Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Heinrich Taegtmeyer, MD, PhD

Committee Member

Andreas Bergmann, PhD

Committee Member

L. Maximilian Buja, MD

Committee Member

Mark Entman, MD

Committee Member

Dianna Milewicz, MD, PhD

Committee Member

Melvin Klegerman, PhD


The heart is a remarkable organ. In order to maintain its function, it remodels in response to a variety of environmental stresses, including pressure overload, volume overload, mechanical or pharmacological unloading and hormonal or metabolic disturbances. All these responses are linked to the inherent capacity of the heart to rebuild itself. Particularly, cardiac pressure overload activates signaling pathways of both protein synthesis and degradation. While much is known about regulators of protein synthesis, little is known about regulators of protein degradation in hypertrophy. The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) selectively degrades unused and abnormal intracellular proteins. I speculated that the UPS may play an important role in both qualitative and quantitative changes in the composition of heart muscle during hypertrophic remodeling. My study hypothesized that cardiac remodeling in response to hypertrophic stimuli is a dynamic process that requires activation of highly regulated mechanisms of protein degradation as much as it requires protein synthesis. My first aim was to adopt a model of left ventricular hypertrophy and determine its gene expression and structural changes. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were submitted to ascending aortic banding and sacrificed at 7 and 14 days after surgery. Sham operated animals served as controls. Effective aortic banding was confirmed by hemodynamic assessment by Doppler flow measurements in vivo. Banded rats showed a four-fold increase in peak stenotic jet velocities. Histomorphometric analysis revealed a significant increase in myocyte size as well as fibrosis in the banded animals. Transcript analysis showed that banded animals had reverted to the fetal gene program. My second aim was to assess if the UPS is increased and transcriptionally regulated in hypertrophic left ventricular remodeling. Protein extracts from the left ventricles of the banded and control animals were used to perform an in vitro peptidase assay to assess the overall catalytic activity of the UPS. The results showed no difference between hypertrophied and control animals. Transcript analysis revealed decreases in transcript levels of candidate UPS genes in the hypertrophied hearts at 7 days post-banding but not at 14 days. However, protein expression analysis showed no difference at either time point compared to controls. These findings indicate that elements of the UPS are downregulated in the early phase of hypertrophic remodeling and normalizes in a later phase. The results provide evidence in support of a dynamic transcriptional regulation of a major pathway of intracellular protein degradation in the heart. The discrepancy between transcript levels on the one hand and protein levels on the other hand supports post-transcriptional regulation of the UPS pathway in the hypertrophied heart. The exact mechanisms and the functional consequences remain to be elucidated.


cardiac hypertrophy, protein degradation, ubiquitin-proteasome system, aortic banding



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