Single-Cell Transcriptomic Profiling of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Phenotype Modulation in Marfan Syndrome Aortic Aneurysm. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology Pedroza, A. J., Tashima, Y., Shad, R., Cheng, P., Wirka, R., Churovich, S., Nakamura, K., Yokoyama, N., Cui, J. Z., Iosef, C., Hiesinger, W., Quertermous, T., Fischbein, M. P. 2020: ATVBAHA120314670


OBJECTIVE: To delineate temporal and spatial dynamics of vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) transcriptomic changes during aortic aneurysm development in Marfan syndrome (MFS). Approach and Results: We performed single-cell RNA sequencing to study aortic root/ascending aneurysm tissue from Fbn1C1041G/+ (MFS) mice and healthy controls, identifying all aortic cell types. A distinct cluster of transcriptomically modulated SMCs (modSMCs) was identified in adult Fbn1C1041G/+ mouse aortic aneurysm tissue only. Comparison with atherosclerotic aortic data (ApoE-/- mice) revealed similar patterns of SMC modulation but identified an MFS-specific gene signature, including plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (Serpine1) and Kruppel-like factor 4 (Klf4). We identified 481 differentially expressed genes between modSMC and SMC subsets; functional annotation highlighted extracellular matrix modulation, collagen synthesis, adhesion, and proliferation. Pseudotime trajectory analysis of Fbn1C1041G/+ SMC/modSMC transcriptomes identified genes activated differentially throughout the course of phenotype modulation. While modSMCs were not present in young Fbn1C1041G/+ mouse aortas despite small aortic aneurysm, multiple early modSMCs marker genes were enriched, suggesting activation of phenotype modulation. modSMCs were not found in nondilated adult Fbn1C1041G/+ descending thoracic aortas. Single-cell RNA sequencing from human MFS aortic root aneurysm tissue confirmed analogous SMC modulation in clinical disease. Enhanced expression of TGF (transforming growth factor)-beta-responsive genes correlated with SMC modulation in mouse and human data sets.CONCLUSIONS: Dynamic SMC phenotype modulation promotes extracellular matrix substrate modulation and aortic aneurysm progression in MFS. We characterize the disease-specific signature of modSMCs and provide temporal, transcriptomic context to the current understanding of the role TGF-beta plays in MFS aortopathy. Collectively, single-cell RNA sequencing implicates TGF-beta signaling and Klf4 overexpression as potential upstream drivers of SMC modulation.

View details for DOI 10.1161/ATVBAHA.120.314670

View details for PubMedID 32698686