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Chee Jian Pua - Top 30 Publications

IL-11 is a crucial determinant of cardiovascular fibrosis.

Fibrosis is a common pathology in cardiovascular disease. In the heart, fibrosis causes mechanical and electrical dysfunction and in the kidney, it predicts the onset of renal failure. Transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) is the principal pro-fibrotic factor, but its inhibition is associated with side effects due to its pleiotropic roles. We hypothesized that downstream effectors of TGFβ1 in fibroblasts could be attractive therapeutic targets and lack upstream toxicity. Here we show, using integrated imaging-genomics analyses of primary human fibroblasts, that upregulation of interleukin-11 (IL-11) is the dominant transcriptional response to TGFβ1 exposure and required for its pro-fibrotic effect. IL-11 and its receptor (IL11RA) are expressed specifically in fibroblasts, in which they drive non-canonical, ERK-dependent autocrine signalling that is required for fibrogenic protein synthesis. In mice, fibroblast-specific Il11 transgene expression or Il-11 injection causes heart and kidney fibrosis and organ failure, whereas genetic deletion of Il11ra1 protects against disease. Therefore, inhibition of IL-11 prevents fibroblast activation across organs and species in response to a range of important pro-fibrotic stimuli. These results reveal a central role of IL-11 in fibrosis and we propose that inhibition of IL-11 is a potential therapeutic strategy to treat fibrotic diseases.

Novel Index of Maladaptive Myocardial Remodeling in Hypertension.

Hypertensive left ventricular hypertrophy (HTN-LVH) is a leading cause of heart failure. Conventional patterns of cardiac geometry do not adequately risk-stratify patients with HTN-LVH. Using cardiovascular magnetic resonance, we developed a novel Remodeling Index (RI) that was designed to detect an exaggerated hypertrophic response to hypertension and tested its potential to risk-stratify hypertensive patients.

Defining the genetic architecture of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: re-evaluating the role of non-sarcomeric genes.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) exhibits genetic heterogeneity that is dominated by variation in eight sarcomeric genes. Genetic variation in a large number of non-sarcomeric genes has also been implicated in HCM but not formally assessed. Here we used very large case and control cohorts to determine the extent to which variation in non-sarcomeric genes contributes to HCM.

Development of a Comprehensive Sequencing Assay for Inherited Cardiac Condition Genes.

Inherited cardiac conditions (ICCs) are characterised by marked genetic and allelic heterogeneity and require extensive sequencing for genetic characterisation. We iteratively optimised a targeted gene capture panel for ICCs that includes disease-causing, putatively pathogenic, research and phenocopy genes (n = 174 genes). We achieved high coverage of the target region on both MiSeq (>99.8% at ≥ 20× read depth, n = 12) and NextSeq (>99.9% at ≥ 20×, n = 48) platforms with 100% sensitivity and precision for single nucleotide variants and indels across the protein-coding target on the MiSeq. In the final assay, 40 out of 43 established ICC genes informative in clinical practice achieved complete coverage (100 % at ≥ 20×). By comparison, whole exome sequencing (WES; ∼ 80×), deep WES (∼ 500×) and whole genome sequencing (WGS; ∼ 70×) had poorer performance (88.1, 99.2 and 99.3% respectively at ≥ 20×) across the ICC target. The assay described here delivers highly accurate and affordable sequencing of ICC genes, complemented by accessible cloud-based computation and informatics. See Editorial in this issue (DOI: 10.1007/s12265-015-9667-8 ).