Subcellular Mechanisms in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension: Combinatorial Modalities that Inhibit Anterograde Trafficking and Cause Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptor Type 2 Mislocalization

PVRI Member Authors: Kirk B Lane


The natural history of familial pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) typically involves mutations in and/or haploinsuffciency of BMPR2 (gene for bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2) but with low penetrance (10%–15%), delayed onset (in the third or fourth decade), and a gender bias (two- to fourfold more prevalent in postpubertal women). Thus, investigators have sought an understanding of “second-hit” modalities that might affect BMPR2 anterograde trafficking and/or function. Indeed, vascular lung lesions in PAH have been reported to contain enlarged “vacuolated” endothelial and smooth muscle cells with dilated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) cisternae, increased ER structural protein reticulon 4 (also called Nogo-B), and enlarged and fragmented Golgi apparatus. We recently replicated this cellular phenotype in primary human pulmonary arterial endothelial cells and human pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells in culture by acute knockdown of the estradiol 17β (E2)–responsive proteins signal transducer and activator of transcription 5a (STAT5a) and STAT5b using small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). We have now investigated whether functional haploinsufficiences of these molecules, alone or in combination with other modalities, might interfere with anterograde membrane trafficking using (a) the quantitative tsO45VSV-G-GFP trafficking assay and (b) assays for cell-surface localization of Flag-tagged BMPR2 molecules. The G glycoprotein of the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV-G) trafficking assay was validated in EA.hy926 endothelial cells by showing that cells exposed to monocrotaline pyrrole displayed reduced anterograde trafficking. Thereafter, the combinatorial knockdowns of STAT5a, STAT5b, BMPR2, and/or endothelial nitric oxide synthase as well as exposure to E2 or 2-methoxyestradiol were observed to significantly inhibit VSV-G trafficking. These combinations also led to intracellular trapping of wild-type Flag-tagged BMPR2. Overexpression of the PAH disease–derived F14 and KDF mutants of BMPR2, which were trapped in the ER/Golgi, also inhibited VSV-G trafficking in trans. Moreover, probenecid, a chemical chaperone in clinical use today, partially restored cell-surface localization of the KDF but not the F14 mutant. These data identify several combinatorial modalities that inhibit VSV-G anterograde trafficking and cause mislocalization of BMPR2. These modalities merit consideration in defining aspects of the late-developing and gender-biased natural history of human PAH.

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Endothelin and Endothelium & Epithelium and Epithelial Transport
Gender Differences in Pulmonary Vascular Disease
Pulmonary Vascular Remodeling


Yang-Ming Yang, Kirk B. Lane, Pravin B. Sehgal

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Pulmonary Circulation Vol 3: No 3 cover image

September 2013

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 3: No 3

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