TGF-β/Smad3 stimulates stem cell/developmental gene expression and vascular smooth muscle cell de-differentiation

Xudong Shi, Daniel DiRenzo, Lian Wang Guo, Sarah R. Franco, Bowen Wang, Stephen Seedial, K. Craig Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Atherosclerotic-associated diseases are the leading cause of death in the United States. Despite recent progress, interventional treatments for atherosclerosis can be complicated by restenosis resulting from neo-intimal hyperplasia. We have previously demonstrated that TGF-β and its downstream signaling protein Smad3:1) are up-regulated following vascular injury, 2) together drive smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation and migration and 3) enhance the development of intimal hyperplasia. In order to determine a mechanism through which TGF-β/Smad3 promote these effects, Affymetrix gene expression arrays were performed on primary rat SMCs infected with Smad3 and stimulated with TGF-β or infected with GFP alone. More than 200 genes were differentially expressed (>2.0 fold change, p<0.05) in TGF-β/Smad3 stimulated SMCs. We then performed GO term enrichment analysis using the DAVID bioinformatics database and found that TGF-β/Smad3 activated the expression of multiple genes related to either development or cell differentiation, several of which have been shown to be associated with multipotent stem or progenitor cells. Quantitative real-time PCR confirmed upregulation of several developmental genes including FGF1, NGF, and Wnt11 (by 2.5, 6 and 7 fold, respectively) as well as stem/progenitor cell associated genes CD34 and CXCR4 (by 10 and 45 fold, respectively). In addition, up-regulation of these factors at protein levels were also confirmed by Western blotting, or by immunocytochemistry (performed for CXCR4 and NGF). Finally, TGF-β/Smad3 down regulated transcription of SMC contractile genes as well as protein production of smooth muscle alpha actin, calponin, and smooth muscle myosin heavy chain. These combined results suggest that TGF-β/Smad3 stimulation drives SMCs to a phenotypically altered state of de-differentiation through the up-regulation of developmental related genes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere93995
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
StatePublished - 9 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'TGF-β/Smad3 stimulates stem cell/developmental gene expression and vascular smooth muscle cell de-differentiation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this