The expression of MURC (muscle-restricted coiled-coil protein), a hypertrophy-regulated gene, increases during pressure overload. Hypoxia can cause myocardial hypertrophy; however, how hypoxia affects the regulation of MURC in cardiomyocytes undergoing hypertrophy is still unknown. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that hypoxia induces MURC expression in cardiomyocytes during hypertrophy. The expression of MURC was evaluated in cultured rat neonatal cardiomyocytes subjected to hypoxia and in an in vivo model of AMI (acute myocardial infarction) to induce myocardial hypoxia in adult rats. MURC protein and mRNA expression were significantly enhanced by hypoxia. MURC proteins induced by hypoxia were significantly blocked after the addition of PD98059 or ERK (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase) siRNA 30 min before hypoxia. Gel-shift assay showed increased DNA-binding activity of SRF (serum response factor) after hypoxia. PD98059, ERK siRNA and an anti-TGF-β (transforming growth factor-β) antibody abolished the SRF-binding activity enhanced by hypoxia or exogenous administration of TGF-β. A luciferase promoter assay demonstrated increased transcriptional activity of SRF in cardiomyocytes by hypoxia. Increased βMHC (β-myosin heavy chain) and BNP (B-type natriuretic peptide) protein expression and increased protein synthesis was identified after hypoxia with the presence of MURC in hypertrophic cardiomyocytes. MURC siRNA inhibited the hypertrophic marker protein expression and protein synthesis induced by hypoxia. AMI in adult rats also demonstrated increased MURC protein expression in the left ventricular myocardium. In conclusion, hypoxia in cultured rat neonatal cardiomyocytes increased MURC expression via the induction of TGF-β, SRF and the ERK pathway. These findings suggest that MURC plays a role in hypoxia-induced hypertrophy in cardiomyocytes.

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