Around the fifth week after birth, the vaginal cavity in female mouse pups opens to the overlaying skin. This postnatal tissue remodeling of the genital tract occurs during puberty, and it largely depends upon hormonally induced apoptosis that mainly occurs in the epithelium at the lower part of the mouse vaginal cavity. Previously, we showed that most BALB/c mice lacking the class IV Semaphorin (Sema4D) develop imperforate vagina and hydrometrocolpos; therefore, we reasoned that the absence of Sema4D-induced apoptosis in vaginal epithelial cells may cause the imperforate vagina. Sema4D signals via the Plexin-B1 receptor; nevertheless detailed mechanisms mediating this hormonally triggered apoptosis are not fully documented. To investigate the estrogen-dependent control of Sema4D signaling during the apoptosis responsible for mouse vaginal opening, we examined structural and functional modulation of Sema4D, Plexin-B1, and signaling molecules by analyzing both wild-type and Sema4D−/− mice with or without ovariectomy. Both the release of soluble Sema4D and the conversion of Plexin-B1 by proteolytic processing in vaginal tissue peaked 5 weeks after birth of wild-type BALB/c mice at the time of vaginal opening. Estrogen supplementation of ovariectomized wild-type mice revealed that both the release of soluble Sema4D and the conversion of Plexin-B1 into an active form were estrogen-dependent and concordant with apoptosis. Estrogen supplementation of ovariectomized Sema4D−/− mice did not induce massive vaginal apoptosis in 5-week-old mice; therefore, Sema4D may be an essential apoptosis-inducing ligand that acts downstream of estrogen action in vaginal epithelium during this postnatal tissue remodeling. Analysis of ovariectomized mice also indicated that Sema4D contributed to estrogen-dependent dephosphorylation of Akt and ERK at the time of vaginal opening. Based on our results, we propose that apoptosis in vaginal epithelium during postnatal vaginal opening is induced by enhanced Sema4D signaling that is caused by estrogen-dependent structural changes of Sema4D and Plexin-B1.
Semaphorin 4A (Sema4A) plays critical roles in many physiological and pathological processes including neuronal development, angiogenesis, immune response regulation, autoimmunity, and infectious diseases. The present study aimed to investigate its expression and biological activity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
RNA and protein were isolated from synovial tissues in RA and osteoarthritis (OA) patients. Treatment with recombinant human Sema4A (rhSema4A) or small interfering RNA (siRNA) was applied to examine its effect on the biological activity of synovial fibroblasts of RA (RASFs). Expression of Sema4A and NF-κB were measured by quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) and Western blot after lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and siRNA targeting p50 and p60 were applied to detect the regulation of Nuclear factor kappa (NF-κB) on Sema4A. Sema4A, interleukin 1β (IL-1β), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) secretion were measured by ELISA-based assays.
Increased levels of Sema4A were detected in the synovial tissue and fluid of patients with RA compared with those with OA. Furthermore, synovial fluid level of Sema4A correlated with Disease Activity Score (DAS) in RA. Treatment with rhSema4A promoted invasion of RASFs by upregulating the expression of Matrix metallopeptidase3 (MMP3), MMP9, alpha-smooth muscle actin(α-SMA), and Vimentin, and exacerbated inflammation by promoting the production of IL-6 in RASFs, as well as IL-1β and TNF-α in THP-1 cells. The induction of IL-6 and TNF-α by Sema4A was confirmed at the protein level in fluid samples from patients with RA. Knock-down experiments showed the participation of Plexin B1 towards rhSema4A in the induction of cytokines. In addition, LPS stimulation induced Sema4A expression in RASFs in an NF-κB-dependent manner, and rhSema4A treatment could also activate NF-κB signaling.
These findings suggest an NF-κB-dependent modulation of Sema4A in the immune response. Further, increased expression of Sema4A is required to promote inflammation of RA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0734-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Semaphorin (Sema) 7a regulates TGF- β1 induced fibrosis. Using a murine model of pulmonary fibrosis in which an inducible, bioactive form of the human TGF- β1 gene is overexpressed in the lung, we tested the hypothesis that Sema-7a exerts its pro-fibrotic effects in part by promoting the tissue accumulation of CD45+ fibrocytes.
Fibrosis and fibrocytes were evaluated in TGF- β1 transgenic mice in which the Sema-7a locus had been disrupted. The effect of replacement or deletion of Sema-7a on bone marrow derived cells was ascertained using bone marrow transplantation. The role of the Sema-7a receptor β1 integrin was assessed using neutralizing antibodies. The applicability of these findings to TGF-β1-driven fibrosis in humans was examined in patients with scleroderma-related interstitial lung disease.
