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J. Biol. Chem. 282 (8): 5704-5714

© 2007 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

Glycosylation Mediates Up-regulation of a Potent Antiangiogenic and Proatherogenic Protein, Thrombospondin-1, by Glucose in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells*

Priya Raman{ddagger}, Irene Krukovets{ddagger}, Tina E. Marinic{ddagger}, Paul Bornstein§, , and Olga I. Stenina{ddagger}1

{ddagger}Department of Molecular Cardiology, Joseph J. Jacobs Center for Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio 44195 and §Departments of Biochemistry and Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195

Abstract: Accelerated development of atherosclerotic lesions remains the most frequent and dangerous complication of diabetes, accounting for 80% of deaths among diabetics. However, our understanding of the pathways mediating glucose-induced gene expression in vascular cells remains controversial and incomplete. We have identified an intracellular metabolic pathway activated by high glucose in human aortic smooth muscle cells that mediates up-regulation of thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1). TSP-1 is a potent antiangiogenic and proatherogenic protein that may represent an important link between diabetes and vascular complications. Using different glucose analogs and metabolites sharing distinct, limited metabolic steps with glucose, we demonstrated that activation of TSP-1 transcription is mediated by the hexosamine pathway of glucose catabolism, possibly resulting in modulation of the activity of nuclear proteins activity through their glycosylation. Specific inhibitors of glutamine: fructose 6-phosphate amidotransferase (GFAT), an enzyme controlling the hexosamine pathway, as well as direct inhibitors of protein glycosylation efficiently inhibited TSP-1 transcription and the activity of a TSP-1 promoter-reporter construct stimulated by high glucose. Overexpression of recombinant GFAT resulted in increased TSP-1 levels. Pharmacological inhibition of GFAT or protein glycosylation inhibited increased proliferation of human aortic smooth muscle cells caused by glucose. We have demonstrated that the hexosamine metabolic pathway mediates up-regulation of TSP-1 by high glucose. Our results suggest that the hexosamine pathway and intracellular glycosylation may control important steps in initiation and development of atherosclerotic lesions.

Received for publication November 28, 2006. Revision received December 18, 2006.

* This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R01 DK067532, K01 DK62128, and P50 HL077107, American Heart Association Grant 0565284B, and funds from the Lerner Research Institute (Cleveland Clinic) (to O. I. S.) and by National Institutes of Health Grant R01 45418 (to P. B.). The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked "advertisement" in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

1 To whom correspondence should be addressed: Dept. of Molecular Cardiology, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Ave., NB50, Cleveland, OH 44195. Tel.: 216-444-9057; Fax: 216-445-8204; E-mail: stenino{at}

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