Angiogenic Factor AGGF1 Activates Autophagy with an Essential Role in Therapeutic Angiogenesis for Heart Disease

Lu Q, etc
PLoS ONE, 2016

AGGF1 is an angiogenic factor with therapeutic potential to treat coronary artery disease (CAD) and myocardial infarction (MI). However, the underlying mechanism for AGGF1-mediated therapeutic angiogenesis is unknown. Here, we show for the first time that AGGF1 activates autophagy, a housekeeping catabolic cellular process, in endothelial cells (ECs), HL1, H9C2, and vascular smooth muscle cells. Studies with Atg5 small interfering RNA (siRNA) and the autophagy inhibitors bafilomycin A1 (Baf) and chloroquine demonstrate that autophagy is required for AGGF1-mediated EC proliferation, migration, capillary tube formation, and aortic ring-based angiogenesis. Aggf1+/- knockout (KO) mice show reduced autophagy, which was associated with inhibition of angiogenesis, larger infarct areas, and contractile dysfunction after MI. Protein therapy with AGGF1 leads to robust recovery of myocardial function and contraction with increased survival, increased ejection fraction, reduction of infarct areas, and inhibition of cardiac apoptosis and fibrosis by promoting therapeutic angiogenesis in mice with MI. Inhibition of autophagy in mice by bafilomycin A1 or in Becn1+/- and Atg5 KO mice eliminates AGGF1-mediated angiogenesis and therapeutic actions, indicating that autophagy acts upstream of and is essential for angiogenesis. Mechanistically, AGGF1 initiates autophagy by activating JNK, which leads to activation of Vps34 lipid kinase and the assembly of Becn1-Vps34-Atg14 complex involved in the initiation of autophagy. Our data demonstrate that (1) autophagy is essential for effective therapeutic angiogenesis to treat CAD and MI; (2) AGGF1 is critical to induction of autophagy; and (3) AGGF1 is a novel agent for treatment of CAD and MI. Our data suggest that maintaining or increasing autophagy is a highly innovative strategy to robustly boost the efficacy of therapeutic angiogenesis.

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doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002529
Cleveland Clinic