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TRPM2 deficiency in mice protects against atherosclerosis by inhibiting TRPM2–CD36 inflammatory axis in macrophages

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An Author Correction to this article was published on 08 April 2022

A Publisher Correction to this article was published on 05 April 2022

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Abstract

Atherosclerosis is the major cause of ischemic heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of mortality worldwide. The central pathological features of atherosclerosis include macrophage infiltration and foam cell formation. However, the detailed mechanisms regulating these two processes are unclear. Here we show that oxidative stress-activated Ca2+-permeable transient receptor potential melastatin 2 (TRPM2) plays a critical role in atherogenesis. Both global and macrophage-specific Trpm2 deletions protect Apoe/ mice against atherosclerosis. Trpm2 deficiency reduces oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) uptake by macrophages, thereby minimizing macrophage infiltration, foam cell formation and inflammatory responses. Activation of the oxLDL receptor CD36 induces TRPM2 activity and vice versa. In cultured macrophages, TRPM2 is activated by the CD36 ligands oxLDL and thrombospondin-1 (TSP1); deleting Trpm2 or inhibiting TRPM2 activity suppresses the activation of the CD36 signaling cascade induced by oxLDL and TSP1. Our findings establish the TRPM2–CD36 axis as a molecular mechanism underlying atherogenesis and suggest TRPM2 as a potential therapeutic target for atherosclerosis.

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Fig. 1: Global Trpm2 deletion protects mice against atherosclerosis.
Fig. 2: Trpm2 deletion attenuates inflammation in the aortas.
Fig. 3: Trpm2 deletion in macrophages protects mice against atherosclerosis.
Fig. 4: Deletion of Trpm2 inhibits foam cell formation.
Fig. 5: Trpm2 deletion inhibits the activation of CD36 signaling by TSP1.
Fig. 6: TRPM2 mediates the activation of CD36 signaling.
Fig. 7: TRPM2 mediates macrophage activation induced by oxLDL or TSP1.
Fig. 8: Inhibiting TRPM2 activation suppresses foam cell formation.

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All data generated or analyzed are included in the main article and associated files. Source data are provided with this paper.

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Acknowledgements

We thank A. M. Scharenberg (University of Washington) for providing the TRPM2 plasmid. CD36-bio-His was a gift from G. Wright (Addgene plasmid no. 52025; http://n2t.net/addgene:52025; Research Resource Identifier: Addgene_52025)58. We thank Q. Lin (University of Connecticut) for preparing the artistic graphic works for our study. This work was partially supported by the National Institutes of Health (no. R01-HL143750) and American Heart Association (no. 19TPA34890022) to L.Y. and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (no. MOP 86655) to J.V.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

L.Y. conceived the research. P.Z. designed and performed the in vitro experiments. Z.Y. and J.F. performed most of the in vivo experiments. A.S.Y. conducted some of the in vitro experiments. J. V., B. M. and Y.M. generated the transgenic mice. E.R.J. and P.Z. conducted the flow cytometry experiments. P.Z. and L.Y. wrote the manuscript with contributions from all authors.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lixia Yue.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Nature Cardiovascular Research thanks Lin-Hua Jiang and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Extended Data Fig. 1 Knockout of Trpm2 in Apoe-/- mice.

(a) Representative PCR genotyping results showing a 514 bp and 740 bp products for WT and M2KO mice. (b) Representative WB analysis of TRPM2 expression in macrophages isolated from Apoe single knockout (WT (n = 3)) and Apoe / Trpm2 double knockout (M2KO (n = 3)) mice (c-e) Representative recording (c, I-V curve; d, time-current trace) and quantification of TRPM2 current in macrophages isolated from Apoe single knockout (WT) and Apoe / Trpm2 double knockout (M2KO) mice. ACA is a TRPM2 blocker. (***: p < 0.001; unpaired t test; mean ± SEM) (f) Graphic illustration showing the atherosclerotic area chosen for taking images of F4/80&CD80 staining in Fig. 1i and Fig. 3h. (g) Representative WB analysis of TRPM2 expression in macrophages isolated from Trpm2fl/flCd11b-cre- (n = 3) and Trpm2fl/flCd11b-cre+ mice (n = 3) with Apoe knockout. (h, i) Representative recording and quantification of TRPM2 current in macrophages isolated from Trpm2fl/flCd11b-cre- and Trpm2fl/flCd11b-cre+ mice with Apoe knockout.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 2 Expression of TRPM2 is increased during atherogenesis.

