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Remodeling of the extracellular matrix plays a vital role in cardiovascular diseases. Using a mouse model of postnatal ascending aortic aneurysms (termed Fbln4SMKO), we have reported that abnormal mechanosensing led to aneurysm formation in Fbln4SMKO with an upregulation of the mechanosensitive transcription factor, Egr1 (Early growth response 1). However, the role of Egr1 and its upstream regulator(s) in the initiation of aneurysm development and their relationship to an aneurysmal microenvironment are unknown. Approach and Results: To investigate the contribution of Egr1 in the aneurysm development, we deleted Egr1 in Fbln4SMKO mice and generated double knockout mice (DKO, Fbln4SMKO; Egr1-/-). Aneurysms were prevented in DKO mice (42.8%) and Fbln4SMKO; Egr1+/- mice (26%). Ingenuity Pathway Analysis identified PAR1 (protease-activated receptor 1) as a potential Egr1 upstream gene. Protein and transcript levels of PAR1 were highly increased in Fbln4SMKO aortas at postnatal day 1 before aneurysm formed, together with active thrombin and MMP (matrix metalloproteinase)-9, both of which serve as a PAR1 activator. Concordantly, protein levels of PAR1, Egr1, and thrombin were significantly increased in human thoracic aortic aneurysms. In vitro cyclic stretch assays (1.0 Hz, 20% strain, 8 hours) using mouse primary vascular smooth muscle cells induced marked expression of PAR1 and secretion of prothrombin in response to mechanical stretch. Thrombin was sufficient to induce Egr1 expression in a PAR1-dependent manner. We propose that thrombin, MMP-9, and mechanical stimuli in the Fbln4SMKO aorta activate PAR1, leading to the upregulation of Egr1 and initiation of ascending aortic aneurysms.


Seung Jae Shin, Huynh Thuy Hang, Bui Quoc Thang, Tomonari Shimoda, Hiroaki Sakamoto, Motoo Osaka, Yuji Hiramatsu, Yoshito Yamashiro, Hiromi Yanagisawa. Role of PAR1-Egr1 in the Initiation of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm in Fbln4-Deficient Mice. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology. 2020 Aug;40(8):1905-1917

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PMID: 32580633

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