Developmental pathways and gene function in canine myxomatous mitral valve disease
Lu, Chih Chien
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Canine myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD) is the most common cardiac disease in dogs affecting all breeds, and it shares many similarities with the equivalent human disease. From the only transcriptomic report for canine MMVD published in 2006, serotonin signalling was identified as a contributing factor and has been widely studied since. Two transcriptomic profiling studies in human MMVD have also identified oxidative stress response and bone morphogenic protein signalling contributing to disease pathology. All studies at the transcriptional level have identified a variety of biological functions in MMVD suggesting dynamic extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling processes are on-going. Moreover, cellular changes found in MMVD are somewhat reminiscent of the events seen in early heart valve, suggesting possible re-activation of signalling pathways of which those driving development and endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndoMT) are particularly interesting. EndoMT, in which endothelial cells change their identity to mesenchymal phenotype and migrate into the cardiac jelly underneath the endothelium, is a crucial mechanism in valvulogenesis. Whether or not gene regulation of EndoMT and valve development also plays a role in MMVD is unknown. In this study, the MMVD cellular changes in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (CKCS), a breed with the highest prevalence, earliest onset, and rapid progression of the disease, was investigated. Secondly, transcriptional profiling was conducted using the latest canine microarray chips, a single affected breed (CKCSs), stringent sample quality control and statistical thresholds, with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR) for data validation. After transcriptional mapping, multi-platform in silico analysis was conducted to identify relationship between differentially expressed genes and their relevant biological functions. Next, a comparison study using immunohistochemistry was performed on different severities of myxomatous valves to localize the proteins of interest. Finally, to model the transcriptional factors and their downstream targets, mitral valve endothelial cell (MVEC) clones were derived from the canine normal mitral valves for future in vitro studies. Cellular changes of MMVD between CKCS and non-CKCS populations showed no difference in their distribution, number and phenotypic markers. Global genomic expression analysis identified similar (inflammation, up-regulation of serotonin receptor and bone morphogenic protein) and novel biological functions (epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition) compared to the previous study in 2006. Key transcriptional factors and genes associated with EndoMT including SNAI1, TAGLN, ACTA2, ACTG2, HAS2, and CTNNB1 were found up-regulated, and NID1, LAMA2, CDH5 were down-regulated in the MMVD group. In myxomatous mitral valves, increased expression of HAS2 in myofibroblasts, SNAI1 expression in endothelial cells, and co-expression of CDH5 and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) also suggested the presence of EndoMT compared to normal valves. Nevertheless, there is also evidence of EndoMT in normal valves (α-SMA positive endothelial cells) which might suggest contribution to life-long valve re-modelling. In addition, there was a decreased expression of microRNAs associated with modulation of extracellular matrix transcripts, including miR-23, miR-29, and miR-218, indicating epigenetic regulation in MMVD. Based on the cellular changes, MMVD in CKCS appears to be representative of MMVD in all breeds and the early-onset of MMVD in that breed does not lead to different end-stage pathology. Novel biological functions such as EndoMT, were identified by transcriptional profiling, and by using powerful bioinformatic tools providing insight into understanding gene regulation in MMVD. Furthermore, a relationship between developmental biology processes and MMVD pathogenesis was established, with a likely important role for epigenetics in disease pathogenesis.