The appearance of fibrocytes in the lungs in TGF- β1 transgenic mice requires Sema-7a. Replacement of Sema-7a in bone marrow derived cells restores lung fibrosis and fibrocytes. Immunoneutralization of β1 integrin reduces pulmonary fibrocytes and fibrosis. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with scleroderma-related interstitial lung disease show increased mRNA for Sema-7a and the β1 integrin, with Sema-7a located on collagen producing fibrocytes and CD19+ lymphocytes. Peripheral blood fibrocyte outgrowth is enhanced in these patients. Stimulation of normal human peripheral blood mononuclear cells with recombinant Sema-7a enhances fibrocyte differentiation; these effects are attenuated by β1 integrin neutralization.
Interventions that reduce Sema-7a expression or prevent the Sema-7a - β1 integrin interaction may be ameliorative in TGF- β1-driven or fibrocyte-associated autoimmune fibroses.
Semaphorins were originally identified as molecules regulating a functional activity of axons in the nervous system. Sema4A and Sema4D were the first semaphorins found to be expressed on immune cells and were termed "immune semaphorins". It is known that Sema4A and Sema4D bind Tim-2 and CD72 expressed on leukocytes and PlexinD1 and B1 present on non-immune cells. These neuroimmune semaphorins and their receptors have been shown to play critical roles in many physiological and pathological processes including neuronal development, immune response regulation, cancer, autoimmune, cardiovascular, renal, and infectious diseases. However, the expression and regulation of Sema4A, Sema4D, and their receptors in normal and allergic lungs is undefined.
Allergen treatment and lung-specific vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression induced asthma-like pathologies in the murine lungs. These experimental models of allergic airway inflammation were used for the expression analysis of immune semaphorins and their receptors employing immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry techniques. We found that besides accessory-like cells, Sema4A was also detected on bronchial epithelial and smooth muscle cells, whereas Sema4D expression was high on immune cells such as T and B lymphocytes. Surprisingly, under inflammation various cell types including macrophages, lymphocytes, and granulocytes in the lung expressed Tim-2, a previously defined marker for Th2 cells. CD72 was found on lung immune, inflammatory, and epithelial cells. Bronchial epithelial cells were positive for both plexins, whereas some endothelial cells selectively expressed Plexin D1. Plexin B1 expression was also detected on lung DC. Both allergen and VEGF upregulated the expression of neuroimmune semaphorins and their receptors in the lung tissue. However, the lung tissue Sema4A-Tim2 expression was rather weak, whereas Sema4D-CD72 ligand-receptor pair was vastly upregulated by allergen. Soluble Sema4D protein was present in the lung lysates and a whole Sema4A protein plus its dimer were readily detected in the bronchoalveolar (BAL) fluids under inflammation.
This study clearly shows that neuroimmune semaphorins Sema4A and Sema4D and their receptors might serve as potential markers for the allergic airway inflammatory diseases. Our current findings pave the way for further investigations of the role of immune semaphorins in inflammation and their use as potential therapeutic targets for the inflammatory lung conditions.
Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is a major cause of vision loss in retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Previously, we demonstrated that semaphorin3A (Sema3A), which is a chemorepellent guidance molecule, inhibited the formation of retina neovascularization. In the present study, we investigated the antiangiogenic effects of Sema3A on transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) in vitro and in vivo.
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) were used to measure the TGF-β levels in the vitreous humor of patients with AMD and controls. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were used for the in vitro study, and a laser-induced CNV mouse model was prepared for the in vivo study. The HUVECs were incubated with TGF-β and Sema3A. The proliferation, migration, apoptosis, and tube formation of the cells were then measured using BrdU, Transwell, flow cytometry, and Matrigel assays, respectively, and the SMAD2/3 signaling pathways were analyzed using western blot analysis. The C57BL/6J mouse retina was exposed to a laser to induce choroidal neovascularization (CNV), and Sema3A was injected intravitreously. After 14 days, fundus fluorescein angiography was performed to evaluate the leakage area of the CNV. The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and TGF-β concentrations in the retina-choroid complex were measured with ELISA. Components of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 (ERK1/2), c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), and SMAD2/3 signaling pathways in the Sema3A-treated groups were analyzed using western blotting.