(a, b) Representative WB analysis of TRPM2 expression in aorta from wild-type mice (WT) with or without the treatment of high-fat diet (HFD) for 4 months (n = 6/group). (c, d) Representative WB analysis of TRPM2 expression in macrophages isolated from WT mice with or without the treatment of oxLDL (50 µg/ml) for 24 h (n = 6/group). (***: p < 0.001; unpaired t test, two-tailed; mean ± SEM)

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Extended Data Fig. 3 In vitro macrophage migration and emigration assay.

(a) Graphic illustration of in vitro examination of macrophage infiltration across endothelial cells induced by MCP1. Aorta-derived endothelial cells were plated on the transwell inserts (pore size: 12 µm) for 3-5 days. Bone marrow derived macrophages were added into the upper chamber after endothelial cells completely covered the upper surface of transwells. After 4 h, F4/80 and CD80 staining of macrophages in the lower chamber was performed as in Fig. 2l. (b) Graphic illustration of in vitro examination of macrophage emigration across endothelial cells induced by MCP1. Aorta-derived endothelial cells were plated on the transwell inserts (pore size: 12 µm) for 3-5 days. Bone marrow derived macrophages preloaded with oxLDL for 24 h were added into the upper chamber after endothelial cells completely covered the upper surface of transwells. After 24 h, F4/80 and CD80 staining of macrophages in lower chamber was performed as in Fig. 2n. (c) In vitro macrophage migration assay induced by MIF instead of MCP1 as shown in Extended Data Fig. 3a. l, F4/80 and CD80 staining of macrophages in the lower chamber (Red: F4/80; Blue: DAPI; Green: CD80). (d), Quantification of the number of infiltrated macrophages within a x 10 field. 6 dishes from each group were chosen for quantification. (***: p < 0.001; two-way ANOVA, Bonferroni’s test; mean ± SEM).

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 4 TRPM2 is required for CD36 activation in macrophages induced by oxLDL.

(a) Quantification of Fig. 4a by counting percentage of Oil red O staining macrophages (n = 8/group). (b, c) 30-min oxLDL treatment (50 µg/ml) induce the activation of CD36 signaling without upregulating CD36 expression. Representative WB analysis of CD36, pFyn, pJNK and pp38 expression in macrophages after oxLDL treatment for 30 min (n = 6/group). (d, e) NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocynin does not inhibit CD36 activation induced by 24-h oxLDL treatment (50 µg/ml) in macrophages isolated from wild-type (WT) mice. Representative WB analysis of CD36, pFyn, pJNK and pp38 expression in macrophages after oxLDL treatment for 24 h (n = 6/group). (f) Quantification of Fig. 4k by counting percentage of Oil red O staining macrophages (n = 6/group). (g) Quantification of Fig. 4o by counting percentage of Oil red O staining macrophages (n = 8/group). (h) A set of original Fura-2 real time recording traces without normalization during oxLDL treatment as in Fig. 4o. (i, j) Trpm2 deletion does not influence the production of MCP1/MIF in endothelial cells isolated from aorta in response to 24-h oxLDL treatment (50 µg/ml). Representative WB analysis of MCP1 and MIF expression in endothelial cells after oxLDL treatment for 24 h (n = 6/group). (ns: no statistical significance; *: p < 0.05; **: p < 0.01; ***: p < 0.001; ANOVA, two-way, Bonferroni’s test; mean ± SEM).

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 5 TRPM2 is required for CD36 activation in macrophages induced by TSP1.

