Inhibition of hypoxia-induced apoptosis by modulation of retinoblastoma protein-dependent signaling in cardiomyocytes


  • L. Hauck
  • G. Hansmann
  • R. Dietz
  • R. von Harsdorf


  • Circulation Research


  • Circ Res 91 (9): 782-789


  • Apoptotic cell death is an important mode of cell loss contributing to heart dysfunction. To analyze the importance of the E2F-dependent regulation of gene transcription in cardiomyocyte apoptosis, the function of cell cycle factors impinging on the retinoblastoma protein (pRb)/E2F pathway was investigated. In isolated neonatal ventricular myocytes, apoptotic cell death induced by hypoxia (deferoxamine, 100 μmol/L) specifically activated cyclin-dependent kinases (cdks) 2 and 3. Apoptotic cell death was inhibited by ectopic expression of cdk inhibitors p21CIP and p27KIP1 but not p16INK4. In addition, apoptosis was also abrogated by forced expression of kinase dead mutant proteins of cdk2/3 but not of cdk4/6. Introduction of cdk inhibitors or dominant-negative cdk2/3 blocked pRb hyperphosphorylation and abrogated E2F-dependent gene transcription, including that of the E2F-responsive genes of proapoptotic caspase 3 and caspase 7. Moreover, introduction of constitutively active pRb and transcriptionally inert mutant E2F1/DP1 efficiently protected cardiomyocytes from apoptosis. In conclusion, these data demonstrate that cdk-specific inactivation of pRb and the subsequent activation of E2F-dependent gene transcription are required for cardiomyocyte apoptosis.