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1.  Fibroblast growth factor receptor mediates fibroblast-dependent growth in EMMPRIN depleted head and neck cancer tumor cells 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2011;9(8):1008-1017.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma tumors (HNSCC) contain a dense fibrous stroma which is known to promote tumor growth, although the mechanism of stroma mediated growth remains unclear. As dysplastic mucosal epithelium progresses to cancer there is incremental overexpression of extracellular matrix metalloprotease inducer (EMMPRIN) which is associated with tumor growth and metastasis. Here we present evidence that gain of EMMPRIN expression allows tumor growth to be less dependent on fibroblasts by modulating fibroblast growth factor receptor-2 (FGFR2) signaling. We show that silencing EMMPRIN in FaDu and SCC-5 HNSCC cell lines inhibits cell growth, but when EMMPRIN-silenced tumor cells were co-cultured with fibroblasts or inoculated with fibroblasts into SCID mice, the growth inhibition by silencing EMMPRIN was blunted by the presence of fibroblasts. Co-culture experiments demonstrated fibroblast-dependent tumor cell growth occurred via a paracrine signaling. Analysis of tumor gene expression revealed expression of FGFR2 was inversely related to EMMPRIN expression. To determine the role of FGFR2 signaling in EMMPRIN silenced tumor cells, ligands and inhibitors of FGFR2 were assessed. Both FGF1 and FGF2 enhanced tumor growth in EMMPRIN silenced cells compared to control vector transfected cells, while inhibition of FGFR2 with blocking antibody or with a synthetic inhibitor (PD173074) inhibited tumor cell growth in fibroblast co-culture, suggesting the importance of FGFR2 signaling in fibroblast mediated tumor growth. Analysis of xenografted tumors revealed EMMPRIN silenced tumors had a larger stromal compartment compared to control. Taken together, these results suggest that EMMPRIN acquired during tumor progression promotes fibroblast independent tumor growth.
PMCID: PMC3157557  PMID: 21665938
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; stroma fibroblast; extracellular matrix metalloprotease inducer and fibroblast growth factor receptor
2.  The Roles of Hyaluronan/RHAMM/CD44 and Their Respective Interactions along the Insidious Pathways of Fibrosarcoma Progression 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:929531.
Fibrosarcomas are rare malignant mesenchymal tumors originating from fibroblasts. Importantly, fibrosarcoma cells were shown to have a high content and turnover of extracellular matrix (ECM) components including hyaluronan (HA), proteoglycans, collagens, fibronectin, and laminin. ECMs are complicated structures that surround and support cells within tissues. During cancer progression, significant changes can be observed in the structural and mechanical properties of the ECM components. Importantly, hyaluronan deposition is usually higher in malignant tumors as compared to benign tissues, predicting tumor progression in some tumor types. Furthermore, activated stromal cells are able to produce tissue structure rich in hyaluronan in order to promote tumor growth. Key biological roles of HA result from its interactions with its specific CD44 and RHAMM (receptor for HA-mediated motility) cell-surface receptors. HA-receptor downstream signaling pathways regulate in turn cellular processes implicated in tumorigenesis. Growth factors, including PDGF-BB, TGFβ2, and FGF-2, enhanced hyaluronan deposition to ECM and modulated HA-receptor expression in fibrosarcoma cells. Indeed, FGF-2 through upregulation of specific HAS isoforms and hyaluronan synthesis regulated secretion and net hyaluronan deposition to the fibrosarcoma pericellular matrix modulating these cells' migration capability. In this paper we discuss the involvement of hyaluronan/RHAMM/CD44 mediated signaling in the insidious pathways of fibrosarcoma progression.
PMCID: PMC3780471  PMID: 24083250
3.  Mast cell activation and its relation to proinflammatory cytokine production in the rheumatoid lesion 
Arthritis Research  1999;2(1):65-74.
Mast cell (MC) activation in the rheumatoid lesion provides numerous mediators that contribute to inflammatory and degradative processes, especially at sites of cartilage erosion. MC activation in rheumatoid synovial tissue has often been associated with tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-1β production by adjacent cell types. By contrast, our in situ and in vitro studies have shown that the production of IL-15 was independent of MC activation, and was not related to TNF-α and IL-1β expression. Primary cultures of dissociated rheumatoid synovial cells produced all three proinflammatory cytokines, with production of IL-1β exceeding that of TNF-α, which in turn exceeded that of IL-15. In vitro cultures of synovial macrophages, synovial fibroblasts and articular chondrocytes all produced detectable amounts of free IL-15, macrophages being the most effective.
Increased numbers of mast cells (MCs) are found in the synovial tissues and fluids of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and at sites of cartilage erosion. MC activation has been reported for a significant proportion of rheumatoid specimens. Because the MC contains potent mediators, including histamine, heparin, proteinases, leukotrienes and multifunctional cytokines, its potential contributions to the processes of inflammation and matrix degradation have recently become evident.
Proinflammatory cytokines are important mediators of inflammation, immunity, proteolysis, cell recruitment and proliferation. Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) reportedly plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of RA, especially its ability to regulate interleukin (IL)-1β expression, this being important for the induction of prostanoid and matrix metalloproteinase production by synovial fibroblasts and chondrocytes. IL-15 has been assigned numerous biological effects and has been implicated as an important factor in TNF-α expression by monocyte/macrophages. Some in vitro studies have placed IL-15 upstream from TNF-α in the cytokine cascade, suggesting an interdependence between TNF, IL-1 and IL-15 for the promotion of proinflammatory cytokine expression in the rheumatoid joint.
To examine the in situ relationships of TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-15 in relation to MC activation in rheumatoid tissues by use of immunolocalization techniques; and to compare quantitatively the proinflammatory cytokine production by specific cell cultures and rheumatoid synovial explants with and without exposure to a MC secretagogue.
Materials and methods:
Samples of rheumatoid synovial tissue and cartilage–pannus junction were obtained from patients (n = 15) with classic late-stage RA. Tissue sections were immunostained for MC (tryptase) and the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1, TNF-α and IL-15. Rheumatoid synovial tissue explants were cultured in Dulbecco's modified Eagles medium (DMEM) containing either the MC secretagogue rabbit antihuman immunoglobulin (Ig)E, or control rabbit IgG. Primary rheumatoid synovial cell cultures, human articular chondrocytes, synovial fibroblasts and synovial macrophages were prepared as described in the full article. Conditioned culture media from these cultures were collected and assayed for IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-15 using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay methodology.
