Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health

First Advisor's Name

Quentin Felty

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Deodutta Roy

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Co-committee chair

Third Advisor's Name

Alok Deoraj

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Changwon Yoo

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Juan P. Liuzzi

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Pulmonary artery hypertension, PCB153, ID3, plexiform lesions, Lung endothelial cells

Date of Defense



Uncontrolled growth of vascular stem cells as a result of endothelial-mesenchymal transition is considered to cause hyper-proliferative vascular remodeling in severe pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) patients. Hyperplastic intimal growth is one of the causes of closure of the lumen of pulmonary arterioles. This abnormal vessel remodeling leads to the progressive increase in pressure of the pulmonary arterioles causing severe PAH; and debilitating harm to patients resulting in mortality from right heart failure. Environmental factors, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), are considered to be involved in hyper-proliferative vascular remodeling because genetic makeup can only explain about 10% of severe PAH cases. PCB involvement in lung toxicity has received attention because (i) they have been reported to accumulate in the lung; (ii) PCBs produce pathological vascular remodeling in the experimental model; high levels of PCBs are found in human lung tissue; and (iii) epidemiological studies show the association between lung toxicity and PCBs; and prevalence of hypertension and elevated concentrations of particularly PCB153. Recent studies identify PCB153 as one of the largest contributors for total PCB body burden in humans. Our previous studies demonstrated PCB153 mediated vascular endothelial dysfunction and activated the inhibitor of differentiation protein 3 (ID3). ID3 is an important determinant of mitogen and reactive oxygen species-induced G1→S phase cell cycle progression. Although phosphorylation of ID3 increases cell growth by antagonizing the transcription of cell cycle inhibitors, still there is a critical gap in understanding the molecular mechanism(s) of pulmonary proliferative vascular remodeling associated with PCB exposure in humans and the role of the transcription regulator ID3. Our overall objective was to investigate ID3 mediated transcriptional reprogramming as a driver of PCB153-induced pathological proliferative vascular remodeling. Stable ectopic expression of ID3 in lung endothelial cells contributed to endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EndMT), cell proliferation, and cell migration. Using an endothelial spheroid assay, an established method to measure aberrant hyper-proliferation of endothelial cells in PAH patients, we show that stable ectopic expression of ID3 increased the number and size of vascular spheres. ID3 overexpressing cells exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of PCB153 showed a two-fold increase in cell proliferation as determined by MTT, SRB, and BrdU assays. ID3 overexpressing cells showed the loss of VE-cadherin and gain of MMP9 and vimentin, which are markers of EndMT. PCB153 also increased phosphorylation of ID3 in lung endothelial cells. To determine the molecular mechanism by which ID3 contributes to hyper-proliferative endothelial cells, we investigated ID3 transcriptional reprogramming using ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq technology. We show here for the first time that ID3 is part of a more general mechanism of transcriptional regulation. Our ChIP-Seq data show that ID3 binds to a subset of approximately 1200 target genes. Comprehensive motif analysis of ChIP-Seq data using the MEME Suite software toolkit revealed that ID3 bound to the GAGAGAGAGA motif sequence on genomic DNA. We also show a significant preference of ID3 binding to motifs associated with transcription factors IRF1, BC11A, IRF4, PRDM1, FOXJ3, SMAD4, ZBTB6, GATA1, and STAT2. Using an integrative approach of ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq data, we identified 19 genes whose promoter region was bound by ID3 and RNA was differentially expressed in ID3 overexpressing cells. In summary, our data demonstrated that PCB153 and/or ID3 induces proliferation of lung endothelial cells via transcriptional reprogramming. Discoveries from these findings will lay the necessary groundbreaking work for testing the efficacy of ID3 antagonists for the prevention and treatment of pathological vascular remodeling as well as provide a new paradigm by which PCBs may contribute to lung vascular toxicity.






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