Overexpression of smooth muscle myosin heavy chain leads to activation of the unfolded protein response and autophagic turnover of thick filament-associated proteins in vascular smooth muscle cells

Callie S Kwartler, Jiyuan Chen, Dhananjay Thakur, Shumin Li, Kedryn Baskin, Shanzhi Wang, Zhao V Wang, Lori Walker, Joseph A Hill, Henry F Epstein, Heinrich Taegtmeyer, Dianna M Milewicz
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2014 May 16, 289 (20): 14075-88
Duplications spanning nine genes at the genomic locus 16p13.1 predispose individuals to acute aortic dissections. The most likely candidate gene in this region leading to the predisposition for dissection is MYH11, which encodes smooth muscle myosin heavy chain (SM-MHC). The effects of increased expression of MYH11 on smooth muscle cell (SMC) phenotypes were explored using mouse aortic SMCs with transgenic overexpression of one isoform of SM-MHC. We found that these cells show increased expression of Myh11 and myosin filament-associated contractile genes at the message level when compared with control SMCs, but not at the protein level due to increased protein degradation. Increased expression of Myh11 resulted in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in SMCs, which led to a paradoxical decrease of protein levels through increased autophagic degradation. An additional consequence of ER stress in SMCs was increased intracellular calcium ion concentration, resulting in increased contractile signaling and contraction. The increased signals for contraction further promote transcription of contractile genes, leading to a feedback loop of metabolic abnormalities in these SMCs. We suggest that overexpression of MYH11 can lead to increased ER stress and autophagy, findings that may be globally implicated in disease processes associated with genomic duplications.

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