Diets high in sugar and saturated fat (""""""""Western"""""""" diets) contribute to the increased incidence of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease (CVD). The mechanisms underlying Western diet- induced cardiac pathology are often attributed to the systemic effects of obesity, such as hypertension, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, and inflammatory mediators;however, signal transduction pathways intrinsic to cardiomyocyte function and hypertrophy are altered in Western diet-fed hearts. The post- translational O-linked attachment of a -N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) sugar to serine/threonine residues of proteins is an important mediator of signal transduction, with a single enzyme, O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT), catalyzing the attachment of O-GlcNAc to proteins. Post-translational modification of chromatin-associated proteins and formation of chromatin-modifying complexes cause chromatin to relax or contract thus activating or repressing gene transcription. Interestingly, key components of the chromatin-modifying complex that silences the cardiac fetal gene program and hypertrophy are O- GlcNAcylated and also interact with OGT. Despite this knowledge, the role of the O-GlcNAc pathway in regulating chromatin signaling and downstream cardiomyocyte hypertrophy in the heart has not yet been determined. In preliminary studies, we found increased cardiac O-GlcNAc levels following short-term consumption of a Western diet in young mice, O-GlcNAc-mediated blunting of hypertrophic signaling in isolated mouse cardiomyocytes, and identified several key chromatin proteins that have the potential for O-GlcNAcylation. As the Western diet and chronic increases in O-GlcNAc are both deleterious to cardiomyocytes, and OGT is a component of chromatin-modifying complexes, we propose to test the hypothesis that the Western diet modulates chromatin signaling in the heart via the O-GlcNAc pathway by undertaking two specific aims:
Specific Aim #1 : Identify O-GlcNAc-modified cardiac chromatin proteins Specific Aim #2: Determine if the O-GlcNAc pathway blunts cardiac hypertrophy by promoting formation of chromatin-modifying complexes The successful completion of the proposed studies will provide a better insight into the etiology of O-GlcNAc- and Western diet-induced alterations in the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying cardiomyocyte dysfunction. These findings will provide a foundation for the development of new and novel therapeutic targets for the prevention and treatment of cardiac pathology induced by the Western diet.

Public Health Relevance

Diets high in sugar and saturated fat (commonly referred to as """"""""Western"""""""" diets) are associated with the development of cardiovascular disease and can exert detrimental effects on the heart muscle independently of any changes in blood pressure, glucose or lipid levels. In preliminary experiments, we found that the Western diet also alters the attachment of sugars (O-GlcNAc) to proteins;this attachment has been linked to metabolic disease, and is elevated in the heart in response to diabetes. In this series of experiments, we propose to examine if increased O-GlcNAc production is responsible for altering mechanisms of gene expression and anticipate that our findings will provide a better understanding of the way in which poor nutrition promotes cardiovascular disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Myocardial Ischemia and Metabolism Study Section (MIM)
Program Officer
Ershow, Abby
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Washington State University
Schools of Pharmacy
United States
Zip Code
Johnson, Emily J; Dieter, Brad P; Marsh, Susan A (2015) Evidence for distinct effects of exercise in different cardiac hypertrophic disorders. Life Sci 123:100-6
Medford, Heidi M; Marsh, Susan A (2014) The role of O-GlcNAc transferase in regulating the gene transcription of developing and failing hearts. Future Cardiol 10:801-12
Medford, Heidi M; Cox, Emily J; Miller, Lindsey E et al. (2014) Consuming a Western diet for two weeks suppresses fetal genes in mouse hearts. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 306:R519-26
Marsh, Susan A; Collins, Helen E; Chatham, John C (2014) Protein O-GlcNAcylation and cardiovascular (patho)physiology. J Biol Chem 289:34449-56
Cox, Emily J; Marsh, Susan A (2014) A systematic review of fetal genes as biomarkers of cardiac hypertrophy in rodent models of diabetes. PLoS One 9:e92903
McLarty, Jennifer L; Marsh, Susan A; Chatham, John C (2013) Post-translational protein modification by O-linked N-acetyl-glucosamine: its role in mediating the adverse effects of diabetes on the heart. Life Sci 92:621-7
Medford, Heidi M; Porter, Karen; Marsh, Susan A (2013) Immediate effects of a single exercise bout on protein O-GlcNAcylation and chromatin regulation of cardiac hypertrophy. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 305:H114-23
Cox, Emily J; Marsh, Susan A (2013) Exercise and diabetes have opposite effects on the assembly and O-GlcNAc modification of the mSin3A/HDAC1/2 complex in the heart. Cardiovasc Diabetol 12:101
Marsh, Susan A; Davidoff, Amy J (2012) Heart smart insulin-like growth factor 1. Hypertension 59:550-1
Medford, H M; Chatham, J C; Marsh, S A (2012) Chronic ingestion of a Western diet increases O-linked-?-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) protein modification in the rat heart. Life Sci 90:883-8

Showing the most recent 10 out of 11 publications