Hyperglycemia and the O-GlcNAc transferase in rat aortic smooth muscle cells: Elevated expression and altered patterns of O-GlcNAcylation

Yoshihiro Akimoto, Lisa K. Kreppel, Hiroshi Hirano, Gerald Warren Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Hyperglycemia leads to vascular disease specific to diabetes mellitus. This pathology, which results from abnormal proliferation of smooth muscle cells in arterial walls, may lead to cataract, renal failure, and atherosclerosis. The hexosamine biosynthetic pathway is exquisitely responsive to glucose concentration and plays an important role in glucose-induced insulin resistance. UDP-GlcNAc: polypeptide O-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase (O-GlcNAc transferase; OGTase) catalyzes the O-linked attachment of single GlcNAc moieties to serine and threonine residues on many cytosolic or nuclear proteins. Polyclonal antibody against OGTase was used to examine the expression of OGTase in rat aorta and aortic smooth muscle (RASM) cells. OGTase enzymatic activity and expression at the mRNA and protein levels were determined in RASM cells cultured at normal (5 mM) and at high (20 mM) glucose concentrations. OGTase mRNA and protein are expressed in both endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells in the aorta of normal rats. In both cell types, the nucleus is intensely stained, while the cytoplasm stains diffusely. Immunoelectron microscopy shows that OGTase is localized to euchromatin and around the myofilaments of smooth muscle cells. In RASM cells grown in 5 mM glucose, OGTase is also located mainly in the nucleus. Hyperglycemic RASM cells also display a relative increase in OGTase's p78 subunit and an overall increase protein and activity for OGTase. Biochemical analyses show that hyperglycemia qualitatively and quantitatively alters the glycosylation or expression of many O-GlcNAc-modified proteins in the nucleus. These results suggest that the abnormal O-GlcNAc modification of intracellular proteins may be involved in glucose toxicity to vascular tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-175
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 15 2001


  • Aortic smooth muscle cells
  • Diabetes
  • Glucosamine
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • O-GlcNAc transferase
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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