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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Jan 22;99(2):907-12. Epub 2002 Jan 8.

Activated glycogen synthase-3 beta suppresses cardiac hypertrophy in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 6000 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75390-9148, USA.


The adult myocardium responds to a variety of pathologic stimuli by hypertrophic growth that frequently progresses to heart failure. The calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein phosphatase calcineurin is a potent transducer of hypertrophic stimuli. Calcineurin dephosphorylates members of the nuclear factor of activated T cell (NFAT) family of transcription factors, which results in their translocation to the nucleus and activation of calcium-dependent genes. Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) phosphorylates NFAT proteins and antagonizes the actions of calcineurin by stimulating NFAT nuclear export. To determine whether activated GSK-3 can act as an antagonist of hypertrophic signaling in the adult heart in vivo, we generated transgenic mice that express a constitutively active form of GSK-3 beta under control of a cardiac-specific promoter. These mice were physiologically normal under nonstressed conditions, but their ability to mount a hypertrophic response to calcineurin activation was severely impaired. Similarly, cardiac-specific expression of activated GSK-3 beta diminished hypertrophy in response to chronic beta-adrenergic stimulation and pressure overload. These findings reveal a role for GSK-3 beta as an inhibitor of hypertrophic signaling in the intact myocardium and suggest that elevation of cardiac GSK-3 beta activity may provide clinical benefit in the treatment of pathologic hypertrophy and heart failure.

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