Atherosclerosis is readily observed in regions of blood vessels where disturbed blood flow (d-flow) is known to occur. A positive correlation between protein kinase C ζ (PKCζ) activation and d-flow has been reported, but the exact role of d-flow-mediated PKCζ activation in atherosclerosis remains unclear. We tested the hypothesis that PKCζ activation by d-flow induces endothelial cell (EC) apoptosis by regulating p53. We found that d-flow-mediated peroxynitrite (ONOO(-)) increased PKCζ activation, which subsequently induced p53 SUMOylation, p53-Bcl-2 binding, and EC apoptosis. Both d-flow and ONOO(-) increased the association of PKCζ with protein inhibitor of activated STATy (PIASy) via the Siz/PIAS-RING domain (amino acids 301-410) of PIASy, and overexpression of this domain of PIASy disrupted the PKCζ-PIASy interaction and PKCζ-mediated p53 SUMOylation. En face confocal microscopy revealed increases in nonnuclear p53 expression, nitrotyrosine staining, and apoptosis in aortic EC located in d-flow areas in wild-type mice, but these effects were significantly decreased in p53(-/-) mice. We propose a novel mechanism for p53 SUMOylation mediated by the PKCζ-PIASy interaction during d-flow-mediated EC apoptosis, which has potential relevance to early events of atherosclerosis.
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