Chronic hypoxia (CH)-induced sustained increases in vascular tone and pulmonary vascular remodeling play key roles in the pathogenesis of chronic hypoxic pulmonary hypertension (CHPH). Despite progresses have been made on exploring the role of Ca2+ in these processes, the underlying molecular mechanisms, however, remain largely unknown. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), a subgroup of the transforming growth factor-2 (TGF-2) superfamily, are known as critical regulators in mammalian development, cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Recently, the identification of germline mutation of BMP receptor II (BMPRII) in familial pulmonary hypertension and other associated group of evidence indicate the implication of abnormal BMP signaling in the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension. In particular, ug-regulation of bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) by CH was suggested to be an important factor that influences the development of CHPH. We previously demonstrated that CH elevated basal intracellular [Ca2+] ([Ca2+]i) in pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) due in large part to enhanced store-operated calcium entry (SOCE) through store-operated Ca2+ channels (SOCCs) likely composed of canonical transient receptor potential proteins (TRPCs). In our recent studies, we obtained data showing a role of BMP4 in regulation of TRPCs expression and Ca2+ influx. These data include: 1) BMP4 treatment increased TRPC1 and TRPC6 expression, SOCE and basal [Ca2+]i in PASMCs;2) Exposure to CH increased mRNA and protein expression of TRPC1 and TRPC6, SOCE and basal [Ca2+]i in PASMCs, and these CH-induced increases were attenuated by knockdown of BMP4 expression via specific BMP4 siRNA, or BMP4 depletion using its antagonist noggin;2) CH enhanced both mRNA and protein expressions of BMP4 in mouse lung;3) Overexpression of HIF-1a increased BMP4 expression in PASMCs, and the CH-induced increases of BMP4 expression were impaired in HIF-1a partially deficient mice. These results suggest that BMP4 participate in the regulation of Ca2+ homeostasis in PASMCs during CH via modulation of TRPC channels, acting either in downstream of HIF-1a or in concert with HIF-1a dependent up-regulation of TRPCs. On the basis of the above findings and some other data in our studies, we hypothesize that the increased [Ca2+]i in PASMCs caused by CH is due to or partially due to HIF-1 dependent upregulation of BMP4, which leads to increases in TRPCs expression, SOCE and basal [Ca2+]i in distal PASMCs, thereby contributing to CHPH. To test this hypothesis, we will perform experiments in lung, PA and/or PASMCs using the combined techniques of microfluorescence measurements and molecular biology to accomplish the following specific aims: 1) Determine the roles of HIF-1 and BMP4 in up-regulation of TRPCs expression during CH;2) Determine BMP4 receptors and antagonist(s) that are responsible for hypoxic increases of TRPCs expression;3) Determine the signaling pathway through which BMP4 regulates TRPCs expression in PASMCs;4) Determine which TRPC contributes to the increases of SOCE and basal [Ca2+]i in response to CH.
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a progressive devastating disease characterized by high blood pressure in the lungs;its mechanisms remain poorly understood. Hypoxia, an important trigger of PH, has been found to enhance calcium signaling in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells, causing cell proliferation and constriction. Our study focuses on investigation of whether and how BMP4 regulates this process, which, if successful, will lead to improved methods of pharmacological prevention and treatment of this lethal complication of chronic lung diseases.
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