A hallmark of vascular lesions is the phenotypic modulation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) from a quiescent, contractile state to a more primitive, proliferative phenotype with a more fetal pattern of gene expression. Using subtraction hybridization to identify genes that may regulate this transition, we cloned a novel gene named EVEC, an acronym for its expression in the embryonic vasculature and the presence of Ca2+ binding epidermal growth factor-like repeats contained in the predicted protein structure. Although these repeats are characteristic of the extracellular matrix proteins, fibrillin, fibulin, and the latent transforming growth factor-β binding proteins, EVEC most closely resembles the H411 and T16/S1-5 gene products, the latter of which are believed to regulate DNA synthesis in quiescent fibroblasts. Using in situ hybridization, we demonstrated that EVEC is expressed predominantly in the VSMCs of developing arteries in E11.5 through E16.5 mouse embryos. Lower levels of expression are also observed in endothelial cells, perichondrium, intestine, and mesenchyme of the face and kidney. EVEC mRNA expression is dramatically downregulated in adult arteries, except in the uterus, where cyclic angiogenesis continues; however, EVEC expression is reactivated in 2 independent rodent models of vascular injury. EVEC mRNA is observed in cellular elements of atherosclerotic plaques of LDL receptor-deficient, human apolipoprotein B transgenic mice and in VSMCs of the media and neointima of balloon-injured rat carotid arteries. These data suggest that EVEC may play an important role in the regulation of vascular growth and maturation during development and in lesions of injured vessels.
- Vascular smooth muscle cell
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine