Modeling supravalvular aortic stenosis syndrome with human induced pluripotent stem cells

Xin Ge, Yongming Ren, Oscar Bartulos, Min Young Lee, Zhichao Yue, Kun-Yong Kim, Wei Li, Peter J Amos, Esra Cagavi Bozkulak, Amulya Iyer, Wei Zheng, Hongyu Zhao, Kathleen A Martin, Darrell N Kotton, George Tellides, In-Hyun Park, Lixia Yue, Yibing Qyang
Circulation 2012 October 2, 126 (14): 1695-704

BACKGROUND: Supravalvular aortic stenosis (SVAS) is caused by mutations in the elastin (ELN) gene and is characterized by abnormal proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) that can lead to narrowing or blockage of the ascending aorta and other arterial vessels. Having patient-specific SMCs available may facilitate the study of disease mechanisms and development of novel therapeutic interventions.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Here, we report the development of a human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) line from a patient with SVAS caused by the premature termination in exon 10 of the ELN gene resulting from an exon 9 four-nucleotide insertion. We showed that SVAS iPSC-derived SMCs (iPSC-SMCs) had significantly fewer organized networks of smooth muscle α-actin filament bundles, a hallmark of mature contractile SMCs, compared with control iPSC-SMCs. The addition of elastin recombinant protein or enhancement of small GTPase RhoA signaling was able to rescue the formation of smooth muscle α-actin filament bundles in SVAS iPSC-SMCs. Cell counts and BrdU analysis revealed a significantly higher proliferation rate in SVAS iPSC-SMCs than control iPSC-SMCs. Furthermore, SVAS iPSC-SMCs migrated at a markedly higher rate to the chemotactic agent platelet-derived growth factor compared with the control iPSC-SMCs. We also provided evidence that elevated activity of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 is required for hyperproliferation of SVAS iPSC-SMCs. The phenotype was confirmed in iPSC-SMCs generated from a patient with deletion of elastin owing to Williams-Beuren syndrome.

CONCLUSIONS: SVAS iPSC-SMCs recapitulate key pathological features of patients with SVAS and may provide a promising strategy to study disease mechanisms and to develop novel therapies.

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