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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2008 Aug;45(2):193-7. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2008.05.005. Epub 2008 May 20.

The Kruppel-like factor KLF15 inhibits connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression in cardiac fibroblasts.

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Case Cardiovascular Research Institute, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine/University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Cardiac fibrosis is a hallmark feature of pathologic remodeling of the heart in response to hemodynamic or neurohormonal stress. Accumulating evidence implicates connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) as a key mediator of this process. Our group has previously identified Kruppel-Like Factor 15 (KLF15) as an important regulator of cardiac remodeling in response to stress; however, the role of this transcription factor in cardiac fibrosis has not been reported. Here we provide evidence that treatment of neonatal rat ventricular fibroblasts (NRVFs) with the potent pro-fibrotic agent Transforming Growth Factor-beta1 (TGFbeta1) strongly reduces KLF15 expression while inducing the pro-fibrotic factor CTGF. Adenoviral overexpression of KLF15 inhibits basal and TGFbeta1-induced CTGF expression in NRVFs. Furthermore, hearts from KLF15-/- mice subjected to aortic banding exhibited increased CTGF levels and fibrosis. From a mechanistic standpoint, KLF15 inhibits basal and TGFbeta1-mediated induction of the CTGF promoter. Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrate that KLF15 inhibits recruitment of the co-activator P/CAF to the CTGF promoter with no significant effect on Smad3-DNA binding. Consistent with this observation, KLF15 mediated repression of the CTGF promoter is rescued by P/CAF overexpression. Our result implicates KLF15 as a novel negative regulator of CTGF expression and cardiac fibrosis.

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