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      The Bone Morphogenetic Protein Antagonist Gremlin Promotes Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Apoptosis

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          Background: Previous studies from our laboratory demonstrated that gremlin significantly increases vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation and migration. The present study investigates gremlin expression in the initial stages of rat carotid balloon injury and its effects on VSMC apoptosis. Methods: Gremlin mRNA expression was evaluated in rat carotids and cultured VSMCs by quantitative PCR. Apoptosis was analyzed in A7r5 cells and rabbit primary VSMCs following gremlin gene overexpression or silencing by chromatin morphology and caspase-3 activity. Results: Vascular injury promoted a significant decrease in gremlin mRNA levels. In addition, platelet-derived growth factor, angiotensin II and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 promoted coordinated regulation of gremlin and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-4 expression in opposite directions according to the confluence status of VSMC culture. In A7r5 cells, gremlin overexpression was able to increase apoptosis, as demonstrated by chromatin morphology and caspase-3 activity, while BMP administration promoted opposite effects. Finally, in agreement with our results, gremlin gene silencing effectively suppressed apoptosis in A7r5 cells and rabbit VSMCs. Conclusion: Gremlin is regulated by growth factors and vascular injury and is involved in modulation of VSMC apoptosis. Modifications of gremlin expression during vascular injury may contribute to the apoptosis resistance of VSMCs.

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          Most cited references 14

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          The Xenopus dorsalizing factor Gremlin identifies a novel family of secreted proteins that antagonize BMP activities.

          Using a Xenopus expression-cloning screen, we have isolated Gremlin, a novel antagonist of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling that is expressed in the neural crest. Gremlin belongs to a novel gene family that includes the head-inducing factor Cerberus and the tumor suppressor DAN. We show that all family members are secreted proteins and that they act as BMP antagonists in embryonic explants. We also provide support for the model that Gremlin, Cerberus, and DAN block BMP signaling by binding BMPs, preventing them from interacting with their receptors. In addition, Cerberus alone blocks signaling by Activin- and Nodal-like members of the TGF beta superfamily. Therefore, we propose that Gremlin, Cerberus, and DAN control diverse processes in growth and development by selectively antagonizing the activities of different subsets of the TGF beta ligands.
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            The family of bone morphogenetic proteins.

             G Karsenty,  P Ducy (2000)
            The family of bone morphogenetic proteins. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are secreted signaling molecules belonging to the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) superfamily of growth factors. The first BMPs were originally identified by their ability to induce ectopic bone formation when implanted under the skin of rodents. In this ectopic overexpression assay, there was a recapitulation of all the events occurring during skeletogenesis. This latter aspect indicated that these molecules could play important roles during development. More than 30 BMPs have been identified to date. The study of their expression pattern as well as the analysis of spontaneously mutated or genetically depleted mice have demonstrated a much broader range of function. These activities are mainly localized at sites of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions, including but not restricted to the skeleton. This review presents our current knowledge about the functions of BMPs during skeleton development as well as in many other biologic processes.
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              Production of transforming growth factor beta 1 during repair of arterial injury.

              Repair of arterial injury produced by balloon angioplasty leads to the formation of a neointima and a narrowing of the vascular lumen. In this study, we examined the possibility that smooth muscle cells (SMC) in injured rat carotid arteries are stimulated to produce type-1 transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta 1) during neointima formation in vivo. Levels of TGF-beta 1 transcripts (2.4 kb) were significantly increased within 6 h after carotid injury and reached a maximum (five to sevenfold) by 24 h. Regenerating left carotids had sustained increases in TGF-beta 1 mRNA levels (about fivefold) over the next 2 wk, during which time a substantial neointimal thickening was formed. No changes in basal TGF-beta 1 mRNA levels were found in contralateral uninjured carotids at any of the times examined. Immunohistochemical studies showed that a large majority of neointimal SMC were stained for TGF-beta 1 protein in an intracellular pattern, consistent with active TGF-beta 1 synthesis in this tissue. Neointima formation and TGF-beta 1 immunoreactivity were correlated with increases in fibronectin, collagen alpha 2(I), and collagen alpha 1(III) gene expression. Infusion of purified, recombinant TGF-beta 1 into rats with a preexisting neointima produced a significant stimulation of carotid neointimal SMC DNA synthesis. These results suggest that TGF-beta 1 plays an important role as an endogenous growth regulatory factor produced by neointimal SMC themselves during progressive neointimal thickening after balloon angioplasty.

                Author and article information

                J Vasc Res
                Journal of Vascular Research
                S. Karger AG
                June 2009
                10 January 2009
                : 46
                : 4
                : 325-332
                aAlbert Einstein Research and Education Institute, bNephrology Division, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
                189793 J Vasc Res 2009;46:325–332
                © 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 5, References: 32, Pages: 8
                Research Paper


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