Histone deacetylase activity selectively regulates notch-mediated smooth muscle differentiation in human vascular cells.

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Center for Molecular Medicine, Maine Medical Center Research Institute

Journal Title

J Am Heart Assoc

MeSH Headings

Humans, Cell Differentiation, Histone Deacetylases, Muscle, Smooth, Receptors, Notch


BACKGROUND: Histone deacetylases (HDACs) modify smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation and affect neointimal lesion formation by regulating cell cycle progression. HDACs might also regulate SMC differentiation, although this is not as well characterized.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Notch signaling activates SMC contractile markers and the differentiated phenotype in human aortic SMCs. Using this model, we found that HDAC inhibition antagonized the ability of Notch to increase levels of smooth muscle α-actin, calponin1, smooth muscle 22α, and smooth muscle myosin heavy chain. However, inhibition of HDAC activity did not suppress Notch activation of the HRT target genes. In fact, HDAC inhibition increased activation of the canonical C-promoter binding factor-1 (CBF-1)-mediated Notch pathway, which activates HRT transcription. Although CBF-1-mediated Notch signaling was increased by HDAC inhibition in human SMCs and in a C3H10T1/2 model, SMC differentiation was inhibited in both cases. Further characterization of downstream Notch signaling pathways showed activation of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, and PI3K/Akt pathways. The activation of these pathways was sensitive to HDAC inhibition and was positively correlated with the differentiated phenotype.

CONCLUSIONS: Our studies define novel signaling pathways downstream of Notch signaling in human SMCs. In addition to the canonical CBF-1 pathway, Notch stimulates c-Jun N-terminal kinase, mitogen-activated protein kinase, and PI3K cascades. Both canonical and noncanonical pathways downstream of Notch promote a differentiated, contractile phenotype in SMCs. Although CBF-1-mediated Notch signaling is not suppressed by HDAC inhibition, HDAC activity is required for Notch differentiation signals through mitogen-activated protein kinase and PI3K pathways in SMCs. (J Am Heart Assoc. 2012;1:e000901 doi: 10.1161/JAHA.112.000901).



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