SMAD1 deficiency in either endothelial or smooth muscle cells can predispose mice to pulmonary hypertension

Hypertension. 2013 May;61(5):1044-52. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.199158. Epub 2013 Mar 11.


A deficiency in bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2 (BMPR2) signaling is a central contributor in the pathogenesis of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). We have recently shown that endothelial-specific Bmpr2 deletion by a novel L1Cre line resulted in pulmonary hypertension. SMAD1 is one of the canonical signal transducers of the BMPR2 pathway, and its reduced activity has been shown to be associated with PAH. To determine whether SMAD1 is an important downstream mediator of BMPR2 signaling in the pathogenesis of PAH, we analyzed pulmonary hypertension phenotypes in Smad1-conditional knockout mice by deleting the Smad1 gene either in endothelial cells or in smooth muscle cells using L1Cre or Tagln-Cre mouse lines, respectively. A significant number of the L1Cre(+);Smad1 (14/35) and Tagln-Cre(+);Smad1 (4/33) mutant mice showed elevated pulmonary pressure, right ventricular hypertrophy, and a thickening of pulmonary arterioles. A pulmonary endothelial cell line in which the Bmpr2 gene deletion can be induced by 4-hydroxy tamoxifen was established. SMAD1 phosphorylation in Bmpr2-deficient cells was markedly reduced by BMP4 but unaffected by BMP7. The sensitivity of SMAD2 phosphorylation by transforming growth factor-β1 was enhanced in the Bmpr2-deficient cells, and the inhibitory effect of transforming growth factor-β1-mediated SMAD2 phosphorylation by BMP4 was impaired in the Bmpr2-deficient cells. Furthermore, transcript levels of several known transforming growth factor-β downstream genes implicated in pulmonary hypertension were elevated in the Bmpr2-deficient cells. Taken together, these data suggest that SMAD1 is a critical mediator of BMPR2 signaling pertinent to PAH, and that an impaired balance between BMP4 and transforming growth factor-β1 may account for the pathogenesis of PAH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4 / metabolism
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptors, Type II / deficiency
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptors, Type II / genetics
  • Causality
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / cytology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Smad1 Protein / deficiency*
  • Smad1 Protein / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / metabolism


  • Bmp4 protein, mouse
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Smad1 Protein
  • Smad1 protein, mouse
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Bmpr2 protein, mouse
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptors, Type II