Author(s): Qian J, Ren X, Wang X, Zhang P, Jones WK,
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Abstract RATIONALE: The levels of a small heat shock protein (Hsp)20 and its phosphorylation are increased on ischemic insults, and overexpression of Hsp20 protects the heart against ischemia/reperfusion injury. However, the mechanism underlying cardioprotection of Hsp20 and especially the role of its phosphorylation in regulating ischemia/reperfusion-induced autophagy, apoptosis, and necrosis remain to be clarified. OBJECTIVE: Herein, we generated a cardiac-specific overexpression model, carrying nonphosphorylatable Hsp20, where serine 16 was substituted with alanine (Hsp20(S16A)). By subjecting this model to ischemia/reperfusion, we addressed whether: (1) the cardioprotective effects of Hsp20 are associated with serine 16 phosphorylation; (2) blockade of Hsp20 phosphorylation influences the balance between autophagy and cell death; and (3) the aggregation pattern of Hsp20 is altered by its phosphorylation. METHODS AND RESULTS: Our results demonstrated that Hsp20(S16A) hearts were more sensitive to ischemia/reperfusion injury, evidenced by lower recovery of contractile function and increased necrosis and apoptosis, compared with non-TG hearts. Interestingly, autophagy was activated in non-TG hearts but significantly inhibited in Hsp20(S16A) hearts following ischemia/reperfusion. Accordingly, pretreatment of Hsp20(S16A) hearts with rapamycin, an activator of autophagy, resulted in improvement of functional recovery, compared with saline-treated Hsp20(S16A) hearts. Furthermore, on ischemia/reperfusion, the oligomerization pattern of Hsp20 appeared to shift to higher aggregates in Hsp20(S16A) hearts. CONCLUSIONS: Collectively, these data indicate that blockade of Ser16-Hsp20 phosphorylation attenuates the cardioprotective effects of Hsp20 against ischemia/reperfusion injury, which may be attributable to suppressed autophagy and increased cell death. Therefore, phosphorylation of Hsp20 at serine 16 may represent a potential therapeutic target in ischemic heart disease.
This article was published in Circ Res
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Cardiology