Increased oxidative stress is a major contributor to the development and progression of heart failure, however, our knowledge on the role of the distinct NADPH oxidase (NOX) isoenzymes, especially on NOX4 is controversial. Therefore, we aimed to characterize NOX4 expression in human samples from healthy and failing hearts. Explanted human heart samples (left and right ventricular, and septal regions) were obtained from patients suffering from heart failure of ischemic or dilated origin. Control samples were obtained from donor hearts that were not used for transplantation. Deep RNA sequencing of the cardiac transcriptome indicated extensive alternative splicing of the NOX4 gene in heart failure as compared to samples from healthy donor hearts. Long distance PCR analysis with a universal 5'-3' end primer pair, allowing amplification of different splice variants, confirmed the presence of the splice variants. To assess translation of the alternatively spliced transcripts we determined protein expression of NOX4 by using a specific antibody recognizing a conserved region in all variants. Western blot analysis showed up-regulation of the full-length NOX4 in ischemic cardiomyopathy samples and confirmed presence of shorter isoforms both in control and failing samples with disease-associated expression pattern. We describe here for the first time that NOX4 undergoes extensive alternative splicing in human hearts which gives rise to the expression of different enzyme isoforms. The full length NOX4 is significantly upregulated in ischemic cardiomyopathy suggesting a role for NOX4 in ROS production during heart failure.
Keywords: aging; cardiac dysfunction; cardiomyopathy; myocardium; oxidative stress.