The mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase MEK1 stimulates a pattern of gene expression typical of the hypertrophic phenotype in rat ventricular cardiomyocytes.
Gillespie-Brown J., Fuller SJ., Bogoyevitch MA., Cowley S., Sugden PH.
Adult mammalian ventricular cardiomyocytes are terminally differentiated cells that enlarge adaptively by hypertrophy. In this situation, genes normally expressed in the fetal ventricular cardiomyocyte (e.g. atrial natriuretic factor (ANF), beta-myosin heavy chain (beta-MHC), and skeletal muscle (SkM) alpha-actin) are re-expressed, and there is transient expression of immediate early genes (e.g. c-fos). Using appropriate reporter plasmids, we studied the effects of transfection of the constitutively active or dominant negative mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase MEK1 on ANF, beta-MHC, and SkM alpha-actin promoter activities in cultured ventricular cardiomyocytes. ANF expression was stimulated (maximally 75-fold) by the hypertrophic agonist phenylephrine in a dose-dependent manner (EC50, 10 microM), and this stimulation was inhibited by dominant negative MEK1. Cotransfection of dominant negative MEK1 with a dominant negative mitogen-activated protein kinase (extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK2)) increased this inhibition. Transfection with constitutively active MEK1 constructs doubled ANF promoter activity. The additional cotransfection of wild-type ERK2 stimulated ANF promoter activity by about 5-fold. Expression of beta-MHC and SkM alpha-actin was also stimulated. Promoter activity regulated by activator protein-1 or c-fos serum response element consensus sequences was also increased. We conclude that the MEK1/ERK2 cascade may play a role in regulating gene expression during hypertrophy.