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Shaik O. Rahaman, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, USA. His laboratory is interested in elucidating the signaling events underlying the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and fibrosis. Dr. Rahaman earned his PhD in Molecular Biology at Jadavpur University, and a BS in Human Physiology (Honors), and an MS in Biophysics and Molecular Biology from University of Calcutta. From 2000-2014, Dr. Rahaman worked at Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, USA, as a Postdoctoral Fellow, eventually as a Project Scientist and Assistant Professor. He was the recipient of the American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant, NIH-R01 grant, and NSF grant. Dr. Rahaman is the author or co-author of 23 research papers in high impact international peer-reviewed journals of repute. Dr. Rahaman has given numerous invited talks nationally and internationally, and is a reviewer/editorial board member in numerous scientific journals. Dr. Rahaman also served as a reviewer for National Institute of Health (USA).
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in developed world, and atherosclerosis, a chronic inflammatory arterial disease, is the most dominant underlying pathology. Macrophages are thought to orchestrate atherosclerosis by generating lipid-laden foam cells and by secreting inflammatory mediators. Emerging data support a role for a mechanical factor, e.g., matrix stiffness, in regulation of macrophage function and atherogenesis. We have obtained evidence that TRPV4, an ion channel in the transient receptor potential vanilloid family and a known mechanosensor, is the likely mediator of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL)-dependent macrophage foam cell formation, a critical process in atherogenesis. Specifically, we found that: i) genetic ablation of TRPV4 or pharmacologic inhibition of TRPV4 activity by a specific antagonist blocked oxLDL-induced macrophage foam cell formation, and ii) TRPV4 deficiency prevented matrix stiffness or scratch-induced exacerbation of oxLDL-induced foam cell formation. Mechanistically, we found that: i) plasma membrane localization of TRPV4 was sensitized to the increasing level of matrix stiffness, and ii) TRPV4 activity regulated oxLDL uptake but not its internalization in macrophages. Altogether, these findings identify a novel role for TRPV4 in regulating macrophage foam cell formation by modulating uptake of oxLDL.