Mechanism of Arsenical Toxicity on TGFβ Signaling and Genetic Regulation During Cardiac Progenitor Cell Differentiation
AdvisorCamenisch, Todd D.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractLow to moderate level of chronic arsenic exposure contributes to cardiovascular ailments including heart disease and aneurysms. Current research on the etiology and progression of cardiovascular disease focuses mainly on adult which fails to capture the developmental origins of cardiovascular disease. Thus, disruption in morphogenetic events during early development may initiate and pattern the molecular programming of cardiovascular ailments in adulthood. A major contributor to ischemic heart pathologies is coronary artery disease, however the influences by environmental arsenic in this disease process are not known. Similarly, the impact of toxicants on blood vessel formation and function during development has not been studied. Coronary vessel development is initiated by precursor cells that are derived from the epicardium. Epicardial derived cells undergo proliferate, migrate, and differentiate into several cardiac cell types which are the cellular components of the coronary vessels. The key cellular event occurs in this process is the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), which can also be utilized by endocardial cushion cells to form aortic and pulmonary valves. The TGFβ family of ligands and receptors are essential for developmental cardiac EMT and coronary smooth muscle cell differentiation. Whether arsenic has any impact on TGFβ mediated cardiovasculogenesis is not known. Monomethylarsonous acid [MMA(III)] is the most potent metabolite of inorganic arsenic and has been shown to partly account for arsenic induced toxicity. The fetus is exposed to relatively higher levels of MMA (III) as compared to adults probably due to deficiency in methylation of transferred inorganic arsenic from the placenta. However, the developmental toxicity of MMA (III) has not yet been studied. In this study, we exploit a novel cardiac progenitor cell line to recapitulate epicardial EMT in vitro and to study developmental toxicity caused by arsenicals. We show that chronic exposure to low level of arsenite and MMA (III) disrupts developmental EMT programming in epicardial cells causing deficits in cardiac mesenchyme production. The expression of EMT program genes is also decreased in a dose-dependent manner following exposure to arsenite and MMA (III). Smad-dependent TGFβ2 canonical signaling and the non-canonical Erk signaling pathways are abrogated as detected by decreases in phosphorylated Smad2/3, Erk1/2 and Erk5 proteins. There is also loss of nuclear accumulation of p-Smad and p-Erk5 due to arsenical exposure. These observations coincide with a decrease in vimentin positive mesenchymal cells invading three-dimensional collagen gels. However, arsenicals do not block TGFβ2 stimulated p38 activation. Additionally, smooth muscle cell differentiation, which is proven to be governed by p38 signaling in epicardial cells, also remains intact with arsenical exposure. Overall these results show that arsenite and MMA (III) are strong and selective cardiac silencers. The molecular mechanisms of arsenical toxicity on TGFβ-Smad signaling in epicardial cells is further explored. A relatively high level of acute arsenical exposure rapidly depletes phosphorylated nuclear Smad2/3. Restoration of the nuclear accumulation of Smads can be achieved by inhibiting the expression or activation of Smad specific exportins suggesting that arsenicals augment Smad nuclear exportation. Abrogated Smad signaling caused by arsenicals is associated with severe deficits in EMT during mouse epicardium and chick endocardial cushion development. Thus progenitor cell outgrowth, migration, invasion and vimentin filament reorganization are significantly inhibited in response to arsenical exposure. Disrupted Smad nuclear shuffling is probably caused by zinc displacement on the MH-1 DNA binding domain of Smad2/3. Thus zinc supplementation restores both nuclear content and transcriptional activities of Smad2/3. Rescued TGFβ-Smad signaling by zinc also contributes to cellular transformation and mesenchyme production in embryonic heart explants. LINE1 (L1) retrotransposons are a group of mobile DNA elements that shape the genome via novel epigenetic controls. Although expression of L1 is required for early embryo implantation and development, abnormally elevated L1 is shown to inhibit embryonic cells from transforming and differentiating during organogenesis. Cellular redox signaling, which is regulated by antioxidant responsive elements (AREs), has been shown to play a key role in L1 activation and retrotransposition. However, whether L1 can be induced by the cellular oxidative stress caused by arsenic is not known. We provide evidence showing that L1 ORF-1 and ORF-2 mRNA levels are both up-regulated by arsenic. Nuclear accumulation of L1 ORF-2 is observed in response to 30 min arsenic exposure, which may lead to active retrotransposition events in the genome. Transcriptional activity of L1 is regulated by Nrf2 as mutations in ARE regions within the L1 promoter and Nrf2 silencing using siRNA both significantly inhibit L1 transcriptional activity. Nrf2 overexpression together with arsenic exposure creates synergic induction in L1 promoter activity suggesting that arsenic mediated L1 activation is partially Nrf2 dependent. Taken together, these findings reveal a molecular mechanism responsible for arsenic cardiac toxicity and define a novel genetic toxic effect of arsenic during embryonic heart development.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Pharmacology & Toxicology