Molecular medicine reports

Rab5a‑mediated autophagy regulates the phenotype and behavior of vascular smooth muscle cells.

PMID 27666726


Rab5a, a key member of the Rab family of GTPases, was determined to be a regulator of vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation and migration. However, the exact regulatory mechanism remains unclear. As Rab5a has been shown to be associated with autophagy, which is essential for the conversion of VSMCs from a contractile to a synthetic phenotype in order to prevent cell death due to oxidative stress. The present study hypothesized that autophagy may be responsible for the proliferation and migration of VSMCs via the Rab5a protein. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of Rab5a on autophagy in VSMCs. The human aorta vascular smooth muscle cell line, T/G HA‑VSMCs, was treated with small interfering (si)RNA against Rab5a and/or platelet‑derived growth factor (PDGF). Following treatment, the phenotype transition of the VSMCs was evaluated by detecting the mRNA and protien expression levels of VSMC molecular markers using reverse transcription‑quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blotting, respectively. In addition, autophagy in VSMCs was evaluated by western blotting for autophagy‑associated proteins, flow cytometry of acidic vesicular organelles, punctate fluorescence of microtubule associated protein light chainxa03 and transmission electron microscopy of typical scattered double‑membrane vacuolar structures. Additionally, the proliferation, migration, cell cycle and apoptotic response of VSMCs were detected by sulforhodaminexa0B assay, transwell assay and flow cytometry, respectively. The results revealed that transfection with siRNA against Rab5a led to a significant decrease in Rab5a protein expression, while the reduced expression trend of Rab5a was rescued by intervention with PDGF. Furthermore, cells transfected with siRNA against Rab5a inhibited the autophagy of VSMCs. Downregulated Rab5a inhibited the phenotype transition of VSMCs. Additionally, downregulated Rab5a led to slowed cell growth, decreased numbers of migrated cells, decreased numbers of cells at the G0‑G1xa0phase and a higher apoptosis rate. However, PDGF significantly rescued these phenomena caused by siRNA against Rab5a. These results indicated that Rab5a‑mediated autophagy may regulate the phenotype transition and cell behavior of VSMCs through the activation of the extracellular‑regulated kinasexa01/2xa0signaling pathway.