Immunohistological studies of rheumatoid synovial tissues have demonstrated local concentrations of MCs in most specimens of the rheumatoid lesion. Sites of MC activation were associated with localized oedema, and TNF-α, IL-1α and IL-1β production by a proportion of mononuclear inflammatory cells. By contrast, no evidence was found for IL-15 production in tissue sites containing either intact or activated MCs, and IL-15 expression, when observed, bore no relation to tissue sites where TNF-α and IL-1β were evident. The immunodetection of IL-15 was restricted to microfocal sites and was not typical of most junctional specimens, but was associated with a proportion of articular chondrocytes in a minority of junctional specimens.
MC activation within synovial explant cultures was induced by the addition of polyclonal antibody to human IgE. MC activation significantly reduced the levels of TNF-α and IL1β released into the medium, this representing approximately 33% of control values. By contrast, MC activation had little effect on the levels of IL-15 released into the culture medium, the average value being very low in relation to the release of TNF-α and IL-1β . Thus, induced MC activation brings about changes in the amounts of released tryptase, TNF-α and IL-1β , but not of IL-15.
Four preparations of primary rheumatoid synovial cell cultures produced more IL-1β than TNF-α, with only modest values for IL-15 production, indicating that all three cytokines are produced and released as free ligands by these cultures. Of specific cell types that produced IL-15 in vitro, macrophages produced more than fibroblasts, which in turn produced more than chondrocytes. This demonstrates that all three cell types have the potential to produce IL-15 in situ.
The biological consequences of MC activation in vivo are extremely complex, and in all probability relate to the release of various combinations of soluble and granular factors, as well as to the expression of appropriate receptors by neighbouring cells. The subsequent synthesis and release of cytokines such as TNF-α and IL-1 may well follow at specific stages after activation, or may be an induced cytokine response by adjacent macrophagic or fibroblastic cells. However, because no IL-15 was detectable either in or around activated or intact MCs, and the induced MC activation explant study showed no change in IL-15 production, it seems unlikely that the expression of this cytokine is regulated by MCs. The immunohistochemistry (IHC) demonstration of IL-15 at sites of cartilage erosion, and especially by some chondrocytes of articular cartilage, showed no spatial relationship with either T cells or neutrophils, and suggests other functional properties in these locations. The lack of evidence for an in situ association of IL-15 with TNF and IL-1 does not support a role for IL-15 in a proinflammatory cytokine 'cascade', as proposed by other in vitro experiments. We believe that sufficient evidence is available, however, to suggest that MC activation makes a significant contribution to the pathophysiological processes of the rheumatoid lesion.
PMCID: PMC17805  PMID: 11219391
interleukin-15; interleukin-1β; mast cells; rheumatoid arthritis; tumour necrosis factor-α
4.  Hyaluronan receptor-directed assembly of chondrocyte pericellular matrix 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1993;120(3):825-834.
Initial assembly of extracellular matrix occurs within a zone immediately adjacent to the chondrocyte cell surface termed the cell- associated or pericellular matrix. Assembly within the pericellular matrix compartment requires specific cell-matrix interactions to occur, that are mediated via membrane receptors. The focus of this study is to elucidate the mechanisms of assembly and retention of the cartilage pericellular matrix proteoglycan aggregates important for matrix organization. Assembly of newly synthesized chondrocyte pericellular matrices was inhibited by the addition to hyaluronan hexasaccharides, competitive inhibitors of the binding of hyaluronan to its cell surface receptor. Fully assembled chondrocyte pericellular matrices were displaced using hyaluronan hexasaccharides as well. When exogenous hyaluronan was added to matrix-free chondrocytes in combination with aggrecan, a pericellular matrix equivalent in size to an endogenous matrix formed within 30 min of incubation. Addition of hyaluronan and aggrecan to glutaraldehyde-fixed chondrocytes resulted in matrix assembly comparable to live chondrocytes. These matrices could be inhibited from assembling by the addition of excess hyaluronan hexasaccharides or displaced once assembled by subsequent incubation with hyaluronan hexasaccharides. The results indicate that the aggrecanrich chondrocyte pericellular matrix is not only on a scaffolding of hyaluronan, but actually anchored to the cell surface via the interaction between hyaluronan and hyaluronan receptors.
PMCID: PMC2119530  PMID: 7678838
5.  Synergistic regulation of cell function by matrix rigidity and adhesive pattern 
Biomaterials  2011;32(36):9584-9593.
Cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions play a critical role in regulating cellular behaviors. Recent studies of cell-ECM interactions have mainly focused on the actomyosin based and adhesion mediated mechanosensing pathways to understand how individual mechanical signals in the cell microenvironment, such as matrix rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern, are sensed by the cell and further trigger downstream intracellular signaling cascades and cellular responses. However, synergistic and collective regulation of cellular behaviors by matrix rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern are still elusive and largely uncharacterized. Here, we generated a library of microfabricated polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) micropost arrays to study the synergistic and independent effects of matrix rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern on mechanoresponsive behaviors of both NIH/3T3 fibroblasts and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). We showed that both cell types were mechanosensitive and their cell spreading, FA formation, cytoskeletal contractility, and proliferation were all strongly dependent on both substrate rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern. We further showed that under the same substrate rigidity condition, smaller and closer adhesive ECM islands would cause both cells to spread out more, form more adhesion structures, and have a higher proliferation rate. The influence of adhesive ECM pattern on rigidity-mediated cytoskeletal contractility was cell type specific and was only significant for NIH/3T3. Morphometric analysis of cell populations revealed a strong correlation between focal adhesion and cell spreading, regardless of substrate rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern. We also observed a strong correlation between cellular traction force and cell spreading, with a substantially smaller independent effect of substrate rigidity on traction force. Our study here had determined key aspects of the biomechanical responses of adherent cells to independent and collective changes of substrate rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern.
PMCID: PMC4120063  PMID: 21955687
Extracellular matrix (ECM); Matrix rigidity; Adhesive pattern; Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS); Mechanotransduction
6.  The effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on matrix metalloproteinase and prostaglandin E2 production by cells of the rheumatoid lesion 
Arthritis Research  1999;1(1):63-70.
The biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], acts through vitamin D receptors, which were found in rheumatoid tissues in the present study. IL-1β-activated rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes were shown to respond differently to exposure to 1α,25(OH)2D3, which has different effects on the regulatory pathways of specific matrix metalloproteinases and prostaglandin E2.
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], the biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, acts through an intracellular vitamin D receptor (VDR) and has several immunostimulatory effects. Animal studies have shown that production of some matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) may be upregulated in rat chondrocytes by administration of 1α,25(OH)2D3; and cell cultures have suggested that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may affect chondrocytic function. Discoordinate regulation by vitamin D of MMP-1 and MMP-9 in human mononuclear phagocytes has also been reported. These data suggest that vitamin D may regulate MMP expression in tissues where VDRs are expressed. Production of 1α,25(OH)2D3 within synovial fluids of arthritic joints has been shown and VDRs have been found in rheumatoid synovial tissues and at sites of cartilage erosion. The physiological function of 1α,25(OH)2D3 at these sites remains obscure. MMPs play a major role in cartilage breakdown in the rheumatoid joint and are produced locally by several cell types under strict control by regulatory factors. As 1α,25(OH)2D3 modulates the production of specific MMPs and is produced within the rheumatoid joint, the present study investigates its effects on MMP and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production in two cell types known to express chondrolytic enzymes.
