Deletion of BACH1 Attenuates Atherosclerosis by Reducing Endothelial Inflammation

Circ Res. 2022 Apr;130(7):1038-1055. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.121.319540. Epub 2022 Feb 24.


Background: The transcription factor BACH1 (BTB and CNC homology 1) suppressed endothelial cells (ECs) proliferation and migration and impaired angiogenesis in the ischemic hindlimbs of adult mice. However, the role and underlying mechanisms of BACH1 in atherosclerosis remain unclear.

Methods: Mouse models of atherosclerosis in endothelial cell (EC)-specific-Bach1 knockout mice were used to study the role of BACH1 in the regulation of atherogenesis and the underlying mechanisms.

Results: Genetic analyses revealed that coronary artery disease-associated risk variant rs2832227 was associated with BACH1 gene expression in carotid plaques from patients. BACH1 was upregulated in ECs of human and mouse atherosclerotic plaques. Endothelial Bach1 deficiency decreased turbulent blood flow- or western diet-induced atherosclerotic lesions, macrophage content in plaques, expression of endothelial adhesion molecules (ICAM1 [intercellular cell adhesion molecule-1] and VCAM1 [vascular cell adhesion molecule-1]), and reduced plasma TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor-α) and IL-1β levels in atherosclerotic mice. BACH1 deletion or knockdown inhibited monocyte-endothelial adhesion and reduced oscillatory shear stress or TNF-α-mediated induction of endothelial adhesion molecules and/or proinflammatory cytokines in mouse ECs, human umbilical vein ECs, and human aortic ECs. Mechanistic studies showed that upon oscillatory shear stress or TNF-α stimulation, BACH1 and YAP (yes-associated protein) were induced and translocated into the nucleus in ECs. BACH1 upregulated YAP expression by binding to the YAP promoter. BACH1 formed a complex with YAP inducing the transcription of adhesion molecules. YAP overexpression in ECs counteracted the antiatherosclerotic effect mediated by Bach1-deletion in mice. Rosuvastatin inhibited BACH1 expression by upregulating microRNA let-7a in ECs, and decreased Bach1 expression in the vascular endothelium of hyperlipidemic mice. BACH1 was colocalized with YAP, and the expression of BACH1 was positively correlated with YAP and proinflammatory genes, as well as adhesion molecules in human atherosclerotic plaques.

Conclusions: These data identify BACH1 as a mechanosensor of hemodynamic stress and reveal that the BACH1-YAP transcriptional network is essential to vascular inflammation and atherogenesis. BACH1 shows potential as a novel therapeutic target in atherosclerosis.

Keywords: BACH1; YAP; atherosclerosis; endothelial inflammation; hemodynamics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis* / genetics
  • Atherosclerosis* / metabolism
  • Atherosclerosis* / prevention & control
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / pharmacology
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic* / pathology
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • BACH1 protein, human
  • Bach1 protein, mouse
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors