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Am J Pathol. 2013 Jun;182(6):2391-406. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2013.02.039. Epub 2013 Apr 11.

Endothelial GATA-6 deficiency promotes pulmonary arterial hypertension.

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Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a chronic and progressive disease characterized by pulmonary vasculopathy with elevation of pulmonary artery pressure, often culminating in right ventricular failure. GATA-6, a member of the GATA family of zinc-finger transcription factors, is highly expressed in quiescent vasculature and is frequently lost during vascular injury. We hypothesized that endothelial GATA-6 may play a critical role in the molecular mechanisms underlying endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction in PAH. Here we report that GATA-6 is markedly reduced in pulmonary ECs lining both occluded and nonoccluded vessels in patients with idiopathic and systemic sclerosis-associated PAH. GATA-6 transcripts are also rapidly decreased in rodent PAH models. Endothelial GATA-6 is a direct transcriptional regulator of genes controlling vascular tone [endothelin-1, endothelin-1 receptor type A, and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS)], pro-inflammatory genes, CX3CL1 (fractalkine), 5-lipoxygenease-activating protein, and markers of vascular remodeling, including PAI-1 and RhoB. Mice with the genetic deletion of GATA-6 in ECs (Gata6-KO) spontaneously develop elevated pulmonary artery pressure and increased vessel muscularization, and these features are further exacerbated in response to hypoxia. Furthermore, innate immune cells including macrophages (CD11b(+)/F4/80(+)), granulocytes (Ly6G(+)/CD45(+)), and dendritic cells (CD11b(+)/CD11c(+)) are significantly increased in normoxic Gata6-KO mice. Together, our findings suggest a critical role of endothelial GATA-6 deficiency in development and disease progression in PAH.

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