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Cell Biology and Anatomy


There is confusion about the role that IFN-α plays in the pathogenesis of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) with different investigators reporting a causative or a protective role. There is now clear evidence in PAH pathogenesis for the involvement of BMP4 and BMP9 signaling, and its disruption by mutations in BMPR2. In the present study, we investigated MxA, an IFN-α-inducible cytoplasmic dynamin-family GTPase for effects on BMP4/9 signaling, including in the presence of PAH-disease-associated mutants of BMPR2. In human pulmonary arterial endothelial cells (HPAECs), IFN-α-induced endogenous as well as exogenously expressed MxA was associated with endosomes that aligned alongside microtubules and tubules of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Moreover, IFN-α and MxA stimulated basal and BMP4/9 signaling to a Smad1/5/8-responsive pBRE-Luc reporter. In HEK293T cells, immunoelectron microscopy confirmed the association of MxA with endosomes, and immunofluorescence methods showed these to be positive for early endosome markers (early endosomal antigen 1, clathrin light chain and Rab5) and RSmad1/5/8. Functionally, using different genetic and inhibitor approaches, we observed that clathrin-mediated endocytosis enhanced and caveolin-mediated endocytosis inhibited the transcriptional response to BMP4 and BMP9. MxA produced a further 3-4-fold enhancement of the BMP-induced response in a clathrin-endocytosis dependent manner. The microtubule inhibitor nocodazole and stabilizer paclitaxel respectively attenuated and enhanced the effect of MxA, implicating microtubule integrity in this process. MxA enhanced BMP-induced signaling in the presence of wild-type BMPR2, and partially rescued signaling from some PAH-disease-associated BMPR2 mutants. Taken together, the data identify MxA as a novel stimulator of BMP4 and BMP9 transcriptional signaling, and suggest it to be a candidate IFN-α-inducible mechanism that might have a protective role against development of PAH and other vascular diseases.

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Originally published in PLoS ONE. Licensed under CC-BY 4.0. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0166382

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