c-Kit modifies the inflammatory status of smooth muscle cells

Lei Song, Laisel Martinez, Zachary M. Zigmond, Diana R. Hernandez, Roberta M. Lassance-Soares, Guillermo Selman, Roberto I. Vazquez-Padron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background. c-Kit is a receptor tyrosine kinase present in multiple cell types, including vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC). However, little is known about how c-Kit influences SMC biology and vascular pathogenesis. Methods. High-throughput microarray assays and in silico pathway analysis were used to identify differentially expressed genes between primary c-Kit deficient (KitW/W-v) and control (Kit+/+) SMC. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR and functional assays further confirmed the differences in gene expression and pro-inflammatory pathway regulation between both SMC populations. Results. The microarray analysis revealed elevated NF-κB gene expression secondary to the loss of c-Kit that affects both the canonical and alternative NF-κB pathways. Upon stimulation with an oxidized phospholipid as pro-inflammatory agent, c-Kit deficient SMC displayed enhanced NF-κB transcriptional activity, higher phosphorylated/total p65 ratio, and increased protein expression of NF-κB regulated pro-inflammatory mediators with respect to cells from control mice. The pro-inflammatory phenotype of mutant cells was ameliorated after restoring c-Kit activity using lentiviral transduction. Functional assays further demonstrated that c-Kit suppresses NF-κB activity in SMC in a TGFβ-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) and Nemo-like kinase (NLK) dependent manner. Discussion. Our study suggests a novel mechanism by which c-Kit suppresses NF-κB regulated pathways in SMC to prevent their pro-inflammatory transformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3418
Pages (from-to)e3418
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2017


  • C-Kit
  • Inflammation
  • NF-κB
  • NLK
  • Smooth muscle cell
  • TAK1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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