A crucial role for p90RSK-mediated reduction of ERK5 transcriptional activity in endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis

Nhat Tu Le, Kyung Sun Heo, Yuichiro Takei, Hakjoo Lee, Chang Hoon Woo, Eugene Chang, Carolyn McClain, Cheryl Hurley, Xin Wang, Faqian Li, Haodong Xu, Craig Morrell, Mark A. Sullivan, Michael S. Cohen, Iana M. Serafimova, Jack Taunton, Keigi Fujiwara, Jun Ichi Abe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Background: Diabetes mellitus is a major risk factor for cardiovascular mortality by increasing endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction and subsequently accelerating atherosclerosis. Extracellular-signal regulated kinase 5 (ERK5) is activated by steady laminar flow and regulates EC function by increasing endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression and inhibiting EC inflammation. However, the role and regulatory mechanisms of ERK5 in EC dysfunction and atherosclerosis are poorly understood. Here, we report the critical role of the p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (p90RSK)/ERK5 complex in EC dysfunction in diabetes mellitus and atherosclerosis. Methods and Results: Inducible EC-specific ERK5 knockout (ERK5-EKO) mice showed increased leukocyte rolling and impaired vessel reactivity. To examine the role of endothelial ERK5 in atherosclerosis, we used inducible ERK5-EKO-LDLR-/-mice and observed increased plaque formation. When activated, p90RSK associated with ERK5, and this association inhibited ERK5 transcriptional activity and upregulated vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 expression. In addition, p90RSK directly phosphorylated ERK5 S496 and reduced endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression. p90RSK activity was increased in diabetic mouse vessels, and fluoromethyl ketone-methoxyethylamine, a specific p90RSK inhibitor, ameliorated EC-leukocyte recruitment and diminished vascular reactivity in diabetic mice. Interestingly, in ERK5-EKO mice, increased leukocyte rolling and impaired vessel reactivity were resistant to the beneficial effects of fluoromethyl ketone-methoxyethylamine, suggesting a critical role for endothelial ERK5 in mediating the salutary effects of fluoromethyl ketone-methoxyethylamine on endothelial dysfunction. Fluoromethyl ketone-methoxyethylamine also inhibited atherosclerosis formation in ApoE -/- mice. Conclusions: Our study highlights the importance of the p90RSK/ERK5 module as a critical mediator of EC dysfunction in diabetes mellitus and atherosclerosis formation, thus revealing a potential new target for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-499
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 29 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • ERK5
  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • P90RSK
  • Signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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