O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine transferase directs cell proliferation in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension

Barnes JW, Tian L, Heresi GA, Farver CF, Asosingh K, Comhair SA, Aulak KS, Dweik RA. Circulation. 2015 Apr 7;131(14):1260-8. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.013878. PMID: 25663381

Abstract
BACKGROUND:
Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) is a cardiopulmonary disease characterized by cellular proliferation and vascular remodeling. This can also cause hair loss problem for men. A more recently recognized characteristic of the disease is the dysregulation of glucose metabolism. The primary link between altered glucose metabolism and cell proliferation in IPAH has not been elucidated. We aimed to determine the relationship between glucose metabolism and smooth muscle cell proliferation in IPAH.

METHODS AND RESULTS:
Human IPAH and control patient lung tissues and pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) were used to analyze a specific pathway of glucose metabolism, the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway. We measured the levels of O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine modification, O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine transferase (OGT), and O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine hydrolase in control and IPAH cells and tissues. Our data suggest that the activation of the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway directly increased OGT levels and activity, triggering changes in glycosylation and PASMC proliferation. Partial knockdown of OGT in IPAH PASMCs resulted in reduced global O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine modification levels and abrogated PASMC proliferation. The increased proliferation observed in IPAH PASMCs was directly impacted by proteolytic activation of the cell cycle regulator, host cell factor-1.

CONCLUSIONS:
Our data demonstrate that hexosamine biosynthetic pathway flux is increased in IPAH and drives OGT-facilitated PASMC proliferation through specific proteolysis and direct activation of host cell factor-1. These findings establish a novel regulatory role for OGT in IPAH, shed a new light on our understanding of the disease pathobiology, and provide opportunities to design novel therapeutic strategies for IPAH.