In this study, we first verified that the vitreous TGF-β level was higher in patients with neovascular AMD than in the controls. We also showed that Sema3A inhibited TGF-β-induced HUVEC proliferation, migration, and tube formation and inhibited the downstream SMAD2/3 signaling pathway. Sema3A also induced TGF-β-stimulated HUVEC apoptosis and inhibited the response of TGF-β in vitro. In vivo, the TGF-β level was increased in the CNV mouse model. Sema3A not only inhibited laser-induced CNV formation but also inhibited the uptake of VEGF and TGF-β. In the western blot analysis, Sema3A was shown to inhibit the phosphorylation of p38 MAPK, ERK1/2, and JNK and to inhibit the SMAD2/3 signaling pathway after Sema3A treatment in CNV mice.
Sema3A can be applied as a useful, adjunctive therapeutic strategy for preventing CNV formation.
Background. The p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) is an important intracellular signal transduction pathway involved in TGF-β1-induced epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). Sema4C, a member of the semaphorin family, was found to be essential for the activation of p38 MAPK. However, the role of Sema4C in promoting TGF-β1-induced EMT is unclear.
Methods. Renal fibrosis was induced by 5/6 subtotal nephrectomy rat model. In vitro, Sema4C was induced in human proximal tubular epithelial cells (HKC) by treatment with TGF-β1, or was inhibited by siRNA or was over-expressed by Sema4C transfection. The selective p38 MAPK inhibitor, SB203580, was administered to inhibit the p38 pathway. The expression of Sema4C, the markers of EMT, p38 phosphorylation and fibronectin secretion were measured by western blotting, immunohistochemistry, immunocytochemistry or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results. The expression of Sema4C increased in HKC cells that were treated with TGF-β1. Knockdown of Sema4C potently inhibited phosphorylation of p38 MAPK and reversed TGF-β1-induced EMT. Over-expression of Sema4C via Sema4C transfection elicited p38 MAPK phosphorylation and promoted EMT. The effects of Sema4C during EMT were blocked by a p38-specific inhibitor. In vivo, the expression of Sema4C increased in the tubular epithelia of 5/6-nephrectomized rats and human fibrotic renal tissue, and similar localization of phosphorylated p38 and Sema4C was demonstrated by immunohistochemistry on serial sections.
Conclusions. Our findings suggest that Sema4C plays an important role in TGF-β1-induced EMT through activation of p38 MAPK in proximal tubular epithelial cells.
epithelial to mesenchymal transition; p38 MAPK; Sema4C; TGF-β1
The semaphorins and their receptors, the plexins, are proteins related to c-Met and the scatter factors that have been implicated in an expanding signal transduction network involving co-receptors, RhoA and Ras activation and deactivation, and phosphorylation events. Our previous work has demonstrated that Semaphorin 4D (Sema4D) acts through its receptor, Plexin-B1, on endothelial cells to promote angiogenesis in a RhoA and Akt-dependent manner. Since NF-κB has been linked to promotion of angiogenesis and can be activated by Akt in some contexts, we wanted to examine NF-κB in Sema4D treated cells to determine if there was biological significance for the pro-angiogenic phenotype observed in endothelium.
Using RNA interference techniques, gel shifts and NF-κB reporter assays, we demonstrated NF-κB translocation to the nucleus in Sema4D treated endothelial cells occurring downstream of Plexin-B1. This response was necessary for endothelial cell migration and capillary tube formation and protected endothelial cells against apoptosis as well, but had no effect on cell proliferation. We dissected Plexin-B1 signaling with chimeric receptor constructs and discovered that the ability to activate NF-κB was dependent upon Plexin-B1 acting through Rho and Akt, but did not involve its role as a Ras inhibitor. Indeed, inhibition of Rho by C3 toxin and Akt by LY294002 blocked Sema4D-mediated endothelial cell migration and tubulogenesis. We also observed that Sema4D treatment of endothelial cells induced production of the NF-κB downstream target IL-8, a response necessary for angiogenesis. Finally, we could show through co-immunofluorescence for p65 and CD31 that Sema4D produced by tumor xenografts in nude mice activated NF-κB in vessels of the tumor stroma.
These findings provide evidence that Sema4D/Plexin-B1-mediated NF-κB activation and IL-8 production is critical in the generation a pro-angiogenic phenotype in endothelial cells and suggests a new therapeutic target for the anti-angiogenic treatment of some cancers.
