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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010 Dec;299(6):H2056-68. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00394.2010. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Cardiac-specific overexpression of dominant-negative CREB leads to increased mortality and mitochondrial dysfunction in female mice.

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School of Medicine, Health Sciences Center, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado 80045, USA.


Cardiac failure is associated with diminished activation of the transcription factor cyclic nucleotide regulatory element binding-protein (CREB), and heart-specific expression of a phosphorylation-deficient CREB mutant in transgenic mice [dominant negative CREB (dnCREB) mice] recapitulates the contractile phenotypes of cardiac failure (Fentzke RC, Korcarz CE, Lang RM, Lin H, Leiden JM. Dilated cardiomyopathy in transgenic mice expressing a dominant-negative CREB transcription factor in the heart. J Clin Invest 101: 2415-2426, 1998). In the present study, we demonstrated significantly elevated mortality and contractile dysfunction in female compared with male dnCREB mice. Female dnCREB mice demonstrated a 21-wk survival of only 17% compared with 67% in males (P < 0.05) and exclusively manifest decreased cardiac peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α and estrogen-related receptor-α content, suggesting sex-related effects on cardiac mitochondrial function. Hearts from 4-wk-old dnCREB mice of both sexes demonstrated diminished mitochondrial respiratory capacity compared with nontransgenic controls. However, by 12 wk of age, there was a significant decrease in mitochondrial density (citrate synthase activity) and deterioration of mitochondrial structure, as demonstrated by transmission electron microscopy, in female dnCREB mice, which were not found in male transgenic littermates. Subsarcolemmal mitochondria isolated from hearts of female, but not male, dnCREB mice demonstrated increased ROS accompanied by decreases in the expression/activity of the mitochondrial antioxidants MnSOD and glutathione peroxidase. These results demonstrate that heart-specific dnCREB expression results in mitochondrial respiratory dysfunction in both sexes; however, increased oxidant burden, reduced antioxidant expression, and disrupted mitochondrial structure are exacerbated by the female sex, preceding and contributing to the greater contractile morbidity and mortality. These results provide further support for the role of the CREB transcription factor in regulating mitochondrial integrity and identify a critical pathway that may contribute to sex differences in heart failure.

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