To investigate VDR expression in rheumatoid tissues and to examine the effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on cultured rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts (RSFs) and human articular chondrocytes (HACs) with respect to MMP and PGE2 production.
Rheumatoid synovial tissues were obtained from arthroplasty procedures on patients with late-stage rheumatoid arthritis; normal articular cartilage was obtained from lower limb amputations. Samples were embedded in paraffin, and examined for presence of VDRs by immunolocalisation using a biotinylated antibody and alkaline-phosphatase-conjugated avidin-biotin complex system. Cultured synovial fibroblasts and chondrocytes were treated with either 1α,25(OH)2D3, or interleukin (IL)-1β or both. Conditioned medium was assayed for MMP and PGE2 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and the results were normalised relative to control values.
The rheumatoid synovial tissue specimens (n = 18) immunostained for VDRs showed positive staining but at variable distributions and in no observable pattern. VDR-positive cells were also observed in association with some cartilage-pannus junctions (the rheumatoid lesion). MMP production by RSFs in monolayer culture was not affected by treatment with 1α,25(OH)2D3 alone, but when added simultaneously with IL-1β the stimulation by IL-1β was reduced from expected levels by up to 50%. In contrast, 1α,25(OH)2D3 had a slight stimulatory effect on basal production of MMPs 1 and 3 by monolayer cultures of HACs, but stimulation of MMP-1 by IL-1β was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 whilst MMP-3 production was enhanced (Table 1). The production of PGE2 by RSFs was unaffected by 1α,25(OH)2D3 addition, but when added concomitantly with IL-1β the expected IL-1 β-stimulated increase was reduced to almost basal levels. In contrast, IL-1β stimulation of PGE2 in HACs was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 (Table 2). Pretreatment of RSFs with 1α,25(OH)2D3 for 1 h made no significant difference to IL-1β-induced stimulation of PGE2, but incubation for 16 h suppressed the expected increase in PGE2 to control values. This effect was also noted when 1α,25(OH)2D3 was removed after the 16h and the IL-1 added alone. Thus it appears that 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not interfere with the IL-1β receptor, but reduces the capacity of RSFs to elaborate PGE2 after IL-1β induction.
Cells within the rheumatoid lesion which expressed VDR were fibroblasts, macrophages, lymphocytes and endothelial cells. These cells are thought to be involved in the degradative processes associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), thus providing evidence of a functional role of 1α,25(OH)2D3 in RA. MMPs may play important roles in the chondrolytic processes of the rheumatoid lesion and are known to be produced by both fibroblasts and chondrocytes. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal MMP production by RSFs, although more pronounced differences were noted when IL-1β-stimulated cells were treated with 1α,25(OH)2D3, with the RSF and HAC showing quite disparate responses. These opposite effects may be relevant to the processes of joint destruction, especially cartilage loss, as the ability of 1α,25(OH)2D3 to potentiate MMP-1 and MMP-3 expression by 'activated' chondrocytes might facilitate intrinsic cartilage chondrolysis in vivo. By contrast, the MMP-suppressive effects observed for 1α,25(OH)2D3 treatment of 'activated' synovial fibroblasts might reduce extrinsic chondrolysis and also matrix degradation within the synovial tissue. Prostaglandins have a role in the immune response and inflammatory processes associated with RA. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal PGE2 production by RSF, but the enhanced PGE2 production observed following IL-1β stimulation of these cells was markedly suppressed by the concomitant addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3. As with MMP production, there are disparate effects of 1α,25(OH)2D3 on IL-1β stimulated PGE2 production by the two cell types; 1α,25(OH)2D3 added concomitantly with IL-1β had no effect on PGE2 production by HACs. In summary, the presence of VDRs in the rheumatoid lesion demonstrates that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may have a functional role in the joint disease process. 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not appear to directly affect MMP or PGE2 production but does modulate cytokine-induced production.
Comparative effects of 1 α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1 α,25D3) on interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and MMP-3 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
Comparative effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1α,25D3) on Interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated prostaglandin E2 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocyte in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
PMCID: PMC17774  PMID: 11056661
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3; matrix metalloproteinase; prostaglandin E2; rheumatoid arthritis
7.  IκB kinase complex (IKK) triggers detachment-induced autophagy in mammary epithelial cells independently of the PI3K-AKT-MTORC1 pathway 
Autophagy  2013;9(8):1214-1227.
Adherent cells require proper integrin-mediated extracellular matrix (ECM) engagement for growth and survival; normal cells deprived of proper ECM contact undergo anoikis. At the same time, autophagy is induced as a survival pathway in both fibroblasts and epithelial cells upon ECM detachment. Here, we further define the intracellular signals that mediate detachment-induced autophagy and uncover an important role for the IκB kinase (IKK) complex in the induction of autophagy in mammary epithelial cells (MECs) deprived of ECM contact. Whereas the PI3K-AKT-MTORC1 pathway activation potently inhibits autophagy in ECM-detached fibroblasts, enforced activation of this pathway is not sufficient to suppress detachment-induced autophagy in MECs. Instead, inhibition of IKK, as well as its upstream regulator, MAP3K7/TAK1, significantly attenuates detachment-induced autophagy in MECs. Furthermore, function-blocking experiments corroborate that both IKK activation and autophagy induction result from decreased ITGA3-ITGB1 (α3β1 integrin) function. Finally, we demonstrate that pharmacological IKK inhibition enhances anoikis and accelerates luminal apoptosis during acinar morphogenesis in three-dimensional culture. Based on these results, we propose that the IKK complex functions as a key mediator of detachment-induced autophagy and anoikis resistance in epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3748193  PMID: 23778976
autophagy; anoikis; extracellular matrix; integrin; mammary epithelial cells
8.  Role of fibroblast growth factor 8 (FGF8) in animal models of osteoarthritis 
Fibroblast growth factor 8 (FGF8) is isolated as an androgen-induced growth factor, and has recently been shown to contribute to limb morphogenesis. The aim of the present study was to clarify the role of FGF8 in animal models of osteoarthritis (OA).
