Rare, Nonsynonymous Variant in the Smooth Muscle-Specific Isoform of Myosin Heavy Chain, MYH11, R247C, Alters Force Generation in the Aorta and Phenotype of Smooth Muscle Cells
Rationale: Mutations in myosin heavy chain (MYH11) cause autosomal dominant inheritance of thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections. At the same time, rare, nonsynonymous variants in MYH11 that are predicted to disrupt protein function but do not cause inherited aortic disease are common in the general population and the vascular disease risk associated with these variants is unknown.
Objective: To determine the consequences of the recurrent MYH11 rare variant, R247C, through functional studies in vitro and analysis of a knock-in mouse model with this specific variant, including assessment of aortic contraction, response to vascular injury, and phenotype of primary aortic smooth muscle cells (SMCs).
Methods and Results: The steady state ATPase activity (actin-activated) and the rates of phosphate and ADP release were lower for the R247C mutant myosin than for the wild-type, as was the rate of actin filament sliding in an in vitro motility assay. Myh11R247C/R247C mice exhibited normal growth, reproduction, and aortic histology but decreased aortic contraction. In response to vascular injury, Myh11R247C/R247C mice showed significantly increased neointimal formation due to increased SMC proliferation when compared with the wild-type mice. Primary aortic SMCs explanted from the Myh11R247C/R247C mice were dedifferentiated compared with wild-type SMCs based on increased proliferation and reduced expression of SMC contractile proteins. The mutant SMCs also displayed altered focal adhesions and decreased Rho activation, associated with decreased nuclear localization of myocardin-related transcription factor-A. Exposure of the Myh11R247C/R247C SMCs to a Rho activator rescued the dedifferentiated phenotype of the SMCs.
Conclusions: These results indicate that a rare variant in MYH11, R247C, alters myosin contractile function and SMC phenotype, leading to increased proliferation in vitro and in response to vascular injury.
- smooth muscle myosin heavy chain
- thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections
- smooth muscle differentiation
- mouse model
- Received November 29, 2011.
- Revision received April 2, 2012.
- Accepted April 9, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.