Vascular Injury Triggers Krüppel-Like Factor 6 (KLF6) Mobilization and Cooperation with Sp1 to Promote Endothelial Activation through Upregulation of the Activin Receptor-Like Kinase 1 (ALK1) Gene
Rationale: Activin receptor-Like Kinase-1 (ALK1) is an endothelial TGF-β receptor involved in angiogenesis. ALK1 expression is high in the embryo vasculature, becoming less detectable in the quiescent endothelium of adult stages. However, ALK1 expression becomes rapidly increased after angiogenic stimuli such as vascular injury.
Objective: To characterize the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of ALK1 upon vascular injury.
Methods and Results: Alk1 becomes strongly upregulated in endothelial (EC) and vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMC) of mouse femoral arteries after wire-induced endothelial denudation. In vitro, denudation of monolayers of Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (HUVEC) also leads to an increase in ALK1. Interestingly, a key factor in tissue remodeling, Krüppel-like factor 6 (KLF6), translocates to the cell nucleus during wound healing, concomitantly with an increase in the ALK1 gene transcriptional rate. KLF6 knock down in HUVECs promotes ALK1 mRNA downregulation. Moreover, Klf6+/- mice have lower levels of Alk1 in their vasculature compared with their wild type siblings. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays show that KLF6 interacts with ALK1 promoter in ECs, and this interaction is enhanced during wound healing. We demonstrate that KLF6 is transactivating ALK1 gene, and this transactivation occurs by a synergistic cooperative mechanism with Sp1. Finally, Alk1 levels in vSMCs are not directly upregulated in response to damage, but in response to soluble factors, such as IL-6, released from ECs after injury.
Conclusions: ALK1 is upregulated in ECs during vascular injury by a synergistic cooperative mechanism between KLF6 and Sp1, and in vSMCs by an EC-vSMC paracrine communication during vascular remodeling.
- Cell culture
- Endothelial cells
- Smooth muscle cells
- Transcription factors
- Vascular biology
- Vascular remodeling
- vascular injury
- Received June 15, 2012.
- Accepted October 9, 2012.
- Copyright © 2012, American Heart Association