GADD153 (growth arrest- and DNA damage-inducible gene 153) is expressed at very low levels in growing cells, but is markedly induced in response to a variety of cellular stresses, including glucose deprivation, exposure to genotoxic agents and other growth-arresting situations. Forced expression of GADD153 induces cell cycle arrest in many types of cells. It is also reported that GADD153 is directly associated with apoptosis. Recently we have reported that platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB induces apoptosis in cultured vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), but only when 100% confluency is reached. These results suggested that cell–cell contact inhibition (cell growth arrest) may be a critical factor for induction of VSMC apoptosis by PDGF-BB. In the present study, we explored the role of GADD153, one of a number of growth-arrest-related gene products, in the molecular mechanisms of VSMC apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. GADD153 was markedly induced at both the mRNA and protein levels, in parallel with the induction of VSMC apoptosis, after treatment with PDGF-BB. Moreover, overexpression of GADD153 in VSMC significantly reduced cell viability and induced apoptosis. In the carotid artery balloon injury model in rats, GADD153 protein was expressed in apoptotic VSMC which were positively stained by in situ DNA labelling. These results demonstrate an important role for GADD153 in the molecular mechanisms of VSMC apoptosis.

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