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The AP-1 Transcription Factor Fosl-2 Regulates Autophagy in Cardiac Fibroblasts during Myocardial Fibrogenesis

Journal Paper/Review - Feb 13, 2021

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Seidenberg J, Stellato M, Hukara A, Ludewig B, Klingel K, Distler O, Błyszczuk P, Kania G. The AP-1 Transcription Factor Fosl-2 Regulates Autophagy in Cardiac Fibroblasts during Myocardial Fibrogenesis. Int J Mol Sci 2021; 22
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Journal Paper/Review (English)
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Int J Mol Sci 2021; 22
Publication Date
Feb 13, 2021
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1422-0067
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BACKGROUND
Pathological activation of cardiac fibroblasts is a key step in development and progression of cardiac fibrosis and heart failure. This process has been associated with enhanced autophagocytosis, but molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown.

METHODS AND RESULTS
Immunohistochemical analysis of endomyocardial biopsies showed increased activation of autophagy in fibrotic hearts of patients with inflammatory cardiomyopathy. In vitro experiments using mouse and human cardiac fibroblasts confirmed that blockade of autophagy with Bafilomycin A1 inhibited fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transition induced by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Next, we observed that cardiac fibroblasts obtained from mice overexpressing transcription factor Fos-related antigen 2 (Fosl-2tg) expressed elevated protein levels of autophagy markers: the lipid modified form of microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3B (LC3BII), Beclin-1 and autophagy related 5 (Atg5). In complementary experiments, silencing of Fosl-2 with antisense GapmeR oligonucleotides suppressed production of type I collagen, myofibroblast marker alpha smooth muscle actin and autophagy marker Beclin-1 in cardiac fibroblasts. On the other hand, silencing of either LC3B or Beclin-1 reduced Fosl-2 levels in TGF-β-activated, but not in unstimulated cells. Using a cardiac hypertrophy model induced by continuous infusion of angiotensin II with osmotic minipumps, we confirmed that mice lacking either Fosl-2 (Ccl19CreFosl2flox/flox) or Atg5 (Ccl19CreAtg5flox/flox) in stromal cells were protected from cardiac fibrosis.

CONCLUSION
Our findings demonstrate that Fosl-2 regulates autophagocytosis and the TGF-β-Fosl-2-autophagy axis controls differentiation of cardiac fibroblasts. These data provide a new insight for the development of pharmaceutical targets in cardiac fibrosis.