The expression of FGF8 in the partial meniscectomy model of OA in the rabbit knee was examined by immunohistochemistry. The effect of intraperitoneal administration of anti-FGF8 antibody was tested in a model of OA that employed injection of monoiodoacetic acid or FGF8 into the knee joint of rats. The effect of FGF8 was also tested using cultured chondrocytes. Rabbit articular chondrocytes were treated with FGF8 for 48 hours, and the production of matrix metalloproteinase and the degradation of sulfated glycosaminoglycan in the extracellular matrix (ECM) were measured.
The expression of FGF8 in hyperplastic synovial cells and fibroblasts was induced in the meniscectomized OA model, whereas little or no expression was detected in normal synovium. Injection of FGF8 into rat knee joints induced the degradation of the ECM, which was suppressed by anti-FGF8 antibody. In the monoiodoacetic acid-induced arthritis model, anti-FGF8 antibody reduced ECM release into the synovial cavity. In cultured chondrocytes, FGF8 induced the release of matrix metalloproteinase 3 and prostaglandin E2, and caused degradation of the ECM. The combination of FGF8 and IL-1α accelerated the degradation of the ECM. Anti-FGF8 antibody suppressed the effects of FGF8 on the cells.
FGF8 is produced by injured synovium and enhances the production of protease and prostaglandin E2 from inflamed synoviocytes. Degradation of the ECM is enhanced by FGF8. FGF8 may therefore participate in the degradation of cartilage and exacerbation of osteoarthritis.
PMCID: PMC2575604  PMID: 18699993
9.  Mechanisms by which the extracellular matrix and integrin signaling act to regulate the switch between tumor suppression and tumor promotion 
Journal of mammary gland biology and neoplasia  2011;16(3):10.1007/s10911-011-9226-0.
Cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix (ECM) is necessary for development of the mammary gland, and to maintain the normal architecture and function of the gland. Cells adhere to the ECM via the integrin family of trans-membrane receptors, which signal to control mammary-specific gene expression and regulate cell proliferation and survival. During tumor formation, the ECM is extensively remodeled and signaling through integrins is altered such that cells become proliferative and invasive. A key regulator of whether integrin-mediated adhesion will promote tumor suppression or tumor formation is the stiffness of the stromal ECM. The normal mammary gland is typically surrounded by a loose collagenous stroma. An increase in the deposition of collagen and other stromal components is associated with mammographic density, which is one of the greatest risk factors for developing breast carcinoma. Several groups have demonstrated that increased stromal ECM density results in a matrix that is stiffer. Cells sense the stiffness of their surrounding ECM by Rho-mediated contraction of the actin-myosin cytoskeleton. If the surrounding ECM is stiffer than the cell's ability to contract it, then the tensile forces that result are able to drive the clustering of integrins and assemble adhesion signaling complexes. The result is subsequent activation of signaling pathways including FAK, ERK, and PI3K that drive cell proliferation and survival. In contrast, focal complexes are not formed in a compliant matrix, and activation of FAK and pERK is diminished, resulting in control of proliferation. Signaling from FAK moreover regulates p53 and miR-200 members, which control apoptosis and epithelial phenotype, such that a compliant matrix is predicted to promote normal mammary gland architecture and suppress tumor formation.
PMCID: PMC3885166  PMID: 21822945
10.  FAP-overexpressing fibroblasts produce an extracellular matrix that enhances invasive velocity and directionality of pancreatic cancer cells 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:245.
Alterations towards a permissive stromal microenvironment provide important cues for tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis. In this study, Fibroblast activation protein (FAP), a serine protease selectively produced by tumor-associated fibroblasts in over 90% of epithelial tumors, was used as a platform for studying tumor-stromal interactions.
We tested the hypothesis that FAP enzymatic activity locally modifies stromal ECM (extracellular matrix) components thus facilitating the formation of a permissive microenvironment promoting tumor invasion in human pancreatic cancer.
We generated a tetracycline-inducible FAP overexpressing fibroblastic cell line to synthesize an in vivo-like 3-dimensional (3D) matrix system which was utilized as a stromal landscape for studying matrix-induced cancer cell behaviors. A FAP-dependent topographical and compositional alteration of the ECM was characterized by measuring the relative orientation angles of fibronectin fibers and by Western blot analyses. The role of FAP in the matrix-induced permissive tumor behavior was assessed in Panc-1 cells in assorted matrices by time-lapse acquisition assays. Also, FAP+ matrix-induced regulatory molecules in cancer cells were determined by Western blot analyses.
We observed that FAP remodels the ECM through modulating protein levels, as well as through increasing levels of fibronectin and collagen fiber organization. FAP-dependent architectural/compositional alterations of the ECM promote tumor invasion along characteristic parallel fiber orientations, as demonstrated by enhanced directionality and velocity of pancreatic cancer cells on FAP+ matrices. This phenotype can be reversed by inhibition of FAP enzymatic activity during matrix production resulting in the disorganization of the ECM and impeded tumor invasion. We also report that the FAP+ matrix-induced tumor invasion phenotype is β1-integrin/FAK mediated.
Cancer cell invasiveness can be affected by alterations in the tumor microenvironment. Disruption of FAP activity and β1-integrins may abrogate the invasive capabilities of pancreatic and other tumors by disrupting the FAP-directed organization of stromal ECM and blocking β1-integrin dependent cell-matrix interactions. This provides a novel preclinical rationale for therapeutics aimed at interfering with the architectural organization of tumor-associated ECM. Better understanding of the stromal influences that fuel progressive tumorigenic behaviors may allow the effective future use of targeted therapeutics aimed at disrupting specific tumor-stromal interactions.
PMCID: PMC3141768  PMID: 21668992
11.  Hyaluronan Concentration within a 3D Collagen Matrix Modulates Matrix Viscoelasticity, But Not Fibroblast Response 
The use of 3D extracellular matrix (ECM) microenvironments to deliver growth-inductive signals for tissue repair and regeneration requires an understanding of the mechanisms of cell-ECM signaling. Recently, hyaluronic acid (HA) has been incorporated in collagen matrices in an attempt to recreate tissue specific microenvironments. However, it is not clear how HA alters biophysical properties (e.g. fibril microstructure and mechanical behavior) of collagen matrices or what impact these properties have on cell behavior. The present study determined the effects of varying high molecular weight HA concentration on 1) the assembly kinetics, fibril microstructure, and viscoelastic properties of 3D type I collagen matrices and 2) the response of human dermal fibroblasts, in terms of morphology, F-actin organization, contraction, and proliferation within the matrices. Results showed increasing HA concentration up to 1 mg/ml (HA:collagen ratio of 1:2) did not significantly alter fibril microstructure, but did significantly alter viscoelastic properties, specifically decreasing shear storage modulus and increasing compressive resistance. Interestingly, varied HA concentration did not significantly affect any of the measured fibroblast behaviors. These results show that HA-induced effects on collagen matrix viscoelastic properties result primarily from modulation of the interstitial fluid with no significant change to the fibril microstructure. Furthermore, the resulting biophysical changes to the matrix are not sufficient to modulate the cell-ECM mechanical force balance or proliferation of resident fibroblasts. These results provide new insight into the mechanisms by which cells sense and respond to microenvironmental cues and the use of HA in collagen-based biomaterials for tissue engineering.
