Probing tissue transglutaminase mediated vascular smooth muscle cell aging using a novel transamidation-deficient Tgm2-C277S mouse model

Huilei Wang, James Chen, Sandeep Jandu, Sean Melucci, William Savage, Kavitha Nandakumar, Sara K. Kang, Sebastian Barreto-Ortiz, Alan Poe, Shivam Rastogi, Maria Bauer, Jochen Steppan, Lakshmi Santhanam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tissue transglutaminase (TG2), a multifunctional protein of the transglutaminase family, has putative transamidation-independent functions in aging-associated vascular stiffening and dysfunction. Developing preclinical models will be critical to fully understand the physiologic relevance of TG2’s transamidation-independent activity and to identify the specific function of TG2 for therapeutic targeting. Therefore, in this study, we harnessed CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology to introduce a mutation at cysteine 277 in the active site of the mouse Tgm2 gene. Heterozygous and homozygous Tgm2-C277S mice were phenotypically normal and were born at the expected Mendelian frequency. TG2 protein was ubiquitously expressed in the Tgm2-C277S mice at levels similar to those of wild-type (WT) mice. In the Tgm2-C277S mice, TG2 transglutaminase function was successfully obliterated, but the transamidation-independent functions ascribed to GTP, fibronectin, and integrin binding were preserved. In vitro, a remodeling stimulus led to the significant loss of vascular compliance in WT mice, but not in the Tgm2-C277S or TG2−/− mice. Vascular stiffness increased with age in WT mice, as measured by pulse-wave velocity and tensile testing. Tgm2-C277S mice were protected from age-associated vascular stiffening, and TG2 knockout yielded further protection. Together, these studies show that TG2 contributes significantly to overall vascular modulus and vasoreactivity independent of its transamidation function, but that transamidation activity is a significant cause of vascular matrix stiffening during aging. Finally, the Tgm2-C277S mice can be used for in vivo studies to explore the transamidation-independent roles of TG2 in physiology and pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number197
JournalCell Death Discovery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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