Efficient transgene delivery is critical for genetic manipulation and therapeutic intervention of target cells. Two well-characterized integrative systems have been described that rely on viral and nonviral vectors. However, use of viral vectors for gene therapy has been associated with several safety concerns. Here, we report a virus-free method for stable transgenesis based on the reaction of retroviral integrase. We constructed a gateway cloning compatible vector containing two truncated long terminal repeat (LTR) sequences (dLTR) that flank the transgene cassette. Notably, 5'-ACTG-3' and blunt-end restriction cutting sites were also embedded at the end of dLTR to be recognized by HIV-1 integrase. When performing coinjection of transgene cassette and integrase mRNA into zebrafish embryos at one cell stage, there were 50% to 55% of injected embryos expressing a marker gene in a desired pattern. When applying our method in mammalian cells, there were 42% of cultured human epithelial cell lines showing stable integration. These results demonstrated that our method can successfully insert an exogenous gene into the host genome with highly efficient integration. Importantly, this system operates without most of the viral components while retaining effective stable transgenesis. We anticipate this method will provide a convenient, safe, and highly efficient way for applications in transgenesis and gene therapy.
The substantial increase in plastic pollution in marine ecosystems raises concerns about its adverse impacts on the microbial community. Microorganisms (bacteria, phytoplankton) are important producers of exopolymeric substances (EPS), which govern the processes of marine organic aggregate formation, microbial colonization, and pollutant mobility. Until now, the effects of nano- and micro-plastics on characteristics of EPS composition have received little attention. This study investigated EPS secretion by four phytoplankton species following exposure to various concentrations of polystyrene nano- and microplastics (55 nm nanoparticles; 1 and 6 μm microparticles). The 55 nm nanoparticles induced less growth/survival (determined on a DNA basis) and produced EPS with higher protein-to-carbohydrate (P/C) ratios than the exposure to microplastic particles. The amount of DNA from the four marine phytoplankton showed a higher negative linear correlation with increasing P/C ratios, especially in response to nanoplastic exposure. These results provide evidence that marine phytoplankton are quite sensitive to smaller-sized plastics and actively modify their EPS chemical composition to cope with the stress from pollution. Furthermore, the release of protein-rich EPS was found to facilitate aggregate formation and surface modification of plastic particles, thereby affecting their fate and colonization. Overall, this work offers new insights into the potential harm of different-sized plastic particles and a better understanding of the responding mechanism of marine phytoplankton for plastic pollution. The data also provide needed information about the fate of marine plastics and biogenic aggregation and scavenging processes.
The adult blood system is established by hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which arise during development from an endothelial-to-hematopoietic transition of cells comprising the floor of the dorsal aorta. Expression of aortic runx1 has served as an early marker of HSC commitment in the zebrafish embryo, but recent studies have suggested that HSC specification begins during the convergence of posterior lateral plate mesoderm (PLM), well before aorta formation and runx1 transcription. Further understanding of the earliest stages of HSC specification necessitates an earlier marker of hemogenic endothelium. Studies in mice have suggested that GATA2 might function at early stages within hemogenic endothelium. Two orthologs of Gata2 exist in zebrafish: gata2a and gata2b. Here, we report that gata2b expression initiates during the convergence of PLM, becoming restricted to emerging HSCs. We observe Notch-dependent gata2b expression within the hemogenic subcompartment of the dorsal aorta that is in turn required to initiate runx1 expression. Our results indicate that Gata2b functions within hemogenic endothelium from an early stage, whereas Gata2a functions more broadly throughout the vascular system.
The widespread availability of programmable site-specific nucleases now enables targeted gene disruption in the zebrafish. In this study, we applied site-specific nucleases to generate zebrafish lines bearing individual mutations in more than 20 genes. We found that mutations in only a small proportion of genes caused defects in embryogenesis. Moreover, mutants for ten different genes failed to recapitulate published Morpholino-induced phenotypes (morphants). The absence of phenotypes in mutant embryos was not likely due to maternal effects or failure to eliminate gene function. Consistently, a comparison of published morphant defects with the Sanger Zebrafish Mutation Project revealed that approximately 80% of morphant phenotypes were not observed in mutant embryos, similar to our mutant collection. Based on these results, we suggest that mutant phenotypes become the standard metric to define gene function in zebrafish, after which Morpholinos that recapitulate respective phenotypes could be reliably applied for ancillary analyses.
