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  • 1
    Abstract: OBJECTIVES: DKK3 (dickkopf 3), a 36-kD secreted glycoprotein, has been shown to be involved in the differentiation of partially reprogrammed cells and embryonic stem cells to smooth muscle cells (SMCs), but little is known about its involvement in vascular disease. This study aims to assess the effects of DKK3 on atherosclerotic plaque composition. APPROACH AND RESULTS: In the present study, we used a murine model of atherosclerosis (ApoE(-/-)) in conjunction with DKK3(-/-) and performed tandem stenosis of the carotid artery to evaluate atherosclerotic plaque development. We found that the absence of DKK3 leads to vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques, because of a reduced number of SMCs and reduced matrix protein deposition, as well as increased hemorrhage and macrophage infiltration. Further in vitro studies revealed that DKK3 can induce differentiation of Sca1(+) vascular progenitors and fibroblasts into SMCs via activation of the TGF-beta (transforming growth factor-beta)/ATF6 and Wnt signaling pathways. Finally, we assessed the therapeutic potential of DKK3 in mouse and rabbit models and found that DKK3 altered the atherosclerotic plaque content via increasing SMC numbers and reducing vascular inflammation. CONCLUSIONS: Cumulatively, we provide the first evidence that DKK3 is a potent SMC differentiation factor, which might have a therapeutic effect in reducing intraplaque hemorrhage related to atherosclerotic plaque phenotype.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 29284609
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  • 2
    Keywords: NERVOUS-SYSTEM ; HEAD INDUCTION ; SECRETED PROTEINS ; SPEMANN ORGANIZER ; XENOPUS EMBRYOS ; CELL FATE ; PRECHORDAL PLATE ; ZEBRAFISH DKK1 ; ANTERIOR NEURAL PLATE ; KRINGLE DOMAINS
    Abstract: A gradient of Wnt/beta-catenin signalling formed by posteriorising Wnts and anteriorising Wnt antagonists regulates anteroposterior (AP) patterning of the central nervous system (CNS) during Xenopus gastrulation. In this process, the secreted Wnt antagonist Dkk1 functions in the Spemann organiser and its anterior derivatives by blocking Wnt receptors of the lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP) 5 and 6 class. In addition to LRP6, Dkk1 interacts with another recently identified receptor class, the transmembrane proteins Kremen1 (Krm1) and Kremen2 (Krm2) to synergistically inhibit LRP6. We have investigated the role of Krm1 and Krm2 during early Xenopus embryogenesis. Consistent with a role in zygotic Wnt inhibition, overexpressed Krm anteriorises embryos and rescues embryos posteriorised by Wnt8. Antisense morpholino oligonucleotide (Mo) knockdown of Krm1 and Krm2 leads to deficiency of anterior neural development. In this process, Krm proteins functionally interact with Dkk1: (1) in axis duplication assays krm2 synergises with dkk1 in inhibiting Wnt/LRP6 signalling; (2) krm2 rescues microcephalic embryos induced by injection of inhibitory anti-Dkk1 antibodies; and (3) injection of krm1/2 antisense Mo enhances microcephaly induced by inhibitory anti-Dkk1 antibodies. The results indicate that Krm proteins function in a Wnt inhibition pathway regulating early AP patterning of the CNS.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 12421700
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  • 3
    Abstract: Background -Dickkopf-related protein (DKK) 3 is a secreted protein that is involved in the regulation of cardiac remodeling and vascular smooth muscle cell differentiation, but little is known about its role in atherosclerosis. Methods -We tested the hypothesis that DKK3 is atheroprotective using both epidemiological and experimental approaches. Blood DKK3 levels were measured in the Bruneck Study in 2000 (n=684) and then in 2005 (n=574). DKK3-deficient mice were crossed to ApoE-/- mice to evaluate atherosclerosis development and vessel injury-induced neointimal formation. Endothelial cell migration and the underlying mechanisms were studied using in vitro cell culture models. Results -In the prospective population-based Bruneck Study, the level of plasma DKK3 was inversely related to carotid artery intima-media thickness and five-year progression of carotid atherosclerosis, independently from standard risk factors for atherosclerosis. Experimentally, we analyzed the area of atherosclerotic lesions, femoral artery injury-induced re-endothelialization and neointima formation in both DKK3-/-/ApoE-/- and DKK3+/+/ApoE-/- mice. It was demonstrated that DKK3 deficiency accelerated atherosclerosis and delayed re-endothelialization with consequently exacerbated neointima formation. To explore the underlying mechanisms, we performed transwell and scratch migration assays using cultured human endothelial cells, which exhibited a significant induction in cell migration in response to DKK3 stimulation. This DKK3-induced migration was associated with activation of ROR2 and DVL1, activated Rac1 GTPases and upregulated JNK and c-jun phosphorylation in endothelial cells. Knockdown of ROR2 receptor using specific siRNA or transfection of a dominant negative form of Rac1 in endothelial cells markedly inhibited cell migration and downstream JNK and c-jun phosphorylation. Conclusions -This study provides the evidence for a role of DKK3 in the protection against atherosclerosis involving endothelial migration and repair, with great therapeutic potential implications against atherosclerosis.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 28674110
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  • 4
    Keywords: GENE ; GENES ; INDUCTION ; HEAD ; dkk1 ; HEAD INDUCTION
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 12952897
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  • 5
    Keywords: RECEPTOR ; CELLS ; EXPRESSION ; CELL ; Germany ; PATHWAY ; PATHWAYS ; GENE ; COMPONENTS ; LIGAND ; MARKER ; SIGNAL ; COMPONENT ; MARKERS ; EMBRYO ; BETA ; XENOPUS ; HEAD INDUCTION ; HeLa cells ; OVEREXPRESSION ; EMBRYOS ; XENOPUS EMBRYOS ; HELA-CELLS ; MESODERM ; TGF-BETA ; ACTIVATOR ; AXIS FORMATION ; BMP ; DORSAL NEURAL-TUBE ; ORGANIZER
    Abstract: We have carried out a small pool expression screen for modulators of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway and identified Xenopus R-spondin2 (Rspo2) as a secreted activator of this cascade. Rspo2 is coexpressed with and positively regulated by Wnt signals and synergizes with Writs to activate beta-catenin. Analyses of functional interaction with components of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway suggest that Rspo2 functions extracellularly at the level of receptor ligand interaction. In addition to activating the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway, Rspo2 overexpression blocks Activin, Nodal, and BMP4 signaling in Xenopus, raising the possibility that it may negatively regulate the TGF-beta pathway. Antisense Morpholino experiments in Xenopus embryos and RNAi experiments in HeLa cells reveal that Rspo2 is required for Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. In Xenopus embryos depleted of Rspo2, the muscle markers myoD and myf5 fail to be activated and later muscle development is impaired. Thus, Rspo2 functions in a positive feedback loop to stimulate the Wnt/beta-catenin cascade
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 15469841
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