Semaphorins and Plexins are cognate ligand-receptor families that regulate important steps during nervous system development. The Plexin-B2 receptor is critically involved in neural tube closure and cerebellar granule cell development, however, its specific ligands have only been suggested by in vitro studies. Here, we show by in vivo and in vitro analyses that the two Semaphorin-4 family members Sema4C and Sema4G are likely to be in vivo ligands of Plexin-B2. The Sema4C and Sema4G genes are expressed in the developing cerebellar cortex, and Sema4C and Sema4G proteins specifically bind to Plexin-B2 expressing cerebellar granule cells. To further elucidate their in vivo function, we have generated and analyzed Sema4C and Sema4G knock-out mouse mutants. Like Plexin-B2−/− mutants, Sema4C−/− mutants reveal exencephaly and subsequent neonatal lethality with partial penetrance. Sema4C−/− mutants that bypass exencephaly are viable and fertile, but display distinctive defects of the cerebellar granule cell layer, including gaps in rostral lobules, fusions of caudal lobules, and ectopic granule cells in the molecular layer. In addition to neuronal defects, we observed in Sema4C−/− mutants also ventral skin pigmentation defects that are similar to those found in Plexin-B2−/− mutants. The Sema4G gene deletion causes no overt phenotype by itself, but combined deletion of Sema4C and Sema4G revealed an enhanced cerebellar phenotype. However, Sema4C/Sema4G double mutants showed overall less severe cerebellar phenotypes than Plexin-B2−/− mutants, indicating that further ligands of Plexin-B2 exist. In explant cultures of the developing cerebellar cortex, Sema4C promoted migration of cerebellar granule cell precursors in a Plexin-B2-dependent manner, supporting the model that a reduced migration rate of granule cell precursors is the basis for the cerebellar defects of Sema4C−/− and Sema4C/Sema4G mutants.
Cerebellum; lobule; granule cell migration; Semaphorin; Plexin
Semaphorins are important molecules in embryonic development and multiple semaphorins have been identified as having key roles in immune regulation. To date, there is little known about Semaphorin 4C (Sema4C) in immune biology. We report for the first time that Sema4C is inducible in human and murine B-cells and may be important for normal B-cell development.
Human tonsillar B-cells were studied following activation via anti-CD40 antibodies in the presence or absence of representative Th1, Th2, and regulatory cytokines. Murine B-cells from WT and Sema4C−/− mice were similarly stimulated. B-cell phenotyping in WT and Sema4C mutant mice was performed by flow cytometry and lymphoid architecture was studied by immunohistochemistry. Sema4C expression and synapse formation were analyzed by confocal microscopy.
Gene array studies performed on human tonsillar B-cells stimulated to produce IgE revealed that Sema4C was among the top genes expressed at 24 h, and the only semaphorin to be increased under Th2 conditions. Validation studies demonstrated that human and murine B-cells expressed Sema4C under similar conditions. Sema4C−/− mice had impaired maturation of B-cell follicles in spleens and associated decreases in follicular and marginal zone B-cells as well as impaired IgG and IgA production. In keeping with a potential role in maturation of B-cells, Sema4C was expressed predominantly on CD27+ human B-cells. Within 72 h of B-cell activation, Sema4C was localized to one pole in a synapse-like structure, in association with F-actin, B-cell receptor, and Plexin-B2. Cell polarization was impaired in Sema4C−/− mice.
We have identified a novel immune semaphorin induced in human and murine B-cells under Th2 conditions. Sema4C appears to be a marker for human memory B-cells. It may be important for B-cell polarization and for the formation of normal splenic follicles.
Semaphorin 4C; B-cells; immune synapse; Th2 responses
The opening of the mouse vaginal cavity to the skin is a postnatal tissue remodeling process that occurs at approximately five weeks of age for the completion of female genital tract maturation at puberty. The tissue remodeling process is primarily composed of a hormonally triggered apoptotic process predominantly occurring in the epithelium of the distal section of the vaginal cavity. However, the detailed mechanism underlying the apoptotic induction remains to be elucidated. In the present study, it was observed that the majority of BALB/c mice lacking the class 4 semaphorin, semaphorin 4D (Sema4D), developed imperforate vagina and hydrometrocolpos resulting in a perpetually unopened vaginal cavity regardless of a normal estrogen level comparable with that in wild-type (WT) mice. Administration of β-estradiol to infant Sema4D-deficient (Sema4D−/−) mice did not induce precocious vaginal opening, which was observed in WT mice subjected to the same β-estradiol administration, excluding the possibility that the closed vaginal phenotype was due to insufficient estrogen secretion at the time of vaginal opening. In order to assess the role of Sema4D in the postnatal vaginal tissue remodeling process, the expression of Sema4D and its receptor, plexin-B1, was examined as well as the level of apoptosis in the vaginal epithelia of five-week-old WT and Sema4D−/− mice. Immunohistochemical analyses confirmed the localization of Sema4D and plexin-B1 in the mouse vaginal epithelia. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling assay and immunohistochemistry detecting activated caspase-3 revealed significantly fewer apoptotic cells in situ in the vaginal mucosa of five-week-old Sema4D−/− mice compared with WT mice. The addition of recombinant Sema4D to Sema4D−/− vaginal epithelial cells in culture significantly enhanced apoptosis of the vaginal epithelial cells, demonstrating the apoptosis-inducing activity of Sema4D. The experimental reduction of plexin-B1 expression in vaginal epithelial cells demonstrated the integral role of plexin-B1 in Sema4D-induced apoptotic cell death. These results suggest a non-redundant role of Sema4D in the postnatal tissue remodeling process in five-week-old BALB/c mice, which involves the induction of vaginal epithelial cell apoptosis through Sema4D binding to plexin-B1.
