SMOC1 was expressed by aortic valve endothelial cells and secreted into the extracellular matrix in non-calcific valves and downregulated in calcific aortic valves. In vitro studies demonstrated that HUVEC secreted SMOC1 could enter the cytoplasm of AVICs. Overexpression of SMOC1 attenuated warfarin-induced AVIC calcification but promoted high calcium/phosphate or vitamin D-induced AVIC and aortic valve calcification by regulating BMP2 signalling both in vitro and in vivo. Co-immunoprecipitation revealed that SMOC1 binds to BMP receptor II (BMPR-II) and inhibits BMP2-induced phosphorylation of p38 (p-p38) via amino acids 372-383 of its EF-hand calcium-binding domain. Inhibition of p-p38 by the p38 inhibitor SB203580 blocked the effects of SMOC1 on BMP2 signalling and AVIC calcification induced by high calcium/phosphate medium. In high-calcium-treated AVICs, SMOC1 lost its ability to bind to BMPR-II, but not to caveolin-1, promoting p-p38 and cell apoptosis due to increased expression of BMPR-II and enhanced endocytosis.
These observations support that SMOC1 works as a dual-directional modulator of AVIC calcification by regulating p38-dependent BMP2 signalling transduction according to different extracellular calcium concentrations.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology.