Smooth muscle cell-specific FoxM1 controls hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension

Jingbo Dai, Qiyuan Zhou, Haiyang Tang, Tianji Chen, Jing Li, Pradip Raychaudhuri, Jason X.J. Yuan, Guofei Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Rationale: Forkhead box M1 (FoxM1) is a transcription factor that promotes cell proliferation by regulating a broad spectrum of genes that participate in cell cycle regulation, such as Cyclin B, CDC25B, and Aurora B Kinase. We have shown that hypoxia, a well-known stimulus for pulmonary hypertension (PH), induces FoxM1 in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC) in a HIF-dependent pathway, resulting in PASMC proliferation, while the suppression of FoxM1 prevents hypoxia-induced PASMC proliferation. However, the implications of FoxM1 in the development of PH remain less known. Methods: We determined FoxM1 levels in the lung samples of idiopathic PAH (pulmonary arterial hypertension) (IPAH) patients and hypoxia-induced PH mice. We generated constitutive and inducible smooth muscle cell (SMC)-specific FoxM1 knockdown or knockout mice as well as FoxM1 transgenic mice which overexpress FoxM1, and exposed them to hypoxia (10% O2, 90% N2) or normoxia (Room air, 21% oxygen) for four weeks, and measured PH indices. We also isolated mouse PASMC (mPASMC) and mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) from these mice to examine the cell proliferation and expression levels of SMC contractile proteins. Results: We showed that in hypertensive human lungs or mouse lungs, FoxM1 levels were elevated. Constitutive knockout of FoxM1 in mouse SMC caused early lethality, whereas constitutive knockdown of FoxM1 in mouse SMC prevented hypoxia-induced PH and PASMC proliferation. Inducible knockout of FoxM1 in SMC reversed hypoxia-induced pulmonary artery wall remodeling in existing PH. Overexpression of FoxM1 enhanced hypoxia-induced pulmonary artery wall remodeling and right ventricular hypertrophy in mice. Alteration of FoxM1 status did not affect hypoxia-induced hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) activity in mice. Knockout of FoxM1 decreased PASMC proliferation and induced expression of SMC contractile proteins and TGF-β/Smad3 signaling. Conclusions: Our studies provide clear evidence that altered FoxM1 expression in PASMC contributes to PH and uncover a correlation between Smad3-dependent signaling in FoxM1-mediated proliferation and de-differentiation of PASMC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalCellular Signalling
StatePublished - Nov 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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