BACKGROUND: The understanding of endothelial cell biology has been facilitated by the availability of primary endothelial cell cultures from a variety of sites and species; however, the isolation and maintenance of primary mouse aortic endothelial cells (MAECs) remain a formidable challenge. Culturing MAECs is difficult as they are prone to phenotypic drift during culture. Therefore, there is a need to have a dependable in vitro culture system, wherein the primary endothelial cells retain their properties and phenotypes. METHODS: Here, we developed an effective method to prepare immortalized MAEC (iMAEC) lines. Primary MAECs, initially isolated from aortic explants, were immortalized using a retrovirus expressing polyoma middle T-antigen. Immortalized cells were then incubated with DiI-acetylated-low density lipoprotein and sorted via flow cytometry to isolate iMAECs. RESULTS: iMAECs expressed common markers of endothelial cells, including PECAM1, eNOS, VE-cadherin, and von Willebrand Factor. iMAECs aligned in the direction of imposed laminar shear and retained the ability to form tubes. Using this method, we have generated iMAEC lines from wild-type and various genetically modified mice such as p47phox-/-, eNOS-/-, and caveolin-1-/-. CONCLUSION: In summary, generation of iMAEC lines from various genetically modified mouse lines provides an invaluable tool to study vascular biology and pathophysiology.
Atherosclerosis preferentially occurs in arterial regions exposed to disturbed blood flow (d-flow), in part, due to alterations in gene expression in the endothelium. While numerous in vitro studies have shown how anti-atherogenic flow and pro-atherogenic flow differently regulate gene expression of cultured endothelial cells, similar in vivo studies have been scarce. Recently, we developed a mouse model of atherosclerosis that rapidly develops robust atherosclerosis by partially ligating the left carotid artery (LCA) branches, while using the contralateral right carotid (RCA) as control. We also developed a novel method to collect endothelial-enriched RNAs from the carotids of these animals, which enabled us to perform genome-wide expression analyses of mRNAs and miRNAs in the arterial endothelium exposed to either d-flow or s-flow. These microarray results were used to identify novel mechanosensitive genes such as DNA methyltransferase-1 and miR-712 that play key roles in atherosclerosis. Here, we report these endothelial mRNA and miRNA expression profiles with in-depth information on experimental procedures along with an example of usage of these data.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate cardiovascular biology and disease, but the role of flow-sensitive microRNAs in atherosclerosis is still unclear. Here we identify miRNA-712 (miR-712) as a mechanosensitive miRNA upregulated by disturbed flow (d-flow) in endothelial cells, in vitro and in vivo. We also show that miR-712 is derived from an unexpected source, pre-ribosomal RNA, in an exoribonuclease-dependent but DiGeorge syndrome critical region 8 (DGCR8)-independent manner, suggesting that it is an atypical miRNA. Mechanistically, d-flow-induced miR-712 downregulates tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 3 (TIMP3) expression, which in turn activates the downstream matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and a disintegrin and metalloproteases (ADAMs) and stimulate pro-atherogenic responses, endothelial inflammation and permeability. Furthermore, silencing miR-712 by anti-miR-712 rescues TIMP3 expression and prevents atherosclerosis in murine models of atherosclerosis. Finally, we report that human miR-205 shares the same 'seed sequence' as murine-specific miR-712 and also targets TIMP3 in a flow-dependent manner. Targeting these mechanosensitive 'athero-miRs' may provide a new treatment paradigm in atherosclerosis.
Epidemiological studies revealed increased renal cancer incidences and higher cancer mortalities in hypertensive individuals. Activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system leads to the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In vitro, in renal cells, and ex vivo, in the isolated perfused mouse kidney, we could show DNA-damaging potential of angiotensin II (Ang II). Here, the pathway involved in the genotoxicity of Ang II was investigated. In kidney cell lines with properties of proximal tubulus cells, an activation of NADPH oxidase and the production of ROS, resulting in the formation of DNA strand breaks and micronuclei induction, was observed. This DNA damage was mediated by the Ang II type 1 receptor (AT1R), together with the G protein G ( alpha-q/11 ) . Subsequently, phospholipase C (PLC) was activated and intracellular calcium increased. Both calcium stores of the endoplasmic reticulum and extracellular calcium were involved in the genotoxicity of Ang II. Downstream, a role for protein kinase C (PKC) could be detected, because its inhibition hindered Ang II from damaging the cells. Although PKC was activated, no involvement of its known target, the NADPH oxidase isoform containing the Nox2 subunit, could be found, as tested by small-interfering RNA down-regulation. Responsible for the DNA-damaging activity of Ang II was the NADPH oxidase isoform containing the Nox4 subunit. In summary, in kidney cells the DNA-damaging activity of Ang II depends on an AT1R-mediated activation of NADPH oxidase via PLC, PKC and calcium signalling, with the NADPH subunit Nox4 playing a crucial role.
Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease preferentially occurring in curved or branched arterial regions, whereas straight parts of the arteries are protected, suggesting a close relationship between flow and atherosclerosis. However, evidence directly linking disturbed flow to atherogenesis is just emerging, thanks to the recent development of suitable animal models. In this article, we review the status of various animal, in vitro, and ex vivo models that have been used to study flow-dependent vascular biology and atherosclerosis. For animal models, naturally flow-disturbed regions such as branched or curved arterial regions as well as surgically created models, including arterio-venous fistulas, vascular grafts, perivascular cuffs, and complete, incomplete, or partial ligation of arteries, are used. Although in vivo models provide the environment needed to mimic the complex pathophysiological processes, in vitro models provide simple conditions that allow the study of isolated factors. Typical in vitro models use cultured endothelial cells exposed to various flow conditions, using devices such as cone-and-plate and parallel-plate chambers. Ex vivo models using isolated vessels have been used to bridge the gap between complex in vivo models and simple in vitro systems. Here, we review these flow models in the context of the role of oxidative stress in flow-dependent inflammation, a critical proatherogenic step, and atherosclerosis.
The mechanisms by which oscillatory shear stress (OS) induces, while high laminar shear stress (LS) prevents, atherosclerosis are still unclear. Here, we examined the hypothesis that OS induces inflammatory response, a critical atherogenic event, in endothelial cells by a microRNA (miRNA)-dependent mechanism. By miRNA microarray analysis using total RNA from human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) that were exposed to OS or LS for 24 h, we identified 21 miRNAs that were differentially expressed. Of the 21 miRNAs, 13 were further examined by quantitative PCR, which validated the result for 10 miRNAs. Treatment of HUVECs with the miR-663 antagonist (miR-663-locked nucleic acids) blocked OS-induced monocyte adhesion, but not apoptosis. In contrast, overexpression of miR-663 increased monocyte adhesion in LS-exposed cells. Subsequent mRNA expression microarray study using HUVECs treated with miR-663-locked nucleic acids and OS revealed 32 up- and 3 downregulated genes, 6 of which are known to be involved in inflammatory response. In summary, we identified 10 OS-sensitive miRNAs, including miR-663, which plays a key role in OS-induced inflammatory responses by mediating the expression of inflammatory gene network in HUVECs. These OS-sensitive miRNAs may mediate atherosclerosis induced by disturbed flow.
Recently, we showed that disturbed flow caused by a partial ligation of mouse carotid artery rapidly induces atherosclerosis. Here, we identified mechanosensitive genes in vivo through a genome-wide microarray study using mouse endothelial RNAs isolated from the flow-disturbed left and the undisturbed right common carotid artery. We found 62 and 523 genes that changed significantly by 12 hours and 48 hours after ligation, respectively. The results were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction for 44 of 46 tested genes. This array study discovered numerous novel mechanosensitive genes, including Lmo4, klk10, and dhh, while confirming well-known ones, such as Klf2, eNOS, and BMP4. Four genes were further validated for protein, including LMO4, which showed higher expression in mouse aortic arch and in human coronary endothelium in an asymmetric pattern. Comparison of in vivo, ex vivo, and in vitro endothelial gene expression profiles indicates that numerous in vivo mechanosensitive genes appear to be lost or dysregulated during culture. Gene ontology analyses show that disturbed flow regulates genes involved in cell proliferation and morphology by 12 hours, followed by inflammatory and immune responses by 48 hours. Determining the functional importance of these novel mechanosensitive genes may provide important insights into understanding vascular biology and atherosclerosis.
An important aspect of vascular biology is the identification of regulators of stress-sensitive genes that play critical roles in mediating inflammatory response. Here, we show that expression of HuR in human umbilical vein endothelial cells is regulated by shear stress and statin treatment; HuR, in turn, regulates other stress-sensitive genes such as Kruppel-like factor 2 (Klf2), endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), and bone morphogenic protein 4 (BMP-4). We found that siRNA knockdown of HuR-inhibited inflammatory responses in endothelial cells, including ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 up-regulation, NFkappaB phosphorylation, and adhesion of monocytes. Tissue staining of the mouse aorta revealed increased HuR expression in the lesser curvature region of the arch that is exposed to disturbed flow, consistent with our in vitro data. Taken together, these results suggest that HuR plays a critical role in inducing inflammatory response of endothelial cells under mechanical and biochemical stresses.
