Networked-based Characterization of Extracellular Matrix Proteins from Adult Mouse Pulmonary and Aortic Valves

A precise mixture of extracellular matrix (ECM) secreted by valvular cells forms a scaffold that lends the heart valve the exact mechanical and tensile strength needed for accurate hemodynamic performance. ECM proteins are a key component of valvular endothelial cell (VEC)−valvular interstitial cell (VIC) communication essential for maintenance of the valve structure. This study reports the healthy adult pulmonary and aortic valve proteomes characterized by LC−MS/MS, resulting in 2710 proteins expressed by 1513 genes, including over 300 abundant ECM proteins. Surprisingly, this study defines a distinct proteome for each semilunar valve. Protein−protein networking (PPN) was used as a tool to direct selection of proteomic candidates for biological investigation. Local PPN for nidogen 1 (Nid1), biglycan (Bgn), elastin microfibril interface-located protein 1 (Emilin-1), and milk fat globule-EGF factor 8 protein (Mfge8) were enriched with proteins essential to valve function and produced biological functions highly relevant to valve biology. Immunofluorescent investigations demonstrated that these proteins are functionally distributed within the pulmonary and aortic valve structure, indicative of important contribution to valve function. This study yields new insight into protein expression contributing to valvular maintenance and health and provides a platform for unbiased assessment of protein alterations during disease processes.