Fluid Shear Stress and NO Decrease the Activity of the Hydroxy-Methylglutaryl Coenzyme A Reductase in Endothelial Cells via the AMP-Activated Protein Kinase and FoxO1

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The rate-limiting enzyme for cholesterol synthesis, the hydroxy-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HCR), is phosphorylated by the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). As shear stress activates the AMPK in endothelial cells, we determined whether it affects HCR activity and subsequent HCR-dependent signaling. Shear stress (12 dynes cm−2) rapidly increased the phosphorylation and activity (6.5- and 4-fold, respectively) of the AMPK in cultured endothelial cells and the activated AMPK phosphorylated the HCR in vitro. Moreover, shear stress and the AMPK activator 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleoside (AICAR) attenuated endothelial HCR activity by 37% and 33%, respectively. Inhibition of NO production attenuated the acute shear stress–induced phosphorylation of the AMPK and the decrease in HCR activity. Prolonged shear stress (18 hours) led to a significant (50%) decrease in HCR mRNA expression that was dependent on NO, AMPK, and the subsequent phosphorylation and degradation of FoxO1a. Correspondingly, the downregulation of FoxO (small interfering RNA) decreased HCR expression. Prolonged shear stress also attenuated the bradykinin-induced activation of Ras and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, a phenomenon that was comparable to the effects of cerivastatin and that was reversed by mevalonate and thus attributed to HCR inhibition. A decrease (35%) in HCR expression was also detected in femoral arteries from mice following voluntary exercise, and the bradykinin-induced vasodilatation of the mouse hindlimb was attenuated by both exercise and the HCR inhibitor cerivastatin. These data indicate that fluid shear stress regulates the activity and expression of the HCR in endothelial cells and determines responsiveness to stimuli, such as bradykinin via a mechanism involving NO, AMPK, FoxO1a, and p21Ras.

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