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Cardiac aging is a critical determinant of cardiac dysfunction, which contributes to cardiovascular disease in the elderly. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 6 (PCSK6) is a proteolytic enzyme important for the maintenance of cardiac function and vascular homeostasis. To date, the involvement of PCSK6 in cardiac aging remains unknown. Here we report that PCSK6 expression decreased in the hearts of aged mice, where high levels cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (P16) and cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor 1A (P21) (senescence markers) were observed. Moreover, PCSK6 protein expression was significantly reduced in senescent rat embryonic cardiomyocytes (H9c2) induced by D-galactose. Pcsk6 knockdown in H9c2 cells increased P16 and P21 expression levels and senescence-associated beta-galactosidase activity. Pcsk6 knockdown also impaired cardiomyocyte function, as indicated by increased advanced glycation end products, reactive oxygen species level, and apoptosis. Overexpression of PCSK6 blunted the senescence phenotype and cellular dysfunction. Furthermore, RNA sequencing analysis in Pcsk6-knockdown H9c2 cells identified the up-regulated DNA-damage inducible transcript 3 (Ddit3) gene involved in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) protein processing. Additionally, DDIT3 protein levels were remarkably increased in aged mouse hearts. In the presence of tunicamycin, an ER stress inducer, DDIT3 expression increased in Pcsk6-deficient H9c2 cells but reduced in PCSK6-overexpressing cells. In conclusion, our findings indicate that PCSK6 modulates cardiomyocyte senescence possibly via DDIT3-mediated ER stress.


Wenxing Zhan, Liping Chen, Hongfei Liu, Changkun Long, Jiankun Liu, Shuangjin Ding, Qingyu Wu, Shenghan Chen. Pcsk6 Deficiency Promotes Cardiomyocyte Senescence by Modulating Ddit3-Mediated ER Stress. Genes. 2022 Apr 18;13(4)

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PMID: 35456517

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