semaphorin; axon guidance; growth cone collapse; apoptosis
Originally identified as axonal guidance cues, semaphorins are expressed throughout many different tissues and regulate numerous non-neuronal processes. We demonstrate that most class III semaphorins are expressed in mouse osteoblasts and are differentially regulated by cell growth and differentiation: Sema3d expression is increased and Sema3e expression decreased during proliferation in culture, while expression of Sema3a is unaffected by cell density but increases in cultures of mineralizing osteoblasts. Expression of Sema3a, -3e, and -3d is also differentially regulated by osteogenic stimuli; inhibition of GSK3β decreased expression of Sema3a and -3e, while 1,25-(OH)2D3 increased expression of Sema3e. Parathyroid hormone had no effect on expression of Sema3a, -3b, or -3d. Osteoblasts, macrophages, and osteoclasts express the Sema3e receptor PlexinD1, suggesting an autocrine and paracrine role for Sema3e. No effects of recombinant Sema3e on osteoblast proliferation, differentiation, or mineralization were observed; but Sema3e did inhibit the migration of osteoblasts in a wound-healing assay. The formation of multinucleated, tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase–positive osteoclasts was decreased by 81% in cultures of mouse bone marrow macrophages incubated with 200 ng/mL Sema3e. Correspondingly, decreased expression of osteoclast markers (Itgb3, Acp5, Cd51, Nfatc1, CalcR, and Ctsk) was observed by qPCR in macrophage cultures differentiated in the presence of Sema3e. Our results demonstrate that class III semaphorins are expressed by osteoblasts and differentially regulated by differentiation, mineralization, and osteogenic stimuli. Sema3e is a novel inhibitor of osteoclast formation in vitro and may play a role in maintaining local bone homeostasis, potentially acting as a coupling factor between osteoclasts and osteoblasts.
Macrophage; Plexin; Mineralization; Vitamin D3; Migration
The transmembrane semaphorin, Sema6A, has important roles in axon guidance, cell migration and neuronal connectivity in multiple regions of the nervous system, mediated by context-dependent interactions with plexin receptors, PlxnA2 and PlxnA4. Here, we demonstrate that Sema6A can also signal cell-autonomously, in two modes, constitutively, or in response to higher-order clustering mediated by either PlxnA2-binding or chemically induced multimerisation. Sema6A activation stimulates recruitment of Abl to the cytoplasmic domain of Sema6A and phos¡phorylation of this cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase, as well as phosphorylation of additional cytoskeletal regulators. Sema6A reverse signaling affects the surface area and cellular complexity of non-neuronal cells and aggregation and neurite formation of primary neurons in vitro. Sema6A also interacts with PlxnA2 in cis, which reduces binding by PlxnA2 of Sema6A in trans but not vice versa. These experiments reveal the complex nature of Sema6A biochemical functions and the molecular logic of the context-dependent interactions between Sema6A and PlxnA2.
Semaphorin 3 F (Sema3F) is a secreted type of the Semaphorin family of axon guidance molecules. Sema3F and its receptor neuropilin-2 (Npn-2) are expressed in a mutually exclusive manner in the embryonic mouse brain regions including olfactory bulb, hippocampus, and cerebral cortex. Sema3F is thought to have physiological functions in the formation of neuronal circuitry and its refinement. However, functional roles of Sema3F in the brain remain to be clarified. Here, we examined behavioral effects of Sema3F deficiency through a comprehensive behavioral test battery in Sema3F knockout (KO) male mice to understand the possible functions of Sema3F in the brain.
