Washington University in St. Louis

New Publication for Carmen Halabi and the Mecham Lab

Congratulations to Carmen in the Mecham Lab on her publication in Science Advances!

Carmen M. Halabi, Thomas J. Broekelmann, Michelle Lin, Vivian S. Lee, Mon-Li Chu, and Robert P. Mecham.  Fibulin-4 is essential for maintaining arterial wall integrity in conduit but not muscular arteries. Science Advances, Published online 2017 May 3.  doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1602532

Abstract:  Homozygous or compound heterozygous mutations in fibulin-4 (FBLN4) lead to autosomal recessive cutis laxa type 1B (ARCL1B), a multisystem disorder characterized by significant cardiovascular abnormalities, including abnormal elastin assembly, arterial tortuosity, and aortic aneurysms. We sought to determine the consequences of a human disease–causing mutation in FBLN4 (E57K) on the cardiovascular system and vascular elastic fibers in a mouse model of ARCL1B. Fbln4E57K/E57K mice were hypertensive and developed arterial elongation, tortuosity, and ascending aortic aneurysms. Smooth muscle cell organization within the arterial wall of large conducting vessels was abnormal, and elastic fibers were fragmented and had a moth-eaten appearance. In contrast, vessel wall structure and elastic fiber integrity were normal in resistance/muscular arteries (renal, mesenteric, and saphenous). Elastin cross-linking and total elastin content were unchanged in large or small arteries, whereas elastic fiber architecture was abnormal in large vessels. While the E57K mutation did not affect Fbln4 mRNA levels, FBLN4 protein was lower in the ascending aorta of mutant animals compared to wild-type arteries but equivalent in mesenteric arteries. We found a differential role of FBLN4 in elastic fiber assembly, where it functions mainly in large conduit arteries. These results suggest that elastin assembly has different requirements depending on vessel type. Normal levels of elastin cross-links in mutant tissue call into question FBLN4’s suggested role in mediating lysyl oxidase–elastin interactions. Future studies investigating tissue-specific elastic fiber assembly may lead to novel therapeutic interventions for ARCL1B and other disorders of elastic fiber assembly.

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