) were comparable. The induction of DNA-synthesis by serum in NEO was twice that of AoCM (3.9-fold). However, proliferative effects of serum and AoCM on SMC differed markedly: Serum induced a 66-fold increase in DNA-synthesis resulting in a 54% higher cell number. DNA-synthesis after AoCM treatment lead to a nonsignificant small increase and no proliferation was detected. Platelet derived growth factor (PDGF-AB), present in blood, induced a 47-fold increase in DNA-synthesis and a 38% increase in cell number. Our data suggest that EC in the absence of physical forces exert strong morphogenic effects on cardiomyocytes but they lack specific effects on smooth muscle cells. In vessels EC might function as a border to isolate SMC from key regulators in blood such as PDGFs.
Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry 02/2003; 242(1-2):39-45. · 2.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hypoxia has been identified as an important stimulus for gene expression during embryogenesis and in various pathological situations. Its influence under physiological conditions, however, has only been studied occasionally. We therefore investigated the effect of intermittent high altitude hypoxia on the mRNA expression of different cytokines and protooncogenes, but also of other genes described to be regulated by hypoxia, in the left ventricle (LV), the right ventricle (RV), atria and the lung of adult rats after simulation of hypoxia in a barochamber (5000 m, 4 hours to 10 days). Heme oxygenase-1 as well as transforming growth factor-beta1 showed an increased expression in all regions of the heart and the lung at different periods of hypoxia. For lactate dehydrogenase-A, we found a significant up-regulation in the RV and the lung, for lactate dehydrogenase-B up-regulation in the RV, but down-regulation in the LV and the atria. Vascular endothelial growth factor was up-regulated in the RV, the LV and the lung, but down-regulated in the atria. Its receptor Flk-1 mRNA was significantly increased in the atria and RV only. Expression of c-fos was found in the LV and RV only after 4 hours of hypoxia. The level of c-jun was significantly increased in the LV but decreased in the atria. Our data clearly demonstrate that intermittent hypoxia is a modulator of gene expression under physiological conditions. It differently regulates the expression of distinct genes not only in individual organs but even within one organ, i.e. in the heart.
Physiological research / Academia Scientiarum Bohemoslovaca 02/2003; 52(2):147-57. · 1.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Increased expression of transforming growth factor beta1 (TGF-beta1) during collateral artery growth, as well as its numerous effects on monocytes/macrophages and the smooth muscle cell cycle and differentiation, suggest a modulating role for this growth factor during arteriogenesis. We studied the effects of exogenously applied TGF-beta1 on arteriogenesis as well as its interactions with monocytes, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells. In a New Zealand White (NZW) rabbit model of femoral artery ligation, increased expression of active TGF-beta1 was found around proliferating arteries in NZW rabbits. The exogenous application of TGF-beta1 led to an increase in both the number of visible collateral arteries as well as the conductance of the collateral circulation (4.0 +/- 0.5 ml/min/100 mmHg vs. 28.9 +/- 3.7 ml/min/100 mmHg, P<0.05). Fluorescence activated cell sorting analysis showed an increase in the expression of the MAC-1 receptor in both rabbit and human monocytes after treatment with TGF-beta1 (control: 91.2 +/- 4.2/482 +/- 21.7; TGF-beta1 200 ng/ml 193.9 +/- 6.7/ 675.5 +/- 25.7, P<0.05 for all differences). TGF-beta1 treated monocytes showed an increased endothelial adhesion and transmigration in transendothelial migration assays (5.75 +/- 0.63 x 10(5) vs. 10.11 +/- 0.04 x 10(5), P<0.05). TGF-beta1 had no direct pro-angiogenic effect on human umbilical vein endothelial cells in a spheroid model of angiogenesis and inhibited the angiogenic effects of vascular endothelial growth factor.
The FASEB Journal 03/2002; 16(3):432-4. · 5.70 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is known to play an important role in angiogenesis. Its place in collateral artery growth (arteriogenesis), however, is still debated. In the present study, we analyzed the expression of VEGF and its receptors (Flk-1 and Flt-1) in a rabbit model of collateral artery growth after femoral artery occlusion. Hypoxia presents the most important stimulus for VEGF expression. We therefore also investigated the expression level of distinct hypoxia-inducible genes (HIF-1alpha, LDH A) and determined metabolic intermediates indicative for ischemia (ATP, creatine phosphate, and their catabolites). We found that arteriogenesis was not associated with an increased expression of VEGF or the mentioned hypoxia-inducible genes. Furthermore, the high-energy phosphates and their catabolites were entirely within normal limits. Despite the absence of an increased expression of VEGF and its receptors, collateral vessels increased their diameter by a factor of 10. The speed of collateral development could be increased by infusion of the chemoattractant monocyte chemotactic protein-1 but not by infusion of a 30 times higher concentration of VEGF. From these data, we conclude that under nonischemic conditions, arteriogenesis is neither associated with nor inducible by increased levels of VEGF and that VEGF is not a natural agent to induce arteriogenesis in vivo.
Circulation Research 11/2001; 89(9):779-86. · 11.86 Impact Factor