Male Sema3F KO and wild-type (WT) control mice were subjected to a battery of behavioral tests, including neurological screen, rotarod, hot plate, prepulse inhibition, light/dark transition, open field, elevated plus maze, social interaction, Porsolt forced swim, tail suspension, Barnes maze, and fear conditioning tests. In the open field test, Sema3F KO mice traveled shorter distance and spent less time in the center of the field than WT controls during the early testing period. In the light/dark transition test, Sema3F KO mice also exhibited decreased distance traveled, fewer number of transitions, and longer latency to enter the light chamber compared with WT mice. In addition, Sema3F KO mice traveled shorter distance than WT mice in the elevated plus maze test, although there were no differences between genotypes in open arm entries and time spent in open arms. Similarly, Sema3F KO mice showed decreased distance traveled in the social interaction test. Sema3F KO mice displayed reduced immobility in the Porsolt forced swim test whereas there was no difference in immobility between genotypes in the tail suspension test. In the fear conditioning test, Sema3F KO mice exhibited increased freezing behavior when exposed to a conditioning context and an altered context in absence of a conditioned stimulus. In the tests for assessing motor function, pain sensitivity, startle response to an acoustic stimulus, sensorimotor gating, or spatial reference memory, there were no significant behavioral differences between Sema3F KO and WT mice.
These results suggest that Sema3F deficiency induces decreased locomotor activity and possibly abnormal anxiety-related behaviors and also enhances contextual memory and generalized fear in mice. Thus, our findings suggest that Sema3F plays important roles in the development of neuronal circuitry underlying the regulation of some aspects of anxiety and fear responses.
Semaphorin 3 F; Knockout mice; Anxiety; Fear; A behavioral test battery
Semaphorin 5A (mouse, Sema5A; human, SEMA5A), is an axon regulator molecule and plays major roles during neuronal and vascular development. The importance of Sema5A during vasculogenesis, however, is unclear. The fact that Sema5A deficient mice display a defective branching of cranial vasculature supports its participation in blood vessel formation. In this study, we tested our hypothesis that Sema5A regulates angiogenesis by modulating various steps during angiogenesis. Accordingly, we demonstrated that the treatment of immortalized endothelial cells with recombinant extracellular domain of mouse Sema5A significantly increased endothelial cell proliferation and migration and decreased apoptosis. We also observed a relative increase of endothelial expression of anti-apoptotic genes relative to pro-apoptotic genes in Sema5A–treated endothelial cells suggesting its role in inhibition of apoptosis. In addition, our data suggest that Sema5A decreases apoptosis through activation of Akt, increases migration through activating Met tyrosine kinases and extracellular matrix degradation through matrix metalloproteinase 9. Moreover, in vivo Matrigel plug assays demonstrated that Sema5A induces endothelial cell migration from pre-existing vessels. In conclusion, the present work shows the pro-angiogenic role of Sema5A and provides clues on the signaling pathways that underlie them.
Angiogenesis; Endothelial cells; Semaphorin; Sema5A; Matrix metalloproteinase; Migration; Akt phosphorylation; Proliferation; Met receptor
Although originally identified as embryonic axon guidance cues, semaphorins are now known to regulate multiple, distinct, processes crucial for neuronal network formation including axon growth and branching, dendritic morphology, and neuronal migration. Semaphorin7A (Sema7A), the only glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored semaphorin, promotes axon growth in vitro and is required for the proper growth of the mouse lateral olfactory tract in vivo. Sema7A has been postulated to signal through two unrelated receptors, an RGD-dependent α1β1-integrin and a member of the plexin family, plexinC1. β1-integrins underlie Sema7A-mediated axon growth and Sema7A function in the immune system. Sema7A-plexinC1 interactions have also been implicated in immune system function, but the neuronal role of this ligand-receptor pair remains to be explored. To gain further insight into the function(s) of Sema7A and plexinC1 during neural development, we present here a detailed analysis of Sema7A and plexinC1 expression in the developing rat nervous system.
In situ hybridization revealed select expression of Sema7A and plexinC1 in multiple neuronal systems including: the olfactory system, the hypothalamo-hypophysial system, the hippocampus, the meso-diencephalic dopamine system, and the spinal cord. Within these systems, Sema7A and plexinC1 are often expressed in specific neuronal subsets. In general, Sema7A transcript levels increase significantly towards adulthood, whereas plexinC1 expression decreases as development proceeds.
PlexinC1, but not Sema7A, is strongly expressed by distinct populations of migrating neurons. In addition to neuronal expression, Sema7A and plexinC1 transcripts were detected in oligodendrocytes and ependymal cells, respectively.
