Proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 downregulates peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor gamma to promote hypoxia-induced pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell proliferation


Hypoxia stimulates pulmonary hypertension (PH), in part by increasing the proliferation of human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (HPASMCs) via sustained activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase, extracellular signal–regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK 1/2), and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB); elevated expression of NADPH oxidase 4 (Nox4); and downregulation of peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) levels. However, the upstream mediators that control these responses remain largely unknown. We hypothesized that proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk2) plays a critical role in the mechanism of hypoxia-induced HPASMC proliferation. To test this hypothesis, HPASMCs were exposed to normoxia or hypoxia (1% O2) for 72 hours. Hypoxia activated Pyk2 (detected as Tyr402 phosphorylation), and inhibition of Pyk2 with small interfering RNA (siRNA) or tyrphostin A9 attenuated hypoxia-induced HPASMC proliferation. Pyk2 inhibition attenuated ERK 1/2 activation as early as 24 hours after the onset of hypoxia, suggesting a proximal role for Pyk2 in this response. Pyk2 inhibition also attenuated hypoxia-induced NF-κB activation, reduced HPASMC PPARγ messenger RNA levels and activity, and increased NF-κB-mediated Nox4 levels. The siRNA-mediated PPARγ knockdown enhanced Pyk2 activation, whereas PPARγ overexpression reduced Pyk2 activation in HPASMCs, confirming a reciprocal relationship between Pyk2 and PPARγ. Pyk2 depletion also attenuated hypoxia-induced NF-κB p65 activation and reduced PPARγ protein levels in human pulmonary artery endothelial cells. These in vitro findings suggest that Pyk2 plays a central role in the proliferative phenotype of pulmonary vascular wall cells under hypoxic conditions. Coupled with recent reports that hypoxia-induced PH is attenuated in Pyk2 knockout mice, these findings suggest that Pyk2 may represent a novel therapeutic target in PH.

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Pulmonary Hypertension
Signal and Image Processing and Analysis


Kaiser M. Bijli, Bum-Yong Kang, Roy L. Sutliff, C. Michael Hart

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Pulmonary Circulation Vol 6: No 2 cover image

June 2016

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 6: No 2

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