PMCID: PMC2766663  PMID: 19442729
viscoelasticity; biophysical; collagen; extracellular matrix (ECM); hyaluronan; hyaluronic acid
12.  Overexpression of EMMPRIN Isoform 2 Is Associated with Head and Neck Cancer Metastasis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e91596.
Extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer (EMMPRIN), a plasma membrane protein of the immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily, has been reported to promote cancer cell invasion and metastasis in several human malignancies. However, the roles of the different EMMPRIN isoforms and their associated mechanisms in head and neck cancer progression remain unknown. Using quantitative real-time PCR, we found that EMMPRIN isoform 2 (EMMPRIN-2) was the only isoform that was overexpressed in both head and neck cancer tissues and cell lines and that it was associated with head and neck cancer metastasis. To determine the effects of EMMPRIN-2 on head and neck cancer progression, we transfected head and neck cancer cells with an EMMPRIN-2 expression vector and EMMPRIN-2 siRNA to exogenously modulate EMMPRIN-2 expression and examined the functional importance of EMMPRIN-2 in head and neck cancer invasion and metastasis. We found that EMMPRIN-2 promoted head and neck cancer cell invasion, migration, and adhesion in vitro and increased lung metastasis in vivo. Mechanistic studies revealed that EMMPRIN-2 overexpression promoted the secretion of extracellular signaling molecules, including matrix metalloproteinases-2(MMP-2), urokinase-type plasminogen activator(uPA) and Cathepsin B, in head and neck cancer cells. While MMP-2 and uPA have been demonstrated to be important mediators of EMMPRIN signaling, the role of Cathepsin B in EMMPRIN-mediated molecular cascades and tumorigenesis has not been established. We found that EMMPRIN-2 overexpression and Cathepsin B down-regulation significantly inhibited the invasion, migration and adhesion of Tca8133 cells, suggesting that Cathepsin B is required for EMMPRIN-2 enhanced cell migration and invasion in head and neck cancer. The results of our study demonstrate the important role of EMMPRIN-2 in head and neck cancer progression for the first time and reveal that increased extracellular secretion of Cathepsin B may be a novel mechanism underlying EMMPRIN-2 enhanced tumor progression in head and neck cancer.
PMCID: PMC3976259  PMID: 24705283
13.  Transport of Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 in the Pericellular Matrix Is Controlled by the Spatial Distribution of Its Binding Sites in Heparan Sulfate 
PLoS Biology  2012;10(7):e1001361.
A single-molecule imaging study reveals that heparan sulfate chains in the pericellular matrix present a structured network of binding sites that controls FGF2 transport.
The heparan sulfate (HS) chains of proteoglycans are a key regulatory component of the extracellular matrices of animal cells, including the pericellular matrix around the plasma membrane. In these matrices they regulate transport, gradient formation, and effector functions of over 400 proteins central to cell communication. HS from different matrices differs in its selectivity for its protein partners. However, there has been no direct test of how HS in the matrix regulates the transport of its partner proteins. We address this issue by single molecule imaging and tracking in fibroblast pericellular matrix of fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), stoichiometrically labelled with small gold nanoparticles. Transmission electron microscopy and photothermal heterodyne imaging (PHI) show that the spatial distribution of the HS-binding sites for FGF2 in the pericellular matrix is heterogeneous over length scales ranging from 22 nm to several µm. Tracking of individual FGF2 by PHI in the pericellular matrix of living cells demonstrates that they undergo five distinct types of motion. They spend much of their time in confined motion (∼110 nm diameter), but they are not trapped and can escape by simple diffusion, which may be slow, fast, or directed. These substantial translocations (µm) cover distances far greater than the length of a single HS chain. Similar molecular motion persists in fixed cells, where the movement of membrane PGs is impeded. We conclude that FGF2 moves within the pericellular matrix by translocating from one HS-binding site to another. The binding sites on HS chains form non-random, heterogeneous networks. These promote FGF2 confinement or substantial translocation depending on their spatial organisation. We propose that this spatial organisation, coupled to the relative selectivity and the availability of HS-binding sites, determines the transport of FGF2 in matrices. Similar mechanisms are likely to underpin the movement of many other HS-binding effectors.
Author Summary
The development, homeostasis, and repair of animal tissues requires communication between cells mediated by effector proteins, which are released from source cells and must move through the surrounding extracellular matrix to reach their receptors on target cells. A major component of the extracellular matrix is the polysaccharide heparan sulfate (HS); it binds the majority of these effectors and has the crucial function of regulating their transport. The mechanism underlying this function, however, is still unknown. To understand how HS regulates the transport of effectors, in this study we labelled molecules of the effector protein fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) each with a gold nanoparticle, which we could visualise and quantify by electron microscopy and by a new approach called photothermal heterodyne imaging. By imaging the gold nanoparticles, we found that the binding sites for FGF2 on HS are distributed heterogeneously in the extracellular matrix that surrounds cells in culture. Single molecule tracking indicated that these binding sites are organised into local networks that confine the FGF2 and into paths that allow its translocation over long distances (up to several micrometers). Thus, the spatial distribution of the binding sites in HS and their physicochemical properties of binding are major factors controlling the transport of effectors in extracellular matrices.
PMCID: PMC3398970  PMID: 22815649
14.  Hyaluronan and versican in the control of human T lymphocyte adhesion and migration 
Matrix Biology  2011;31(2):90-100.
The ability of lymphocytes to migrate freely through connective tissues is vital to efficient immune function. How the extracellular matrix (ECM) may affect T cell adhesion and migration is not well understood. We have examined the adhesion and migration of activated human T lymphocytes on extracellular matrix made by fibroblast-like synoviocytes and lung fibroblasts. These cells were minimally interactive until treated with a viral mimetic, Poly I:C. This treatment promoted myofibroblast formation and engendered a higher-order structured ECM rich in versican and hyaluronan to which T cells avidly adhered in a hyaluronidase-sensitive manner. This Poly I:C-induced matrix impeded T-cell spreading and migration on and through synoviocyte monolayers, while hyaluronidase treatment or adding versican antibody during matrix formation reversed the effect on T-cell migration. Hyaluronidase also reversed the spread myofibroblast morphology. These data suggest that the viscous hyaluronan- and versican-rich matrix binds and constrains T lymphocytes. Using purified matrix components and solid state matrices of defined composition we uncovered a role for versican in modulating HA - T-cell interactions. Versican prevented T-cell binding to soluble hyaluronan, as well as the amoeboid shape change on hyaluronan coated dishes and T-cell penetration of collagen gels. Together, these data suggest that hyaluronan and versican play a role in T-cell trafficking and function in inflamed tissues.