Sema7A and plexinC1 expression patterns are consistent with these proteins serving both cooperative and separate functions during neural development. The prominent expression of plexinC1 in several distinct populations of migrating neurons suggests a novel role for this plexin family member in neuronal migration.
The vascular and nervous systems have several anatomic and molecular mechanism similarities. Emerging evidence suggests that proteins involved in transmitting axonal guidance cues, including members of class III semaphorin (Sema3) family, play a critical role in blood vessel guidance during physiological and pathological vascular development. Sema3E is a natural antiangiogenic molecule that causes filopodial retraction in endothelial cells, inhibiting cell adhesion by disrupting integrin-mediated adhesive structures. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether in systemic sclerosis (SSc) Plexin-D1/Sema3E axis could be involved in the dysregulation of vascular tone control and angiogenesis.
Sema3E levels were measured by quantitative colorimetric sandwich ELISA in serum samples from 48 SSc patients, 45 subjects with primary Raynaud's phenomenon (pRP) and 48 age-matched and sex-matched healthy controls. Immunofluorescence staining on skin sections from 14 SSc patients and 12 healthy subjects was performed to evaluate Sema3E and Plexin-D1 expression. Western blotting was used to assess Plexin-D1/Sema3E axis in human SSc and healthy dermal microvascular endothelial cells (SSc-MVECs and H-MVECs, respectively) at basal condition and after stimulation with recombinant human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), SSc and healthy sera. Capillary morphogenesis on Matrigel was performed on H-MVECs treated with healthy, pRP or SSc sera in the presence of Sema3E and Plexin-D1 soluble peptides.
Serum Sema3E levels were significantly higher both in pRP subjects and SSc patients than in controls. In SSc, Sema3E levels were significantly increased in patients with early nailfold videocapillaroscopy (NVC) pattern compared to active/late patterns and pRP, and in patients without digital ulcers versus those with ulcers. In SSc skin, Sema3E expression was strongly increased in the microvascular endothelium. Cultured SSc-MVECs showed higher levels of phosphorylated Plexin-D1 and Sema3E expression than H-MVECs, and stimulation with SSc sera increased phosphorylated Plexin-D1 and Sema3E in H-MVECs. The addition of Sema3E-binding Plexin-D1 soluble peptide significantly attenuated the antiangiogenic effect of SSc sera on H-MVECs.
Our findings suggest that Plexin-D1/Sema3E axis is triggered in SSc endothelium and may have a role in the dysregulation of angiogenesis and vascular tone control by inducing neuro-vascular mechanism alterations clinically evident in particular in the early disease phases.
The persistence of myeloid-derived cells in the artery wall is a characteristic of advanced atherosclerotic plaques. However, the mechanisms by which these cells are retained are poorly understood. Semaphorins, a class of neuronal guidance molecules, play a critical role in vascular patterning and development, and recent studies suggest that they may also have immunomodulatory functions. The present study evaluates the expression of Semaphorin 3E (Sema3E) in settings relevant to atherosclerosis and its contribution to macrophage accumulation in plaques.
Approach and Results
Immunofluorescence staining of Sema3E, and its receptor PlexinD1, demonstrated their expression in macrophages of advanced atherosclerotic lesions of Apoe–/– mice. Notably, in two different mouse models of atherosclerosis regression, Sema3E mRNA was highly downregulated in plaque macrophages, coincident with a reduction in plaque macrophage content and an enrichment in markers of reparative M2 macrophages. In vitro, Sema3E mRNA was highly expressed in inflammatory “M1” macrophages, and in macrophages treated with physiological drivers of plaque progression and inflammation, such as oxidized LDL and hypoxia. To explore mechanistically how Sema3E affects macrophage behavior, we treated macrophages with recombinant protein in the presence/absence of chemokines, including CCL19, a chemokine implicated in the egress of macrophages from atherosclerotic plaques. Sema3E blocked actin polymerization and macrophage migration stimulated by the chemokines, suggesting that it may immobilize these cells in the plaque.
Sema3E is up-regulated in macrophages of advanced plaques, is dynamically regulated by multiple atherosclerosis-relevant factors, and acts as a negative regulator of macrophage migration, which may promote macrophage retention and chronic inflammation in vivo.