(a, b) Representative WB analysis of TRPM2 expression in macrophages isolated from WT mice with or without the treatment of TSP1 (10 µg/ml) for 24 h (n = 6/group). (c, d) 30-min TSP1 (10 µg/ml) treatment induce the activation of CD36 signaling without upregulating CD36 expression. Representative WB analysis of CD36, pFyn, pJNK and pp38 expression in macrophages after TSP1 treatment for 30 min (n = 6/group). (e, f) NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocynin does not inhibit CD36 activation induced by 24-h TSP1 (10 µg/ml) treatment in macrophages isolated from wild-type (WT) mice. Representative WB analysis of CD36, pFyn, pJNK and pp38 expression in macrophages after TSP1 treatment for 24 h. (g) A set of original Fura-2 real time recording traces without normalization during TSP1 treatment as in Fig. 5g. (h, i) Trpm2 deletion does not influence the production of MCP1/MIF in endothelial cells isolated from aorta in response to 24-h TSP1 (10 µg/ml) treatment. Representative WB analysis of MCP1 and MIF expression in endothelial cells after TSP1 treatment for 24 h (n = 6/group). (ns: no statistical significance; *: p < 0.05; **: p < 0.01; ***: p < 0.001; ANOVA, two-way, Bonferroni’s test; mean ± SEM).

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Extended Data Fig. 6 Different inhibitors suppressed the activation of TRPM2 by oxLDL or TSP1 treatment.

(a, b) Representative recording of TRPM2 current in HEK293T cells transfected with CD36 and TRPM2 during oxLDL treatment (50 µg/ml) as in a, and during TSP1 treatment (10 µg/ml) as in b. Transfected cells were treated with different inhibitors as indicated before current recording.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 7 Inhibition of CD36 or TRPM2 did not produce additional inhibitory effect on M2KO macrophages.

(a) Representative WB analysis of the expression of CD36, pFyn, Fyn, pJNK, JNK, pp38 and p38 in isolated macrophages from M2KO mice after oxLDL treatment (50 µg/ml). Macrophages were treated with different inhibitors as indicated before protein extraction. (b) Quantification of WB bands (n = 3/group). (c) Representative WB analysis of the expression of CD36, pFyn, Fyn, pJNK, JNK, pp38 and p38 in isolated macrophages from M2KO mice after TSP1 treatment (10 µg/ml). Macrophages were treated with different inhibitors as indicated before protein extraction. (d) Quantification of WB bands (n = 3/group). (e) Representative WB analysis of the expression of iNOS in isolated macrophages from M2KO mice after oxLDL treatment (50 µg/ml). Macrophages were treated with different inhibitors as indicated before protein extraction. (f) Representative WB analysis of the expression of iNOS in isolated macrophages from M2KO mice after TSP1 treatment (10 µg/ml). Macrophages were treated with different inhibitors as indicated before protein extraction. (g) Quantification of WB bands (n = 3/group). (h) Quantification of WB bands (n = 3/group). (i) Representative WB analysis of the expression of MCP1 and MIF in isolated macrophages from M2KO mice after oxLDL treatment (50 μg/ml). Macrophages were treated with different inhibitors as indicated before protein extraction. (j) Representative WB analysis of the expression of MCP1 and MIF in isolated macrophages from M2KO mice after TSP1 treatment (10 μg/ml). Macrophages were treated with different inhibitors as indicated before protein extraction. (k) Quantification of WB bands (n = 3/group). (l) Quantification of WB bands (n = 3/group). (ns: no statistical significance; ANOVA, two-way, Bonferroni’s test; mean ± SEM).

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 8 Graphic abstract, the activation of CD36 and TRPM2 form a positive feedback loop in atherogenesis.

(a) Global Trpm2 deletion and macrophage-specific Trpm2 deletion protect against atherosclerosis in Apoe-/- mice fed with a high-fat diet (HFD). (b) Trpm2 deficiency in macrophages inhibits atherogenesis by inhibiting macrophage infiltration and minimizing foam cell formation. (c) TRPM2 activation is required for CD36-induced oxLDL uptake and subsequent inflammatory responses in macrophages. (d) The ligands of CD36, oxLDL and TSP1, activate TRPM2, thereby perpetuating TRPM2-CD36 inflammatory cycle in atherogenesis cascade. (e) Our data establish TRPM2-CD36 axis in macrophages as an important atherogenesis mechanism and TRPM2 as a promising therapeutic target for atherosclerosis.

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Flow cytometry gating strategy for Figs. 1 and 3 and all uncropped original scanned gel images in the Extended Data figures.

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Zong, P., Feng, J., Yue, Z. et al. TRPM2 deficiency in mice protects against atherosclerosis by inhibiting TRPM2–CD36 inflammatory axis in macrophages. Nat Cardiovasc Res 1, 344–360 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s44161-022-00027-7

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