PMCID: PMC3288568  PMID: 22155153
Hyaluronan; versican; lymphocyte; migration; myofibroblast; inflammation
15.  Enhancing structural support of the dermal microenvironment activates fibroblasts, endothelial cells and keratinocytes in aged human skin in vivo 
The dermal extracellular matrix (ECM) provides strength and resiliency to skin. The ECM consists mostly of type I collagen fibrils, which are produced by fibroblasts. Binding of fibroblasts to collagen fibrils generates mechanical forces, which regulate cellular morphology and function. With aging, collagen fragmentation reduces fibroblast-ECM binding and mechanical forces, resulting in fibroblast shrinkage and reduced function including collagen production. Here, we report that these age-related alterations are largely reversed by enhancing structural support of the ECM. Injection of dermal filler, cross-linked hyaluronic acid, into the skin of persons over seventy years-old stimulates fibroblasts to produce type I collagen. This stimulation is associated with localized increased of mechanical forces, indicated by fibroblast elongation/spreading, and mediated by up-regulation of type II TGF-β receptor and connective tissue growth factor. Interestingly, enhanced mechanical support of the ECM also stimulates fibroblast proliferation, expands vasculature, and increases epidermal thickness. Consistent with our observations in human skin, injection of filler into dermal equivalent cultures causes elongation of fibroblasts, coupled with type I collagen synthesis, which is dependent on the TGF-β signaling pathway. Thus, fibroblasts in aged human skin retain their capacity for functional activation, which is restored by enhancing structural support of the ECM.
PMCID: PMC3566280  PMID: 23096713
16.  Individual versus Collective Fibroblast Spreading and Migration: Regulation by Matrix Composition in 3-D Culture 
Experimental eye research  2012;99:36-44.
Extracellular matrix (ECM) supplies both physical and chemical signals to cells and provides a substrate through which fibroblasts migrate during wound repair. To directly assess how ECM composition regulates this process, we used a nested 3D matrix model in which cell-populated collagen buttons were embedded in cell-free collagen or fibrin matrices. Time-lapse microscopy was used to record the dynamic pattern of cell migration into the outer matrices, and 3-D confocal imaging was used to assess cell connectivity and cytoskeletal organization. Corneal fibroblasts stimulated with PDGF migrated more rapidly into collagen as compared to fibrin. In addition, the pattern of fibroblast migration into fibrin and collagen ECMs was strikingly different. Corneal fibroblasts migrating into collagen matrices developed dendritic processes and moved independently, whereas cells migrating into fibrin matrices had a more fusiform morphology and formed an interconnected meshwork. A similar pattern was observed when using dermal fibroblasts, suggesting that this response in not unique to corneal cells. We next cultured corneal fibroblasts within and on top of standard collagen and fibrin matrices to assess the impact of ECM composition on the cell spreading response. Similar differences in cell morphology and connectivity were observed – cells remained separated on collagen but coalesced into clusters on fibrin. Cadherin was localized to junctions between interconnected cells, whereas fibronectin was present both between cells and at the tips of extending cell processes. Cells on fibrin matrices also developed more prominent stress fibers than those on collagen matrices. Importantly, these spreading and migration patterns were consistently observed on both rigid and compliant substrates, thus differences in ECM mechanical stiffness were not the underlying cause. Overall, these results demonstrate for the first time that ECM protein composition alone (collagen vs. fibrin) can induce a switch from individual to collective fibroblast spreading and migration in 3-D culture. Similar processes may also influence cell behavior during wound healing, development, tumor invasion and repopulation of engineered tissues.
PMCID: PMC3571722  PMID: 22838023
Extracellular Matrix; Fibrin; Collagen; 3-D Culture; Cell Motility
17.  Effect of exogenous extracellular matrices on proteoglycan synthesis by cultured rabbit costal chondrocytes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1985;100(2):486-495.
We examined the effect of an extracellular matrix (ECM), produced by either bovine corneal endothelial (BCE) cells or mouse PF HR-9 teratocarcinoma cells, on the ability of rabbit costal chondrocytes to re-express their phenotype once confluent. Rabbit chondrocytes seeded at low densities and grown on plastic tissue culture dishes produced a heterogeneous cell population composed of both overtly differentiated and poorly differentiated chondrocytes, as well as fibroblastic cells. On the other hand, cultures grown on BCE-ECM- or HR-9-ECM-coated dishes reorganized into a homogeneous cartilage-like tissue composed of round cells surrounded by a refractile matrix that stained intensely with alcian green. The cell ultrastructure and that of their pericellular matrix were similar to those seen in vivo. The differentiation of chondrocyte cultures grown on the ECMs vs. plastic was reflected by a two- to three-fold increase in the maximal rate of incorporation of [35S]sulfate and [3H]glucosamine into proteoglycans. Furthermore, the ratio of 35S-labeled proteoglycans incorporated in the cell layer vs. those released into the medium was 1.5-2.5-fold higher when cultures were grown on the ECMs than on plastic. This suggests that the ECMs stimulate the incorporation of newly synthesized proteoglycans into a cartilaginous matrix. Since chondrocyte cultures grown on BCE-ECM or HR- 9-ECM give rise to a homogeneous cartilage-like tissue even when seeded at low cell densities, they provide a model for the study of cell- substrate interactions that are responsible for the maintenance of the differentiated phenotype of chondrocytes.
PMCID: PMC2113431  PMID: 3968173
18.  Targeting Anoikis Resistance in Prostate Cancer Metastasis 
Molecular aspects of medicine  2010;31(2):205-214.
Anoikis is a mode of apoptotic cell death, consequential to insufficient cell-matrix interactions and a critical player in tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. The events involved in tumor cell progression toward metastasis potential are mediated by integrins, which upon engagement with components of the extracellular matrix (ECM), reorganize to form adhesion complexes. Targeting apoptotic players is of immense therapeutic significance since resistance to apoptosis is not only critical in conferring therapeutic failure to standard treatment strategies, but anoikis (apoptosis upon loss of anchorage and detachment from ECM also plays an important role in angiogenesis and metastasis. The ability to survive in the absence of adhesion to the ECM, enables tumor cells to disseminate from the primary tumor site, invade a distant site and establish a metastatic lesion. Tumor cells can escape from detachment-induced apoptosis by controlling anoikis pathways, including the extrinsic death receptor pathway and the ECM-integrin mediated cell survival pathway. Considering the functional promiscuity of individual signaling effectors, it is critical to dissect the molecular networks mechanistically driving tumor cells to evade anoikis and embark on a metastatic spread. Resistance to die via anoikis dictates tumor cell survival and provides a molecular basis for therapeutic targeting of metastatic prostate cancer. Further dissection of critical anoikis signaling events will enable the therapeutic optimization of anoikis targeting to impair prostate cancer metastasis prior to its initiation. This review will discuss the molecular understanding of anoikis regulation in the tumor microenvironment and the in vivo pharmacological implementation of a novel class of antitumor-drugs to optimize apoptotic-based therapeutic targeting, bypassing anoikis-resistance to impair prostate cancer progression to metastasis. Potential combination strategies targeting tumor vascularity (via anoikis) and impairing tumor initiation (via “classic” apoptosis), provide strong therapeutic promise for metastatic prostate cancer by preventing the onset of metastasis.
