Cardiac hypertrophy is controlled by a highly connected signaling network with many effectors of cardiac myocyte size. Quantification of the contribution of individual pathways to specific changes in shape and transcript abundance is needed to better understand hypertrophy signaling and to improve heart failure therapies. We stimulated cardiac myocytes with 15 hypertrophic agonists and quantitatively characterized differential regulation of 5 shape features using high-throughput microscopy and transcript levels of 12 genes using qPCR. Transcripts measured were associated with phenotypes including fibrosis, cell death, contractility, proliferation, angiogenesis, inflammation, and the fetal cardiac gene program. While hypertrophy pathways are highly connected, the agonist screen revealed distinct hypertrophy phenotypic signatures for the 15 receptor agonists. We then used k-means clustering of inputs and outputs to identify a network map linking input modules to output modules. Five modules were identified within inputs and outputs with many maladaptive outputs grouping together in one module: Bax, C/EBPβ, Serca2a, TNFα, and CTGF. Subsequently, we identified mechanisms underlying two correlations revealed in the agonist screen: correlation between regulators of fibrosis and cell death signaling (CTGF and Bax mRNA) caused by AngII; and myocyte proliferation (CITED4 mRNA) and elongation caused by Nrg1. Follow-up experiments revealed positive regulation of Bax mRNA level by CTGF and an incoherent feedforward loop linking Nrg1, CITED4 and elongation. With this agonist screen, we identified the most influential inputs in the cardiac hypertrophy signaling network for a variety of features related to pathological and protective hypertrophy signaling and shared regulation among cardiac myocyte phenotypes.
Keywords: CITED4; CTGF; Cardiac hypertrophy; Cardiac myocytes; Phenotypic screen; Signal transduction.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.