Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Comparative and Experimental Medicine

Major Professor

Mei-Zhen Cui

Committee Members

Xuemin Xu, Robert L Donnell, Karla J Matteson, Hildegard M Schuller


Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is a potent bioactive lipid component of oxidized low density lipoproteins (oxLDL). High concentrations of LPA have been detected in human atherosclerotic plaques. Our data has shown that LPA highly induces smooth muscle cell (SMC) migration. Cyr61, a matricellular protein, which also accumulates in human atherosclerotic plaques, has been implicated in the injury-induced neointimal formation. Smooth muscle cell migration is a key event in the development of atherosclerosis, and it contributes to the progressive growth of atherosclerotic lesions. Data generated by this study demonstrate that LPA markedly induces Cyr61 expression in mouse aortic smooth muscle cells (MASMC). We hypothesized that LPA-induced matricellular Cyr61 mediates LPA-induced MASMC migration. To date, little is known about the relationship between LPA and Cyr61 in smooth muscle cells; the signaling pathway leading to LPA-induced Cyr61 is unknown. Furthermore, whether Cyr61 contributes to LPA-induced cell migration is unrevealed. Our study demonstrates that LPA, by binding to LPA1 receptor, activates the intracellular signaling pathway leading to the activation of PKCdelta which in turn contributes to the increased expression of Cyr61 in MASMCs. Interestingly, we found that after LPA-induced Cyr61 mRNA has been translated into its protein intracellularly, the de novo synthesized proteins promptly accumulate in the Golgi apparatus and then translocalize to the extracellular matrix. Importantly, our data reveal a novel LPA/Cyr61 pathway in controlling MASMC migration. Understanding the mechanism underlying LPA induction of Cyr61 provides new insight into pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.

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