The LIM-only protein FHL2, also known as DRAL or SLIM3, has a function in fine-tuning multiple physiological processes. FHL2 is expressed in the vessel wall in smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and endothelial cells and conflicting data have been reported on the regulatory function of FHL2 in SMC phenotype transition. At present the function of FHL2 in SMCs in vascular injury is unknown. Therefore, we studied the role of FHL2 in SMC-rich lesion formation. In response to carotid artery ligation FHL2-deficient (FHL2-KO) mice showed accelerated lesion formation with enhanced Ki67 expression compared with wild-type (WT)-mice. Consistent with these findings, cultured SMCs from FHL2-KO mice showed increased proliferation through enhanced phosphorylation of extracellular-regulated kinase-1/2 (ERK1/2) and induction of CyclinD1 expression. Overexpression of FHL2 in SMCs inhibited CyclinD1 expression and CyclinD1-knockdown blocked the enhanced proliferation of FHL2-KO SMCs. We also observed increased CyclinD1 promoter activity in FHL2-KO SMCs, which was reduced upon ERK1/2 inhibition. Furthermore, FHL2-KO SMCs showed enhanced migration compared with WT SMCs. In conclusion, FHL2 deficiency in mice results in exacerbated SMC-rich lesion formation involving increased proliferation and migration of SMCs via enhanced activation of the ERK1/2-CyclinD1 signaling pathway. © 2014 Kurakula et al.
Kurakula, K., Vos, M., Rubio, I. O., Marinković, G., Buettner, R., Heukamp, L. C., … De Vries, C. J. M. (2014). The LIM-only protein FHL2 reduces vascular lesion formation involving inhibition of proliferation and migration of smooth muscle cells. PLoS ONE, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0094931