The American journal of pathology

β1 integrin gene excision in the adult murine cardiac myocyte causes defective mechanical and signaling responses.

PMID 22248583


How mechanical signals are transmitted in the cardiac myocyte is poorly understood. In this study, we produced a tamoxifen-inducible mouse model in which β1 integrin could be reduced specifically in the adult cardiomyocyte, so that the function of this integrin could be assessed in the postnatal and mechanically stressed heart. The expression of β1 integrin was reduced to 35% of control levels, but function remained normal at baseline. With aortic constriction, the knockout mice survived but had a blunted hypertrophic response. Integrin knockout myocytes, in contrast to controls, showed reduced integrin-linked kinase expression both at baseline and after hemodynamic stress; focal adhesion kinase expression was reduced after stress. Alterations in multiple signaling pathways were detected in the integrin knockout group after acute and chronic hemodynamic stress. Most remarkably, when we challenged the knockout mice with short-term loading, the robust responses of several kinases (extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, p38, and Akt) evident in control mice were essentially abolished in the knockout mice. We also found that reduction of myocyte β1 integrin expression modified adrenergic-mediated signaling through extracellular signal-regulated kinase, p38, and Akt. Reduction of β1 integrin expression in the mature cardiac myocyte leads to a varied response compared with when this protein is reduced during either the embryonic or perinatal period. These results show that β1 integrin expression is required for proper mechanotransductive and adrenergic responses of the adult heart.