Selective endothelial hyperactivation of oncogenic KRAS induces brain arteriovenous malformations in mice

Eun S Park, Sehee Kim, Shuning Huang, Ji Young Yoo, Jakob Körbelin, Tae Jin Lee, Balveen Kaur, Pramod K Dash, Peng Roc Chen, Eunhee Kim
Annals of Neurology 2021 March 5

OBJECTIVE: Brain arteriovenous malformations (bAVMs) are a leading cause of hemorrhagic stroke and neurological deficits in children and young adults, however no pharmacological intervention is available to treat these patients. Although more than 95% of bAVMs are sporadic without family history, the pathogenesis of sporadic bAVMs is largely unknown, which may account for the lack of therapeutic options. KRAS mutations are frequently observed in cancer, and a recent unprecedented finding of these mutations in sporadic human bAVMs offers a new direction in the research. Using a novel adeno-associated virus targeting brain endothelium (AAV-BR1), the current study tested if endothelial KRASG12V mutation induces sporadic bAVMs in mice.

METHODS: Five-week-old mice were systemically injected with either AAV-BR1-GFP or -KRASG12V . At 8 weeks after the AAV injection, bAVM formation and characteristics were addressed by histological and molecular analyses. The effect of MEK/ERK inhibition on KRASG12V -induced bAVMs was determined by treatment of trametinib, an FDA-approved MEK/ERK inhibitor.

RESULTS: The viral-mediated KRASG12V overexpression induced bAVMs which were composed of a tangled nidus mirroring the distinctive morphology of human bAVMs. The bAVMs were accompanied by focal angiogenesis, intracerebral hemorrhages, altered vascular constituents, neuroinflammation, and impaired sensory/cognitive/motor functions. Finally, we confirmed that bAVM growth was inhibited by trametinib treatment.

INTERPRETATION: Our innovative approach using AAV-BR1 confirms that KRAS mutations promote bAVM development via the MEK/ERK pathway, and provides a preclinical mouse model of bAVMs which will be useful to develop a therapeutic strategy for bAVM patients. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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