PMCID: PMC2988681  PMID: 20153362
Tumor progression; Invasion; Focal adhesion complex; Integrins; Akt Survival signaling
19.  The extracellular matrix ligands fibronectin and tenascin collaborate in regulating collagenase gene expression in fibroblasts. 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1994;5(4):439-453.
Tenascin (TN) is a large oligomeric glycoprotein that is present transiently in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of cells and is involved in morphogenetic movements, tissue patterning, and tissue repair. It has multiple domains, both adhesive and anti-adhesive, that interact with cells and with fibronectin (FN) and other ECM macromolecules. We have studied the consequences of the interaction of TN with a FN matrix on gene expression in rabbit synovial fibroblasts. Fibroblasts plated on a mixed substrate of FN and TN, but not on FN alone, upregulated synthesis of four genes: collagenase, stromelysin, the 92-kDa gelatinase, and c-fos. Although the fibroblasts spread well on both FN and FN/TN substrates, nuclear c-Fos increased within 1 h only in cells that were plated on FN/TN. TN did not induce the expression of collagenase in cells plated on substrates of type I collagen or vitronectin (VN). Moreover, soluble TN added to cells adhering to a FN substrate or to serum proteins had no effect, suggesting that TN has an effect only in the context of mixed substrates of FN and TN. Collagenase increased within 4 h of plating on a FN/TN substrate and exhibited kinetics similar to those for induction of collagenase gene expression by signaling through the integrin FN receptor. Arg-Gly-Asp peptide ligands that recognize either the FN receptor or the VN receptor and function-perturbing anti-integrin monoclonal antibodies diminished the interaction of fibroblasts with a mixed substrate of FN, TN, and VN, but had no effect on the adhesion of fibroblasts to a substrate of FN and VN, suggesting that both receptors recognize the complex. Anti-TN68, an antibody that recognizes an epitope in the carboxyl-terminal type III repeats involved in the interaction of TN with both FN and cells, blocked the inductive effect of the FN/TN substrate, whereas anti-TNM1, an antibody that recognizes an epitope in the amino-terminal anti-adhesive region of epidermal growth factor-like repeats, had no effect. These data suggest that transient alteration of the composition of ECM by addition of proteins like TN may regulate the expression of genes involved in cell migration, tissue remodeling, and tissue invasion, in regions of tissue undergoing phenotypic changes.
PMCID: PMC301053  PMID: 7519905
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(3):771-779.
Chondrocytes are the sole cell type in articular cartilage and maintain the extracellular matrix through a homeostatic balance of anabolic and catabolic activities that are influenced by genetic factors, soluble mediators, and biophysical factors such as mechanical stress. Chondrocytes are encapsulated by a narrow tissue region termed the “pericellular matrix”, which in normal cartilage is defined by the exclusive presence of type VI collagen. Because the pericellular matrix completely surrounds each cell, it is hypothesized to serve as a filter or transducer for biochemical and/or biomechanical signals from the cartilage extracellular matrix. In this study, we used Col6a1−/− mice to investigate whether the lack of collagen VI may affect the development and biomechanical function of the pericellular matrix and alter the mechanical environment of the chondrocytes during joint loading. Col6a1−/− and Col6a1+/− mice possessed structurally intact pericellular matrices, but with significantly reduced mechanical properties as compared to wild-type controls. With age, Col6a1−/− showed accelerated development of osteoarthritic joint degeneration, as well as other musculoskeletal abnormalities such as delayed secondary ossification process and reduced bone mineral density. These findings suggest an important role for type VI collagen in regulating the physiology of the synovial joint, and provide indirect evidence that alterations in the mechanical environment of the chondrocytes, either due to loss of pericellular matrix properties or Col6α1−/− derived joint laxity, can lead to the progression of osteoarthritis.
PMCID: PMC2724839  PMID: 19248115
arthritis; collagen VI; proteoglycan; pericellular matrix; chondron; chondrocyte
21.  Regulation of autophagy during ECM detachment is linked to a selective inhibition of mTORC1 by PERK 
Oncogene  2012;32(41):4932-4940.
Adhesion to the extracellular matrix (ECM) is critical for epithelial tissue homeostasis and function. ECM detachment induces metabolic stress and programmed cell death via anoikis. ECM-detached mammary epithelial cells are able to rapidly activate autophagy allowing for survival and an opportunity for re-attachment. However, the mechanisms controlling detachment-induced autophagy remain unclear. Here we uncover that the kinase PERK rapidly promotes autophagy in ECM-detached cells by activating AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), resulting in downstream inhibition of mTORC1-p70S6K signaling. LKB1 and TSC2, but not TSC1, are required for PERK-mediated inhibition of mammalian target of rapamycinin MCF10A cells and mouse embryo fibroblast cells. Importantly, this pathway shows fast kinetics, is transcription-independent and is exclusively activated during ECM detachment, but not by canonical endoplasmic reticulum stressors. Moreover, enforced PERK or AMPK activation upregulates autophagy and causes luminal filling during acinar morphogenesis by perpetuating a population of surviving autophagic luminal cells that resist anoikis. Hence, we identify a novel pathway in which suspension-activated PERK promotes the activation of LKB1, AMPK and TSC2, leading to the rapid induction of detachment-induced autophagy. We propose that increased autophagy, secondary to persistent PERK and LKB1-AMPK signaling, can robustly protect cells from anoikis and promote luminal filling during early carcinoma progression.
PMCID: PMC3600386  PMID: 23160380
anoikis; breast cancer; unfolded protein response
22.  PKCδ Localization at the Membrane Increases Matrix Traction Force Dependent on PLCγ1/EGFR Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77434.