Spatial variation in hemodynamic stresses acting on the arterial wall may explain the nonuniform distribution of atherosclerosis. In thoracic aortas of LDL receptor/apolipoprotein E double knockout mice, lesions develop preferentially around the entire circumference of intercostal branch ostia, regardless of age, with the highest prevalence occurring upstream. Additional chevron-shaped lesions occur further upstream of the ostia. This pattern differs from the age-related ones occurring in people and rabbits. In the present study, patterns of near-wall blood flow around intercostal ostia in wild-type mice were estimated from the morphology of endothelial nuclei, which were shown in vitro to elongate in response to elevated shear stress and to align with the flow, and wall structure was assessed from confocal and scanning electron microscopy. A triangular intimal cushion surrounded the upstream part of most ostia. Nuclear length-to-width ratios were lowest over this cushion and highest at the sides of branches, regardless of age. Nuclear orientations were consistent with flow diverging around the branch. The pattern of nuclear morphology differed from the age-related ones observed in rabbits. The intimal cushion and the distribution of shear stress inferred from these observations can partly account for the pattern of lesions observed in knockout mice. Nuclear elongation in nonbranch regions was approximately constant across animals of different size, demonstrating the existence of a mechanism by which endothelial cells compensate for the dependence of mean aortic wall shear stress on body mass.
Despite the well-known close association, direct evidence linking disturbed flow to atherogenesis has been lacking. We have recently used a modified version of carotid partial ligation methods to show that it acutely induces low and oscillatory flow conditions, two key characteristics of disturbed flow, in the mouse common carotid artery. Using this model, we have provided direct evidence that disturbed flow indeed leads to rapid and robust atherosclerosis development in Apolipoprotein E knockout mouse. We also developed a method of endothelial RNA preparation with high purity from the mouse carotid intima. Using this mouse model and method, we found that partial ligation causes endothelial dysfunction in a week, followed by robust and rapid atheroma formation in two weeks in a hyperlipidemic mouse model along with features of complex lesion formation such as intraplaque neovascularization by four weeks. This rapid in vivo model and the endothelial RNA preparation method could be used to determine molecular mechanisms underlying flow-dependent regulation of vascular biology and diseases. Also, it could be used to test various therapeutic interventions targeting endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis in considerably reduced study duration.
The association of integrins with caveolin-1 regulates cell adhesion. However, the vascular ramifications of this association remain to be clearly determined. We recently reported that the X chromosome-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP)-caveolin-1 interaction is critical to endothelial cell survival. Thus, we hypothesized that XIAP performs a crucial function in integrin/caveolin-1-mediated endothelial cell survival. In this study, we demonstrated that XIAP is recruited into the alpha(5)-integrin complex via caveolin-1 binding and mediates cell adhesion. We also determined that XIAP is critical to shear stress-stimulated ERK activation in an alpha(5)-integrin-dependent manner but is not important to VEGF-induced ERK activation. This differential activation of ERK is partly attributable to unique localizations of the receptors. Furthermore, we confirmed that XIAP is an essential molecule in the efficient recruitment of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) into the alpha(5)-integrin-associated complex. This alpha(5)-integrin-caveolin-1-XIAP-FAK multicomplex regulates endothelial cell migration via a mechanism that involves shear-dependent ERK activation. Together, our results indicate that XIAP stabilizes the alpha(5)-integrin-associated focal adhesion complex, thereby further regulating endothelial cell adhesion and migration. The findings of this study provide us with greater insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying the control of vascular function by integrins.
Atherosclerosis is closely associated with disturbed flow characterized by low and oscillatory shear stress, but studies directly linking disturbed flow to atherogenesis is lacking. The major reason for this has been a lack of an animal model in which disturbed flow can be acutely induced and cause atherosclerosis. Here, we characterize partial carotid ligation as a model of disturbed flow with characteristics of low and oscillatory wall shear stress. We also describe a method of isolating intimal RNA in sufficient quantity from mouse carotid arteries. Using this model and method, we found that partial ligation causes upregulation of proatherogenic genes, downregulation of antiatherogenic genes, endothelial dysfunction, and rapid atherosclerosis in 2 wk in a p47(phox)-dependent manner and advanced lesions by 4 wk. We found that partial ligation results in endothelial dysfunction, rapid atherosclerosis, and advanced lesion development in a physiologically relevant model of disturbed flow. It also allows for easy and rapid intimal RNA isolation. This novel model and method could be used for genome-wide studies to determine molecular mechanisms underlying flow-dependent regulation of vascular biology and diseases.
