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Circ Res. 2000 Nov 10;87(10):881-7.

Retinoic acid-induced tissue transglutaminase and apoptosis in vascular smooth muscle cells.

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  • 1Center for Cardiovascular Research, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, USA.


Retinoids exert antiproliferative and prodifferentiating effects in vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and reduce neointimal mass in balloon-injured blood vessels. The mechanisms through which retinoids carry out these effects are unknown but likely involve retinoid receptor-mediated changes in gene expression. Here we report the cloning, chromosomal mapping, and biological activity of the retinoid-response gene rat tissue transglutaminase (tTG). Northern blotting studies showed that tTG is rapidly and dose-dependently induced in a protein synthesis-independent manner after stimulation with the natural retinoid all-trans retinoic acid (atRA). The induction of tTG was selective for atRA and its stereoisomers 9-cis and 13-cis RA, because little or no elevation in mRNA expression was observed with a panel of growth factors. Western blotting and immunofluorescence confocal microscopy showed an accumulation of cytosolic tTG protein after atRA stimulation. Radiolabeled cross-linking studies revealed a corresponding elevation in in vitro tTG activity. The increase in tTG activity was reduced in the presence of 2 distinct inhibitors of tTG (monodansylcadaverine and cystamine). atRA-induced tTG mRNA and protein expression were followed by a significant elevation in SMC apoptosis. Such retinoid-induced programmed cell death could be partially inhibited with each tTG inhibitor and was completely blocked when both inhibitors were used simultaneously. These results establish a role for atRA in the sequential stimulation of tTG and apoptosis in cultured SMCs. atRA-mediated apoptosis in SMCs seems to require the participation of active tTG, suggesting a potential mechanistic link between this retinoid-inducible gene and programmed cell death.

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