Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Biomedical Sciences

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Krishna Singh

Committee Members

William Joyner, Robert Wondergem, Chuanfu Li, David S. Chi, Mahipal Singh


Activation of sympathetic nervous system is a key component of myocardial remodeling that generally occurs following ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury and myocardial infarction. It induces cardiac myocyte apoptosis and myocardial fibrosis, leading to myocardial dysfunction. Intracellular ubiquitin (UB) regulates protein turnover by the UB-proteosome pathway. The biological functions of extracellular UB in the heart remain largely unexplored. Previously, our lab has shown that β-adrenergic receptor (β-AR) stimulation increases extracellular UB levels, and extracellular UB inhibits β-AR-stimulated apoptosis in adult rat ventricular myocytes (ARVMs). This study explores the role of extracellular UB in myocyte apoptosis, fibroblast phenotype and function, and myocardial remodeling following β-AR stimulation and I/R injury. First, left ventricular (LV) structural and functional remodeling was studied 7 days after chronic β-AR-stimulation in the presence or absence of UB infusion. Echocardiographic analyses showed UB infusion decreases β-AR-stimulated increases in percent fractional shortening and ejection fraction. It decreased cardiac myocyte apoptosis and myocardial fibrosis. UB activated Akt, and inhibition of Akt inhibited β-AR-stimulated increases in matrix metalloproteinase-2 expression. Second, using cardiac fibroblasts, we provide evidence that extracellular UB interacts with the cell surface and co-immunoprecipitates with CXCR4. UB treatment increased expression of α-smooth muscle actin (myofibroblast marker), and induced rearrangement of actin into stress fibers. It inhibited lamellopodia and filopodia formation, and cell migration into the wound. Third, using isolated mouse heart and I/R injury as a model, we provide evidence that UB treatment decreases I/R-mediated increases in infarct size. UB treatment improved functional recovery of the heart as measured by increased % LV developed pressure. Activation of proapoptotic proteins, p-STAT-1 and caspase-9, was significantly lower in UB I/R hearts versus I/R alone. In ARVMs, UB treatment decreased simulated I/R-induced apoptosis. It activated Akt (anti-apoptotic kinase) and inhibited activation of GSK-3β (pro-apoptotic kinase). It decreased I/R-induced oxidative stress and protected anoxia-induced mitochondrial polarization. In fibroblast and ARVMs, CXCR4 antagonism negated the effects of UB, while mutated UBs (unable to interact with CXCR4) had no effect. Thus, extracellular UB, most likely acting via CXCR4, modulates myocardial remodeling with effects on heart function, fibroblast phenotype and function and myocyte apoptosis.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.