Arterial stiffness induces remodeling phenotypes in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells via YAP/TAZ-mediated repression of cyclooxygenase-2

Paul B. Dieffenbach, Christina Mallarino Haeger, Anna Maria F. Coronata, Kyoung Moo Choi, Xaralabos Varelas, Daniel J. Tschumperlin, Laura E. Fredenburgh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Pulmonary arterial stiffness is an independent risk factor for mortality in pulmonary hypertension (PH) and plays a critical role in PH pathophysiology. Our laboratory has recently demonstrated arterial stiffening early in experimental PH, along with evidence for a mechanobiological feedback loop by which arterial stiffening promotes further cellular remodeling behaviors (Liu F, Haeger CM, Dieffenbach PB, Sicard D, Chrobak I, Coronata AM, Suárez Velandia MM, Vitali S, Colas RA, Norris PC, Marinković A, Liu X, Ma J, Rose CD, Lee SJ, Comhair SA, Erzurum SC, McDonald JD, Serhan CN, Walsh SR, Tschumperlin DJ, Fredenburgh LE. JCI Insight 1: e86987, 2016). Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and prostaglandin signaling have been implicated in stiffness-mediated regulation, with prostaglandin activity inversely correlated to matrix stiffness and remodeling behaviors in vitro, as well as to disease progression in rodent PH models. The mechanism by which mechanical signaling translates to reduced COX-2 activity in pulmonary vascular cells is unknown. The present work investigated the transcriptional regulators Yes-associated protein (YAP) and WW domain-containing transcription regulator 1 (WWTR1, a.k.a., TAZ), which are known drivers of downstream mechanical signaling, in mediating stiffness-induced changes in COX-2 and prostaglandin activity in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs). We found that YAP/TAZ activity is increased in PAH PASMCs and experimental PH and is necessary for the development of stiffnessdependent remodeling phenotypes. Knockdown of YAP and TAZ markedly induces COX-2 expression and downstream prostaglandin production by approximately threefold, whereas overexpression of YAP or TAZ reduces COX-2 expression and prostaglandin production to near undetectable levels. Together, our findings demonstrate a stiffness-dependent YAP/TAZ-mediated positive feedback loop that drives remodeling phenotypes in PASMCs via reduced COX-2 and prostaglandin activity. The ability to interrupt this critical mechanobiological feedback loop and enhance local prostaglandin activity via manipulation of YAP/TAZ signaling presents a highly attractive novel strategy for the treatment of PH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L628-L647
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • COX-2
  • Matrix stiffness
  • Prostaglandins
  • Pulmonary hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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