Journal Article

Impact of HMG CoA reductase inhibition on small GTPases in the heart

Ulrich Laufs, Heiko Kilter, Christian Konkol, Sven Wassmann, Michael Böhm and Georg Nickenig

in Cardiovascular Research

Published on behalf of European Society of Cardiology

Volume 53, issue 4, pages 911-920
Published in print March 2002 | ISSN: 0008-6363
Published online March 2002 | e-ISSN: 1755-3245 | DOI:
Impact of HMG CoA reductase inhibition on small GTPases in the heart

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Objective: Members of the Rho GTPase family, Rac1 and RhoA have been suggested to be mediators of cardiac hypertrophy in mice. Rho proteins are posttranslationally isoprenylated. In addition to cholesterol-lowering, statins inhibit the isoprenylation of small G proteins. Therefore, it was tested if these drugs inhibit Rac1 and RhoA activity in cardiomyocytes and, thereby, prevent angiotensin II-mediated expression of atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) and myosin light chain (MLC)-2 in the heart. Methods and results: Western and Northern analysis of rat neonatal cardiomyocytes and H9C2 cells showed inhibition of basal and angiotensin-stimulated Rac1 expression, membrane-translocation and activity after statin treatment. Similarly, basal and stimulated RhoA membrane expression was inhibited. Statins concentration- and time-dependently downregulated basal as well as angiotensin-induced expression of ANF by 86±2.3% and 89±1.7%, as well as MLC-2 by 75±4.1% and 84±6%, respectively. Direct inhibition of Rac GTPase by overexpression of the dominant negative mutant RacN17 or by Clostridium sordellii lethal toxin in rat H9C2 cells inhibited ANF expression by 70±4.9% and 78±10%, respectively. Inhibition of RhoA by Clostridium botulinum C3 transferase or the dominant negative mutant RhoN19 reduced ANF mRNA by 19±11% and 23±8%, respectively. To test these findings in vivo, spontaneously hypertensive rats were treated with atorvastatin, leading to a decrease in cardiac Rac1 and RhoA activity as determined by [35S]-GTPγS-binding assays by 61±16% and 72±24%, and downregulation of MLC-2 as well as ANF mRNA expression by 31±16% and 80±24%, respectively. Conclusions: (1) Statins downregulate the activity of small G proteins in cardiomyocytes in culture as well as in vivo. (2) Inhibition of Rac1 and RhoA by statins reduces myocardial expression of ANF and MLC-2. (3) Targeting myocardial Rho GTPases by statins may be a novel treatment strategy to prevent cardiac hypertrophy.

Keywords: Myocytes; G-proteins; Gene expression; Lipid metabolism; Hypertrophy

Journal Article.  5197 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cardiovascular Medicine

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