Atherosclerosis-susceptible and atherosclerosis-resistant pigeon aortic cells express different genes in vivo

J. L. Anderson, University of New Hampshire
C. M. Ashwell, University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
S C. Smith, University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
R. Shine, University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
E C. Smith, University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
Robert L. Taylor Jr., University of New Hampshire


Spontaneous atherosclerosis in the White Carneau (WC-As) pigeon is inherited as a single gene disorder, and its progression closely mirrors the human disease. Representational difference analysis and microarray were used to identify genes that were differentially expressed between the susceptible WC-As and resistant Show Racer (SR-Ar) aortic tissue. The RNA extracted from 1-d-old squab aortas was used to make cDNA for each experiment. Fifty-six unique genes were found using representational difference analysis, with 25 exclusively expressed in the WC-As, 15 exclusive to the SR-Ar, and 16 nonexclusive genes having copy number variation between breeds. Caveolin and β-actin were expressed in the WC-As, whereas the proteasome maturation protein and the transcription complex CCR4-NOT were exclusive to the SR-Ar. Microarray analysis revealed 48 genes with differential expression. Vascular endothelial growth factor and p53 binding protein were among the 17 genes upregulated in the WC-As. Thirty-one genes were upregulated in the SR-Ar including the transforming growth factor-β signaling factor SMAD2 and heat shock protein 90. Genes representing several biochemical pathways were distinctly different between breeds. The most striking divergences were in cytoskeletal remodeling, proteasome activity, cellular respiration, and immune response. Actin cytoskeletal remodeling appears to be one of the first differences between susceptible and resistant breeds, lending support to the smooth muscle cell phenotypic reversion hypothesis of human atherogenesis.