Atherosclerosis is a progressive, inflammatory process leading to plaque formation in large arteries. Much is known about recruitment of macrophages and T cells to the vessel wall and their role in plaque progression. B cells and plasma cells have been identified in plaque and adventitia in humans and animal models of atherosclerosis throughout the course of disease and global B cell deficiency has been shown to promote atherosclerosis in murine models. Yet, the factors that regulate aortic B cell homing and the impact of modulation of these factors on atherogenesis, remain unknown. Using cell culture and animal studies, we have identified the helix-loop-helix factor (HLH), Id3, as a novel atheroprotective factor that regulates expression of chemokine receptors and aortic homing of B lymphocytes and demonstrated that Id3 was essential for B lymphocyte-mediated atheroprotection. In addition, we have recently identified a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the human ID3 gene that encodes an Id3 protein with attenuated function as a dimerization partner and dominant negative inhibitor of the bHLH E-protein, E12. This SNP is associated with carotid intima medial thickness (cIMT) in humans. Humans with the minor allele encoding an Id3 protein with attenuated Id3:E12 dimerization have an increase in cIMT (marker of subclinical atherosclerosis). Taking the mouse, human and biochemical data together, leads us to hypothesize that loss of E12 activity promotes atheroprotection through increased chemokine receptor expression and increased arterial homing of B lymphocytes in mice and that polymorphism in the human ID3 gene at rs11574 (Id3105T) resulting in reduced antagonism of human E12 activity allows repression of chemokine receptor expression, reducing chemotaxis and arterial homing of human B lymphocytes. Identification of E12 as a critical regulator of aortic B lymphocyte homing and B lymphocyte-mediated atheroprotection is not only important for further studies to broaden the paradigm of our understanding of immune regulation of atherogenesis, but may also lead to identification of novel biomarkers (ID3 gene polymorphism) and innovative strategies to promote atheroprotection in humans. Based on our compelling preliminary data and utilizing novel reagents, we propose the following aims to address our hypothesis:
Aim 1 : Determine if modulation of E12 expression regulates CCR6 surface protein expression and chemotaxis in B lymphocytes.
Aim 2 : Determine if B lymphocytes harboring the Id3 polymorphism associated with attenuated antagonism of E12 and increased cIMT in humans have reduced CCR6 expression and reduced B lymphocyte chemotaxis.
Aim 3 : Determine the role of E12 on aortic B cell homing and atheroprotection in vivo and determine if polymorphism in Id3 at rs11574 alters aortic B cell homing.
Atherosclerosis is a public health issue of considerable importance due to the magnitude of the problem and the associated morbidity and mortality. Traditional atherosclerotic risk factors are not always predictive of disease burden in patients. Identification of novel markers of atherosclerosis risk based on loss of protective immunity has the potential to broaden the paradigm of atherosclerosis development and lead to early, innovative, intervention strategies to reduce atherosclerosis through enhancing immune protection. We have identified a novel atheroprotective pathway in mice mediated by immune cells called B lymphocytes, and discovered molecular (Id3) and cellular (CCR6 and CXCR4) factors in B lymphocytes mediating this effect. In this application, we propose to further dissect out the molecular pathways that regulate B lymphocyte- mediated atheroprotection in mice and determine if polymorphism in the human ID3 gene at rs11574 results in alterations of this important molecular pathway as a link to potential atheroprotective mechanisms in humans. Results may not only identify, original and unconventional risk markers, but may also lay the groundwork for bold and creative approaches to bolster immune protection from atherosclerosis in humans.
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