Engulfment and cell motility protein 1 (ELMO1) is part of a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate (Rac), and ELMO1 polymorphisms were identified to be associated with diabetic nephropathy in genome-wide association studies. We generated a set of Akita Ins2C96Y diabetic mice having 5 graded cardiac mRNA levels of ELMO1 from 30% to 200% of normal and found that severe dilated cardiomyopathy develops in ELMO1-hypermorphic mice independent of renal function at age 16 weeks, whereas ELMO1-hypomorphic mice were completely protected. As ELMO1 expression increased, reactive oxygen species indicators, dissociation of the intercalated disc, mitochondrial fragmentation/dysfunction, cleaved caspase-3 levels, and actin polymerization increased in hearts from Akita mice. Cardiomyocyte-specific overexpression in otherwise ELMO1-hypomorphic Akita mice was sufficient to promote cardiomyopathy. Cardiac Rac1 activity was positively correlated with the ELMO1 levels, and oral administration of a pan-Rac inhibitor, EHT1864, partially mitigated cardiomyopathy of the ELMO1 hypermorphs. Disrupting Nox4, a Rac-independent NADPH oxidase, also partially mitigated it. In contrast, a pan-NADPH oxidase inhibitor, VAS3947, markedly prevented cardiomyopathy. Our data demonstrate that in diabetes mellitus ELMO1 is the “rate-limiting” factor of reactive oxygen species production via both Rac-dependent and Rac-independent NADPH oxidases, which in turn trigger cellular signaling cascades toward cardiomyopathy.
Masao Kakoki, Edward M. Bahnson, John R. Hagaman, Robin M. Siletzky, Ruriko Grant, Yukako Kayashima, Feng Li, Esther Y. Lee, Michelle T. Sun, Joan M. Taylor, Jessica C. Rice, Michael F. Almeida, Ben A. Bahr, J. Charles Jennette, Oliver Smithies, Nobuyo Maeda-Smithies