Publications by authors named "Brittany G Durgin"

10 Publications

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Smooth muscle cell CYB5R3 preserves cardiac and vascular function under chronic hypoxic stress.

J Mol Cell Cardiol 2021 Sep 15;162:72-80. Epub 2021 Sep 15.

Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States of America; Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States of America; Center for Microvascular Research, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States of America. Electronic address:

Chronic hypoxia is a major driver of cardiovascular complications, including heart failure. The nitric oxide (NO) - soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) - cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) pathway is integral to vascular tone maintenance. Specifically, NO binds its receptor sGC within vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) in its reduced heme (Fe) form to increase intracellular cGMP production, activate protein kinase G (PKG) signaling, and induce vessel relaxation. Under chronic hypoxia, oxidative stress drives oxidation of sGC heme (Fe→Fe), rendering it NO-insensitive. We previously showed that cytochrome b5 reductase 3 (CYB5R3) in SMC is a sGC reductase important for maintaining NO-dependent vasodilation and conferring resilience to systemic hypertension and sickle cell disease-associated pulmonary hypertension. To test whether CYB5R3 may be protective in the context of chronic hypoxia, we subjected SMC-specific CYB5R3 knockout mice (SMC CYB5R3 KO) to 3 weeks hypoxia and assessed vascular and cardiac function using echocardiography, pressure volume loops and wire myography. Hypoxic stress caused 1) biventricular hypertrophy in both WT and SMC CYB5R3 KO, but to a larger degree in KO mice, 2) blunted vasodilation to NO-dependent activation of sGC in coronary and pulmonary arteries of KO mice, and 3) decreased, albeit still normal, cardiac function in KO mice. Overall, these data indicate that SMC CYB5R3 deficiency potentiates bilateral ventricular hypertrophy and blunts NO-dependent vasodilation under chronic hypoxia conditions. This implicates that SMC CYB5R3 KO mice post 3-week hypoxia have early stages of cardiac remodeling and functional changes that could foretell significantly impaired cardiac function with longer exposure to hypoxia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yjmcc.2021.09.005DOI Listing
September 2021

Angiotensin II augments renal vascular smooth muscle soluble GC expression via an AT receptor-forkhead box subclass O transcription factor signalling axis.

Br J Pharmacol 2021 May 7. Epub 2021 May 7.

Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

Background And Purpose: Reduced renal blood flow triggers activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) leading to renovascular hypertension. Renal vascular smooth muscle expression of the NO receptor, soluble GC (sGC), modulates the vasodilator response needed to control renal vascular tone and blood flow. Here, we tested if angiotensin II (Ang II) affects sGC expression via an AT receptor-forkhead box subclass O (FoxO) transcription factor dependent mechanism.

Experimental Approach: Using a murine two-kidney-one-clip (2K1C) renovascular hypertension model, we measured renal artery vasodilatory function and sGC expression. Additionally, we conducted cell culture studies using rat renal pre-glomerular smooth muscle cells (RPGSMCs) to test the in vitro mechanistic effects of Ang II treatment on sGC expression and downstream function.

Key Results: Contralateral, unclipped renal arteries in 2K1C mice showed increased NO-dependent vasorelaxation compared to sham control mice. Immunofluorescence studies revealed increased sGC protein expression in 2K1C contralateral renal arteries over sham controls. RPGSMCs treated with Ang II caused a significant up-regulation of sGC mRNA and protein expression as well as downstream sGC-dependent signalling. Ang II signalling effects on sGC expression occurred through an AT receptor and FoxO transcription factor-dependent mechanism at both the mRNA and protein expression levels.

Conclusion And Implications: Renal artery smooth muscle, in vivo and in vitro, up-regulates expression of sGC following RAAS activity. In both cases, up-regulation of sGC leads to increased downstream cGMP signalling, suggesting a previously unrecognized protective mechanism to improve renal blood flow in the uninjured contralateral renal artery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.15522DOI Listing
May 2021

Smooth muscle cytochrome b5 reductase 3 deficiency accelerates pulmonary hypertension development in sickle cell mice.

Blood Adv 2019 12;3(23):4104-4116

Pittsburgh Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute, Department of Medicine.

Pulmonary and systemic vasculopathies are significant risk factors for early morbidity and death in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). An underlying mechanism of SCD vasculopathy is vascular smooth muscle (VSM) nitric oxide (NO) resistance, which is mediated by NO scavenging reactions with plasma hemoglobin (Hb) and reactive oxygen species that can oxidize soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC), the NO receptor. Prior studies show that cytochrome b5 reductase 3 (CYB5R3), known as methemoglobin reductase in erythrocytes, functions in VSM as an sGC heme iron reductase critical for reducing and sensitizing sGC to NO and generating cyclic guanosine monophosphate for vasodilation. Therefore, we hypothesized that VSM CYB5R3 deficiency accelerates development of pulmonary hypertension (PH) in SCD. Bone marrow transplant was used to create SCD chimeric mice with background smooth muscle cell (SMC)-specific tamoxifen-inducible Cyb5r3 knockout (SMC R3 KO) and wild-type (WT) control. Three weeks after completing tamoxifen treatment, we observed 60% knockdown of pulmonary arterial SMC CYB5R3, 5 to 6 mm Hg elevated right-ventricular (RV) maximum systolic pressure (RVmaxSP) and biventricular hypertrophy in SS chimeras with SMC R3 KO (SS/R3KD) relative to WT (SS/R3WT). RV contractility, heart rate, hematological parameters, and cell-free Hb were similar between groups. When identically generated SS/R3 chimeras were studied 12 weeks after completing tamoxifen treatment, RVmaxSP in SS/R3KD had not increased further, but RV hypertrophy relative to SS/R3WT persisted. These are the first studies to establish involvement of SMC CYB5R3 in SCD-associated development of PH, which can exist in mice by 5 weeks of SMC CYB5R3 protein deficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2019000621DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6963246PMC
December 2019

Loss of smooth muscle CYB5R3 amplifies angiotensin II-induced hypertension by increasing sGC heme oxidation.

JCI Insight 2019 10 3;4(19). Epub 2019 Oct 3.

Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute, and.

Nitric oxide regulates BP by binding the reduced heme iron (Fe2+) in soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) and relaxing vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs). We previously showed that sGC heme iron reduction (Fe3+ → Fe2+) is modulated by cytochrome b5 reductase 3 (CYB5R3). However, the in vivo role of SMC CYB5R3 in BP regulation remains elusive. Here, we generated conditional smooth muscle cell-specific Cyb5r3 KO mice (SMC CYB5R3-KO) to test if SMC CYB5R3 loss affects systemic BP in normotension and hypertension via regulation of the sGC redox state. SMC CYB5R3-KO mice exhibited a 5.84-mmHg increase in BP and impaired acetylcholine-induced vasodilation in mesenteric arteries compared with controls. To drive sGC oxidation and elevate BP, we infused mice with angiotensin II. We found that SMC CYB5R3-KO mice exhibited a 14.75-mmHg BP increase, and mesenteric arteries had diminished nitric oxide-dependent vasodilation but increased responsiveness to sGC heme-independent activator BAY 58-2667 over controls. Furthermore, acute injection of BAY 58-2667 in angiotensin II-treated SMC CYB5R3-KO mice showed greater BP reduction compared with controls. Together, these data provide the first in vivo evidence to our knowledge that SMC CYB5R3 is an sGC heme reductase in resistance arteries and provides resilience against systemic hypertension development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.129183DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6795404PMC
October 2019

Antagonism of Forkhead Box Subclass O Transcription Factors Elicits Loss of Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase Expression.

Mol Pharmacol 2019 06 15;95(6):629-637. Epub 2019 Apr 15.

Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute (J.C.G., B.G.D., M.P.M., S.A.H., S.Y., K.C.W., A.C.S.) and Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology (J.C.G., A.C.S.), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Nitric oxide (NO) stimulates soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) activity, leading to elevated intracellular cyclic guanosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cGMP) and subsequent vascular smooth muscle relaxation. It is known that downregulation of sGC expression attenuates vascular dilation and contributes to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. However, it is not well understood how sGC transcription is regulated. Here, we demonstrate that pharmacological inhibition of Forkhead box subclass O (FoxO) transcription factors using the small-molecule inhibitor AS1842856 significantly blunts sGC and mRNA expression by more than 90%. These effects are concentration-dependent and concomitant with greater than 90% reduced expression of the known FoxO transcriptional targets, glucose-6-phosphatase and growth arrest and DNA damage protein 45 (Gadd45). Similarly, sGC and sGC protein expression showed a concentration-dependent downregulation. Consistent with the loss of sGC and mRNA and protein expression, pretreatment of vascular smooth muscle cells with the FoxO inhibitor decreased sGC activity measured by cGMP production following stimulation with an NO donor. To determine if FoxO inhibition resulted in a functional impairment in vascular relaxation, we cultured mouse thoracic aortas with the FoxO inhibitor and conducted ex vivo two-pin myography studies. Results showed that aortas have significantly blunted sodium nitroprusside-induced (NO-dependent) vasorelaxation and a 42% decrease in sGC expression after 48-hour FoxO inhibitor treatment. Taken together, these data are the first to identify that FoxO transcription factor activity is necessary for sGC expression and NO-dependent relaxation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/mol.118.115386DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527398PMC
June 2019

Interleukin-1β has atheroprotective effects in advanced atherosclerotic lesions of mice.

Nat Med 2018 09 23;24(9):1418-1429. Epub 2018 Jul 23.

Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA.

Despite decades of research, our understanding of the processes controlling late-stage atherosclerotic plaque stability remains poor. A prevailing hypothesis is that reducing inflammation may improve advanced plaque stability, as recently tested in the Canakinumab Anti-inflammatory Thrombosis Outcome Study (CANTOS) trial, in which post-myocardial infarction subjects were treated with an IL-1β antibody. Here, we performed intervention studies in which smooth muscle cell (SMC) lineage-tracing Apoe mice with advanced atherosclerosis were treated with anti-IL-1β or IgG control antibodies. Surprisingly, we found that IL-1β antibody treatment between 18 and 26 weeks of Western diet feeding induced a marked reduction in SMC and collagen content, but increased macrophage numbers in the fibrous cap. Moreover, although IL-1β antibody treatment had no effect on lesion size, it completely inhibited beneficial outward remodeling. We also found that SMC-specific knockout of Il1r1 (encoding IL-1 receptor type 1) resulted in smaller lesions nearly devoid of SMCs and lacking a fibrous cap, whereas macrophage-selective loss of IL-1R1 had no effect on lesion size or composition. Taken together, these results show that IL-1β has multiple beneficial effects in late-stage murine atherosclerosis, including promotion of outward remodeling and formation and maintenance of an SMC- and collagen-rich fibrous cap.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-018-0124-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6130822PMC
September 2018

Redox regulation of soluble guanylyl cyclase.

Nitric Oxide 2018 06 22;76:97-104. Epub 2018 Mar 22.

Pittsburgh Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Electronic address:

The nitric oxide/soluble guanylyl cyclase (NO-sGC) signaling pathway regulates the cardiovascular, neuronal, and gastrointestinal systems. Impaired sGC signaling can result in disease and system-wide organ failure. This review seeks to examine the redox control of sGC through heme and cysteine regulation while discussing therapeutic drugs that target various conditions. Heme regulation involves mechanisms of insertion of the heme moiety into the sGC protein, the molecules and proteins that control switching between the oxidized (Fe) and reduced states (Fe), and the activity of heme degradation. Modifications to cysteine residues by S-nitrosation on the α1 and β1 subunits of sGC have been shown to be important in sGC signaling. Moreover, redox balance and localization of sGC is thought to control downstream effects. In response to altered sGC activity due to changes in the redox state, many therapeutic drugs have been developed to target decreased NO-sGC signaling. The importance and relevance of sGC continues to grow as sGC dysregulation leads to numerous disease conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.niox.2018.03.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5916318PMC
June 2018

Redox control of vascular smooth muscle cell function and plasticity.

Lab Invest 2018 10 20;98(10):1254-1262. Epub 2018 Feb 20.

Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) play a major role in vascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis and hypertension. It has long been established in vitro that contractile SMC can phenotypically switch to function as proliferative and/or migratory cells in response to stimulation by oxidative stress, growth factors, and inflammatory cytokines. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are oxidative stressors implicated in driving vascular diseases, shifting cell bioenergetics, and increasing SMC proliferation, migration, and apoptosis. In this review, we summarize our current knowledge of how disruptions to redox balance can functionally change SMC and how this may influence vascular disease pathogenesis. Specifically, we focus on our current understanding of the role of vascular nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidases (NOX) 1, 4, and 5 in SMC function. We also review the evidence implicating mitochondrial fission in SMC phenotypic transitions and mitochondrial fusion in maintenance of SMC homeostasis. Finally, we discuss the importance of the redox regulation of the soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC)-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-protein kinase G (PKG) pathway as a potential oxidative and therapeutic target for regulating SMC function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41374-018-0032-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6102093PMC
October 2018

Smooth muscle cell-specific deletion of unexpectedly leads to impaired development of advanced atherosclerotic lesions.

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2017 May 10;312(5):H943-H958. Epub 2017 Mar 10.

Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia;

Atherosclerotic plaque rupture with subsequent embolic events is a major cause of sudden death from myocardial infarction or stroke. Although smooth muscle cells (SMCs) produce and respond to collagens in vitro, there is no direct evidence in vivo that SMCs are a crucial source of collagens and that this impacts lesion development or fibrous cap formation. We sought to determine how conditional SMC-specific knockout of collagen type XV (COL15A1) in SMC lineage tracing mice affects advanced lesion formation given that ) we have previously identified a sequence variant associated with age-related atherosclerosis, ) COL15A1 is a matrix organizer enhancing tissue structural integrity, and ) small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown increased migration and decreased proliferation of cultured human SMCs. We hypothesized that SMC-derived COL15A1 is critical in advanced lesions, specifically in fibrous cap formation. Surprisingly, we demonstrated that SMC-specific knockout mice fed a Western diet for 18 wk failed to form advanced lesions. SMC-specific knockout resulted in lesions reduced in size by 78%, with marked reductions in numbers and proliferating SMCs, and lacked a SMC and extracellular matrix-rich lesion or fibrous cap. In vivo RNA-seq analyses on SMC knockout and wild-type lesions suggested that a mechanism for these effects is through global repression of multiple proatherogenic inflammatory pathways involved in lesion development. These results provide the first direct evidence that a SMC-derived collagen, COL15A1, is critical during lesion pathogenesis, but, contrary to expectations, its loss resulted in marked attenuation rather than exacerbation of lesion pathogenesis. We report the first direct in vivo evidence that a smooth muscle cell (SMC)-produced collagen, collagen type XV (COL15A1), is critical for atherosclerotic lesion development. SMC knockout markedly attenuated advanced lesion formation, likely through reducing SMC proliferation and impairing multiple proatherogenic inflammatory processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpheart.00029.2017DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5451587PMC
May 2017

Defining the functional network of epigenetic regulators in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Mol Plant 2009 Jul 3;2(4):661-674. Epub 2009 Apr 3.

Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, Rutgers The State University of New Jersey, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA; Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, Rutgers The State University of New Jersey, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA. Electronic address:

Development of ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq technologies has allowed genome-wide high-resolution profiling of chromatin-associated marks and binding sites for epigenetic regulators. However, signals for directing epigenetic modifiers to their target sites are not understood. In this paper, we tested the hypothesis that genome location can affect the involvement of epigenetic regulators using Chromatin Charting (CC) Lines, which have an identical transgene construct inserted at different locations in the Arabidopsis genome. Four CC lines that showed evidence for epigenetic silencing of the luciferase reporter gene were transformed with RNAi vectors individually targeting epigenetic regulators LHP1, MOM1, CMT3, DRD1, DRM2, SUVH2, CLF, and HD1. Involvement of a particular epigenetic regulator in silencing the transgene locus in a CC line was determined by significant alterations in luciferase expression after suppression of the regulator's expression. Our results suggest that the targeting of epigenetic regulators can be influenced by genome location as well as sequence context. In addition, the relative importance of an epigenetic regulator can be influenced by tissue identity. We also report a novel approach to predict interactions between epigenetic regulators through clustering analysis of the regulators using alterations in gene expression of putative downstream targets, including endogenous loci and transgenes, in epigenetic mutants or RNAi lines. Our data support the existence of a complex and dynamic network of epigenetic regulators that serves to coordinate and control global gene expression in higher plants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mp/ssp017DOI Listing
July 2009
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