Increased PHLPP1 expression through ERK-4E-BP1 signaling axis drives nicotine induced oxidative stress related damage of cardiomyocytes

J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2024 Jun 6:193:100-112. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2024.05.014. Online ahead of print.


Nicotine, a key constituent of tobacco/electronic cigarettes causes cardiovascular injury and mortality. Nicotine is known to induce oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in cardiomyocytes leading to cell death. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Pleckstrin homology domain leucine-rich repeat protein phosphatase (PHLPP) is a member of metal-dependent protein phosphatase (PPM) family and is known to dephosphorylate several AGC family kinases and thereby regulate a diverse set of cellular functions including cell growth, survival, and death. Our lab has previously demonstrated that PHLPP1 removal reduced cardiomyocyte death and cardiac dysfunction following injury. Here, we present a novel finding that nicotine exposure significantly increased PHLPP1 protein expression in the adolescent rodent heart. Building upon our in vivo finding, we determined the mechanism of PHLPP1 expression in cardiomyocytes. Nicotine significantly increased PHLPP1 protein expression without altering PHLPP2 in cardiomyocytes. In cardiomyocytes, nicotine significantly increased NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX4), which coincided with increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) and increased cardiomyocyte apoptosis which were dependent on PHLPP1 expression. PHLPP1 expression was both necessary and sufficient for nicotine induced mitochondrial dysfunction. Mechanistically, nicotine activated extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases (ERK1/2) and subsequent eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) to increase PHLPP1 protein expression. Inhibition of protein synthesis with cycloheximide (CHX) and 4EGI-1 abolished nicotine induced PHLPP1 protein expression. Moreover, inhibition of ERK1/2 activity by U0126 significantly blocked nicotine induced PHLPP1 expression. Overall, this study reveals a novel mechanism by which nicotine regulates PHLPP1 expression through ERK-4E-BP1 signaling axis to drive cardiomyocyte injury.

Keywords: Mitochondria; Myocytes; Nicotine; Oxidative stress; PHLPP1; Reactive oxygen species.