J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(4), 248-272; doi:10.3390/jcdd2040248 (registering DOI) - published 2 October 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) is the most common congenital valvular heart defect with an overall frequency of 0.5%–1.2%. BAVs result from abnormal aortic cusp formation during valvulogenesis, whereby adjacent cusps fuse into a single large cusp resulting in two, instead of the normal three, aortic cusps. Individuals with BAV are at increased risk for ascending aortic disease, aortic stenosis and coarctation of the aorta. The frequent occurrence of BAV and its anatomically discrete but frequent co-existing diseases leads us to suspect a common cellular origin. Although autosomal-dominant transmission of BAV has been observed in a few pedigrees, notably involving the gene NOTCH1, no single-gene model clearly explains BAV inheritance, implying a complex genetic model involving interacting genes. Several sequencing studies in patients with BAV have identified rare and uncommon mutations in genes of cardiac embryogenesis. But the extensive cell-cell signaling and multiple cellular origins involved in cardiac embryogenesis preclude simplistic explanations of this disease. In this review, we examine the series of events from cellular and transcriptional embryogenesis of the heart, to development of the aortic valve.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(3), 233-247; doi:10.3390/jcdd2030233 - published 8 September 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Although the genetic basis of mitral valve prolapse (MVP) has now been clearly established, the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the pathological processes associated to a specific mutation often remain to be determined. The FLNA gene (encoding Filamin A; FlnA) was the first gene associated to non-syndromic X-linked myxomatous valvular dystrophy, but the impacts of the mutations on its function remain un-elucidated. Here, using the first repeats (1–8) of FlnA as a bait in a yeast two-hybrid screen, we identified the tyrosine phosphatase PTPN12 (PTP-PEST) as a specific binding partner of this region of FlnA protein. In addition, using yeast two-hybrid trap assay pull down and co-immunoprecipitation experiments, we showed that the MVP-associated FlnA mutations (G288R, P637Q, H743P) abolished FlnA/PTPN12 interactions. PTPN12 is a key regulator of signaling pathways involved in cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) crosstalk, cellular responses to mechanical stress that involve integrins, focal adhesion transduction pathways, and actin cytoskeleton dynamics. Interestingly, we showed that the FlnA mutations impair the activation status of two PTPN12 substrates, the focal adhesion associated kinase Src, and the RhoA specific activating protein p190RhoGAP. Together, these data point to PTPN12/FlnA interaction and its weakening by FlnA mutations as a mechanism potentially involved in the physiopathology of FlnA-associated MVP.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(3), 214-232; doi:10.3390/jcdd2030214 - published 17 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The heart valve interstitial cell (VIC) population is dynamic and thought to mediate lay down and maintenance of the tri-laminar extracellular matrix (ECM) structure within the developing and mature valve throughout life. Disturbances in the contribution and distribution of valve ECM components are detrimental to biomechanical function and associated with disease. This pathological process is associated with activation of resident VICs that in the absence of disease reside as quiescent cells. While these paradigms have been long standing, characterization of this abundant and ever-changing valve cell population is incomplete. Here we examine the expression pattern of Smooth muscle α-actin, Periostin, Twist1 and Vimentin in cultured VICs, heart valves from healthy embryonic, postnatal and adult mice, as well as mature valves from human patients and established mouse models of disease. We show that the VIC population is highly heterogeneous and phenotypes are dependent on age, species, location, and disease state. Furthermore, we identify phenotypic diversity across common models of mitral valve disease. These studies significantly contribute to characterizing the VIC population in health and disease and provide insights into the cellular dynamics that maintain valve structure in healthy adults and mediate pathologic remodeling in disease states.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(3), 200-213; doi:10.3390/jcdd2030200 - published 24 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Mutations in the actin-binding gene Filamin-A have been linked to non-syndromic myxomatous valvular dystrophy and associated mitral valve prolapse. Previous studies by our group traced the adult valve defects back to developmental errors in valve interstitial cell-mediated extracellular matrix remodeling during fetal valve gestation. Mice deficient in Filamin-A exhibit enlarged mitral leaflets at E17.5, and subsequent progression to a myxomatous phenotype is observed by two months. For this study, we sought to define mechanisms that contribute to myxomatous degeneration in the adult Filamin-A-deficient mouse. In vivo experiments demonstrate increased infiltration of hematopoietic-derived cells and macrophages in adolescent Filamin-A conditional knockout mice. Concurrent with this infiltration of hematopoietic cells, we show an increase in Erk activity, which localizes to regions of MMP2 expression. Additionally, increases in cell proliferation are observed at two months, when hematopoietic cell engraftment and signaling are pronounced. Similar changes are observed in human myxomatous mitral valve tissue, suggesting that infiltration of hematopoietic-derived cells and/or increased Erk signaling may contribute to myxomatous valvular dystrophy. Consequently, immune cell targeting and/or suppression of pErk activities may represent an effective therapeutic option for mitral valve prolapse patients.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(3), 190-199; doi:10.3390/jcdd2030190 - published 10 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Turner syndrome (TS), most frequently caused by X-monosomy (45,X), is characterized in part by cardiovascular abnormalities, including aortopathy and bicuspid aortic valve (BAV). There is a need for animal models that recapitulate the cardiovascular manifestations of TS. Extracellular matrix (ECM) organization and morphometrics of the aortic valve and proximal aorta were examined in adult 39,XO mice (where the parental origin of the single X was paternal (39,XPO) or maternal (39,XMO)) and 40,XX controls. Aortic valve morphology was normal (tricuspid) in all of the 39,XPO and 40,XX mice studied, but abnormal (bicuspid or quadricuspid) in 15% of 39,XMO mice. Smooth muscle cell orientation in the ascending aorta was abnormal in all 39,XPO and 39,XMO mice examined, but smooth muscle actin was decreased in 39,XMO mice only. Aortic dilation was present with reduced penetrance in 39,XO mice. The 39,XO mouse demonstrates aortopathy and an X-linked parent-of-origin effect on aortic valve malformation, and the candidate gene FAM9B is polymorphically expressed in control and diseased human aortic valves. The 39,XO mouse model may be valuable for examining the mechanisms underlying the cardiovascular findings in TS, and suggest there are important genetic modifiers on the X chromosome that modulate risk for nonsyndromic BAV and aortopathy.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(3), 176-189; doi:10.3390/jcdd2030176 - published 10 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Non-syndromic mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a common degenerative valvulopathy, predisposing to arrhythmia and sudden death. The etiology of MVP is suspected to be under genetic control, as supported by familial cases and its manifestation in genetic syndrome (e.g., Marfan syndrome). One candidate etiological mechanism is a perturbation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling of the valve. To test this hypothesis, we assessed the role of genetic variants in the matrix metalloproteinase 2 gene (MMP2) known to regulate the ECM turnover by direct degradation of proteins and for which transgenic mice develop MVP. Direct sequencing of exons of MMP2 in 47 unrelated patients and segregation analyses in families did not reveal any causative mutation. We studied eight common single nucleotide polymorphisms (TagSNPs), which summarize the genetic information at the MMP2 locus. The association study in two case controls sets (NCases = 1073 and NControls = 1635) provided suggestive evidence for the association of rs1556888 located downstream MMP2 with the risk of MVP, especially in patients with the fibroelastic defiency form. Our study does not support the contribution of MMP2 rare variation in the etiology to MVP in humans, though further genetic and molecular investigation is required to confirm our current suggestive association of one common variant.