OBJECTIVE: Recently, we have shown that shear stress regulates the angiogenic potential of endothelial cells in vitro by an Angiopoietin-2 (Ang2)-dependent mechanism; however its pathophysiological significance in vivo was not clear. We hypothesized that Ang2 plays an important role in blood flow recovery after arterial occlusion in vivo by regulating angiogenesis and arteriogenesis. METHODS AND RESULTS: C57Bl/6J mice underwent femoral artery ligation and were injected with a specific Ang2 inhibitor, L1-10, or vehicle for 10 days. Ang2 mRNA was upregulated at day 2, and Ang2 protein was upregulated at day 2, 5, and 7 in the ligated hindlimb. L1-10 treatment significantly blunted blood flow recovery. L1-10 decreased smooth muscle cell coverage of neovessels without affecting capillary density, suggesting a specific role for Ang2 in arteriogenesis. Mechanistically, L1-10 decreased expression of intercellular and vascular cell adhesion molecules as well as infiltrating monocytes/macrophages in the ischemic tissue. Although L1-10 had no effect on the number of CD11b+ cells (monocytes/macrophages) mobilized in the bone marrow, it maintained elevated numbers of circulating CD11b+ cells in the peripheral blood. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that Ang2 induced in ischemic tissue plays a critical role in blood flow recovery by stimulating inflammation and arteriogenesis.
OBJECTIVE: Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease that involves inflammation, in which cytokines, including interferon-gamma (IFNgamma), participate. Endothelial cells (ECs) exposed to IFNgamma increase the expression of CXC chemokines. ECs subjected to laminar flow (LF) are atheroprotective, despite an unclear mechanism. This study was conducted to analyze whether ECs under LF were protected from IFNgamma-induced responses. METHODS: IFNgamma-treated human umbilical cord ECs were subjected to LF in a well-defined flow chamber system. IFNgamma-induced STAT1 activation and downstream target genes were examined. RESULTS: ECs exposed to IFNgamma triggered STAT1 activation via the phosphorylation of Tyr701 and Ser727 in STAT1. ECs exposed to LF alone did not activate STAT1. LF exposure of IFNgamma-treated ECs significantly attenuated IFNgamma-induced Tyr701 phosphorylation in a shear-force- and time-dependent manner, whereas Ser727 phosphorylation was unaffected. Consistently, LF inhibited IFNgamma-induced STAT1 binding to DNA. ECs treated with IFNgamma induced the expression of three T-cell-specific CXC chemokines (CXCL9, CXCL10 and CXCL11) as well as CIITA, a transcriptional regulator of major histocompatibility complex class II (MHCII). Consistently, LF exposure of IFNgamma-treated ECs reduced the expression of CXC chemokines and CIITA. CONCLUSIONS: LF attenuates IFNgamma-induced responses via the suppression of STAT1 activation. Inhibition by LF of the interferon-induced ECs' response may explain some aspects of LF's atheroprotective effects on the endothelium.
Atherogenesis is a chronic inflammatory response and intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1) induced by cytokines plays a role in this event. In this study, the molecular mechanisms of tumor neurosis factor alpha (TNFalpha)- and IL-6-induced ICAM-1 gene expression in endothelial cells (ECs) were examined. ECs infected with adenovirus carrying the dominant negative mutant of Rac (Ad-RacN17) exhibited inhibition in both TNFalpha- and IL-6-induced ICAM-1 expression. Consistently, ECs transfected with RacN17 inhibited both TNFalpha- and IL-6-induced ICAM-1 promoter activities. Functional analysis of ICAM-1 promoter, however, indicated that the cis-acting elements in response to TNFalpha and IL-6 are different. The NFkappaB binding site in the ICAM-1 promoter region was crucial for TNFalpha-induced ICAM-1 expression but not for the induction by IL-6. ECs infected with Ad-RacN17 attenuated the TNFalpha-induced NFkappaB binding activity. In contrast, IL-6 activated a transcriptional factor, signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (Stat3) via the phosphorylation of Tyr705 at Stat3. ECs transfected with the dominant negative mutant of Stat3 (Stat3F) demonstrated that Stat3 was required for IL-6-induced ICAM-1 gene expression. Interestingly, the phosphorylation of Tyr705 and Ser727 in Stat3 was greatly inhibited in IL-6-treated ECs previously infected with Ad-RacN17. Our data strongly indicated that ICAM-1 gene induction by TNFalpha and IL-6 is mediated mainly via NFkappaB and Stat3, respectively and Rac1 appears to play a central role in modulating cytokine-induced ICAM-1 expression in ECs.