During wound healing, fibroblasts initially migrate into the wound bed and later contract the matrix. Relevant mediators of transcellular contractility revealed by systems analyses are protein kinase c delta/myosin light chain-2 (PKCδ/MLC-2). PKCδ is activated by growth factor-driven PLCγ1 hydrolysis of phosphoinositide bisphosphate (PIP2) hydrolysis when it becomes tranlocated to the membrane. This leads to MLC-2 phosphorylation that regulates myosin for contractility. Furthermore, PKCδ n-terminus mediates PKCδ localization to the membrane in relative proximity to PLCγ1 activity. However, the role this localization and the relationship to its activation and signaling of force is not well understood. Therefore, we investigated whether the membrane localization of PKCδ mediates the transcellular contractility of fibroblasts.
To determine PKCδ activation in targeted membrane locations in mouse fibroblast cells (NR6-WT), two PKCδ constructs were generated; PKCδ-CaaX with farnesylation moiety targeting PKCδ to the membrane and PKCδ-SaaX a non-targeting control.
Increased mean cell force was observed before and during EGF stimulation in fibroblasts expressing membrane-targeted PKCδ (PKCδ-CaaX) when analyzed with 2D cell traction force and 3D compaction of collagen matrix. This effect was reduced in cells deficient in EGFR/PLCy1 signaling. In cells expressing non-membrane targeted PKCδ (PKCδ-SaaX), the cell force exerted outside the ECM (extracellular matrix) was less, but cell motility/speed/persistence was increased after EGF stimulation. Change in cell motility and increased force exertion was also preceded by change in cell morphology. Organization of actin stress fibers was also decreased as a result of increasing membrane targeting of PKCδ.
From these results membrane tethering of PKCδ leads to increased force exertion on ECM. Furthermore, our data show PLCγ1 regulation of PKCδ, at least in part, drives transcellular contractility in fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC3796482  PMID: 24155954
23.  Neoplastic and Stromal Cells Contribute to an Extracellular Matrix Gene Expression Profile Defining a Breast Cancer Subtype Likely to Progress 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56761.
We recently showed that differential expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) genes delineates four subgroups of breast carcinomas (ECM1, -2, -3- and -4) with different clinical outcome. To further investigate the characteristics of ECM signature and its impact on tumor progression, we conducted unsupervised clustering analyses in 6 additional independent datasets of invasive breast tumors from different platforms for a total of 643 samples. Use of four different clustering algorithms identified ECM3 tumors as an independent group in all datasets tested. ECM3 showed a homogeneous gene pattern, consisting of 58 genes encoding 43 structural ECM proteins. From 26 to 41% of the cases were ECM3-enriched, and analysis of datasets relevant to gene expression in neoplastic or corresponding stromal cells showed that both stromal and breast carcinoma cells can coordinately express ECM3 genes. In in vitro experiments, β-estradiol induced ECM3 gene production in ER-positive breast carcinoma cell lines, whereas TGFβ induced upregulation of the genes leading to ECM3 gene classification, especially in ER-negative breast carcinoma cells and in fibroblasts. Multivariate analysis of distant metastasis-free survival in untreated breast tumor patients revealed a significant interaction between ECM3 and histological grade (p = 0.001). Cox models, estimated separately in grade I–II and grade III tumors, indicated a highly significant association between ECM3 and worse survival probability only in grade III tumors (HR = 3.0, 95% CI = 1.3–7.0, p = 0.0098). Gene Set Enrichment analysis of ECM3 compared to non-ECM3 tumors revealed significant enrichment of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) genes in both grade I–II and grade III subsets of ECM3 tumors. Thus, ECM3 is a robust cluster that identifies breast carcinomas with EMT features but with accelerated metastatic potential only in the undifferentiated (grade III) phenotype. These findings support the key relevance of neoplastic and stroma interaction in breast cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC3575489  PMID: 23441215
24.  Fibroblasts in fibrosis: novel roles and mediators 
Fibroblasts are the most common cell type of the connective tissues found throughout the body and the principal source of the extensive extracellular matrix (ECM) characteristic of these tissues. They are also the central mediators of the pathological fibrotic accumulation of ECM and the cellular proliferation and differentiation that occurs in response to prolonged tissue injury and chronic inflammation. The transformation of the fibroblast cell lineage involves classical developmental signaling programs and includes a surprisingly diverse range of precursor cell types—most notably, myofibroblasts that are the apex of the fibrotic phenotype. Myofibroblasts display exaggerated ECM production; constitutively secrete and are hypersensitive to chemical signals such as cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors; and are endowed with a contractile apparatus allowing them to manipulate the ECM fibers physically to close open wounds. In addition to ECM production, fibroblasts have multiple concomitant biological roles, such as in wound healing, inflammation, and angiogenesis, which are each interwoven with the process of fibrosis. We now recognize many common fibroblast-related features across various physiological and pathological protracted processes. Indeed, a new appreciation has emerged for the role of non-cancerous fibroblast interactions with tumors in cancer progression. Although the predominant current clinical treatments of fibrosis involve non-specific immunosuppressive and anti-proliferative drugs, a variety of potential therapies under investigation specifically target fibroblast biology.
PMCID: PMC4034148  PMID: 24904424
fibroblast; myofibroblast; fibrosis; scleroderma; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; extracellular matrix; endostatin
25.  Osteopontin (OPN) Is an Important Protein to Mediate Improvements in the Biocompatibility of C Ion-Implanted Silicone Rubber 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98320.
Medical device implants are drawing increasing amounts of interest from modern medical practitioners. However, this attention is not evenly spread across all such devices; most of these implantable devices can cause adverse reactions such as inflammation, fibrosis, thrombosis, and infection. In this work, the biocompatibility of silicone rubber (SR) was improved through carbon (C) ion implantation. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) results confirmed that these newly generated carbon-implanted silicone rubbers (C-SRs) had large, irregular peaks and deep valleys on their surfaces. The water contact angle of the SR surface decreased significantly after C ion implantation. C ion implantation also changed the surface charge distribution, silicone oxygen rate, and chemical-element distribution of SR to favor cell attachment. The dermal fibroblasts cultured on the surface C-SR grew faster and showed more typical fibroblastic shapes. The expression levels of major adhesion proteins, including talin-1, zyxin, and vinculin, were significantly higher in dermal fibroblasts cultured on C-SR coated plates than in dermal fibroblasts cultured on SR. Those same dermal fibroblasts on C-SRs showed more pronounced adhesion and migration abilities. Osteopontin (OPN), a critical extracellular matrix (ECM) protein, was up-regulated and secreted from dermal fibroblasts cultured on C-SR. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) activity was also increased. These cells were highly mobile and were able to adhere to surfaces, but these abilities were inhibited by the monoclonal antibody against OPN, or by shRNA-mediated MMP-9 knockdown. Together, these results suggest that C ion implantation significantly improves SR biocompatibility, and that OPN is important to promote cell adhesion to the C-SR surface.
PMCID: PMC4049582  PMID: 24911051

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