Atherosclerosis; Semaphorin 3E; macrophage; migration; regression
Semaphorins comprise a family of molecules that influence neuronal growth and guidance. Class-3 semaphorins, semaphorin-3B (SEMA3B) and semaphorin-3F (SEMA3F) illustrate their effects by forming a complex with neuropilins (NP-1 or NP-2) and plexins. We examined the status and regulation of semaphorins and their receptors in human ovarian cancer cells. A significantly reduced expression of SEMA3B (83 kD), SEMA3F (90 kD), and plexin-A3 was observed in ovarian cancer (OVCA) cell lines when compared to normal human ovarian surface epithelial (HOSE) cells. The expression of NP-1, NP-2 and plexin-A1 was not altered in HOSE and OVCA cells. The decreased expression of SEMA3B, SEMA3F, and plexin-A3 was confirmed in stage 3 ovarian tumors. Treatment of OVCA cells with luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and estrogen induced a significant upregulation of SEMA3B, whereas SEMA3F was upregulated only by estrogen. Co-treatment of cell lines with a hormone and its specific antagonist blocked the effect of the hormone. Ectopic expression of SEMA3B or SEMA3F reduced soft-agar colony formation, adhesion, and cell invasion of OVCA cell cultures. Forced expression of SEMA3B, but not SEMA3F, inhibited viability of OVCA cells. Overexpression of SEMA3B and SEMA3F reduced focal adhesion kinase (FAK) phosphorylation and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and -9 expression in OVCA cells. Forced expression of SEMA3F, but not SEMA3B in OVCA cells, significantly inhibited endothelial cell tube formation. Collectively, our results suggest loss of SEMA3 expression could be a hallmark of cancer progression. Furthermore, gonadotropin- and/or estrogen-mediated maintenance of SEMA3 expression could control ovarian cancer angiogenesis and metastasis.
Gonadotropins; estrogens; ovarian surface epithelial cells; cell invasion; angiogenesis
The lymphatic vasculature plays a major role in fluid homeostasis, absorption of dietary lipids, and immune surveillance. Fluid transport depends on the presence of intraluminal valves within lymphatic collectors. Defective formation of lymphatic valves leads to lymphedema, a progressive and debilitating condition for which curative treatments are currently unavailable. How lymphatic valve formation is regulated remains largely unknown.
We investigated if the repulsive axon guidance molecule Semaphorin3A (Sema3A) plays a role in lymphatic valve formation.
Methods and Results
We show that Sema3A mRNA is expressed in lymphatic vessels and that Sema3A protein binds to lymphatic valves expressing the Neuropilin-1 (Nrp1) and PlexinA1 receptors. Using mouse knockout models, we show that Sema3A is selectively required for lymphatic valve formation, via interaction with Nrp1 and PlexinA1. Sema3a−/− mice exhibit defects in lymphatic valve formation, which are not due to abnormal lymphatic patterning or sprouting, and mice carrying a mutation in the Sema3A binding site of Nrp1, or deficient for Plxna1, develop lymphatic valve defects similar to those seen in Sema3a−/− mice.
Our data demonstrate an essential direct function of Sema3A-Nrp1-PlexinA1 signaling in lymphatic valve formation.
valve; guidance; development; lymphatic vessel; vascular biology; vascular smooth muscle
Semaphorin 3A (sema3A) and neuropilin-1 (NP-1) play a regulatory role in immune responses and have a demonstrated effect on the course of collagen induced arthritis. This study was undertaken to evaluate the role of sema3A and NP-1 in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and the specific effect of sema3A on the auto-reactive properties of B cells in SLE patients.
Thirty two SLE and 24 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were assessed and compared with 40 normal individuals. Sema3A serum levels were measured and correlated with SLE disease activity. The in vitro effect of sema3A in reducing Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR-9) expression in B cells of SLE patients was evaluated.
Sema3A serum levels in SLE patients were found to be significantly lower than in RA patients (55.04 ± 16.30 ng/ml versus 65.54 ± 14.82 ng/ml, P = 0.018) and lower yet than in normal individuals (55.04 ± 16.30 ng/ml versus 74.41 ± 17.60 ng/ml, P < 0.0001). Altered serum sema3A levels were found to be in inverse correlation with SLE disease activity, mainly with renal damage. The expression of both sema3A and NP-1 on B cells from SLE patients was significantly different in comparison with normal healthy individuals. Finally, when sema3A was co-cultured with cytosine-phosphodiester-guanine oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG-ODN)-stimulated B cells of SLE patients, their TLR-9 expression was significantly reduced, by almost 50% (P = 0.001).
This is the first study in which a reduced serum level of sema3A was found in association with SLE disease activity. It also raises the possibility that sema3A may have a regulatory function in SLE.
SEMA3F is a secreted semaphorin with potent antitumor activity, which is frequently downregulated in lung cancer. In cancer cell lines, SEMA3F overexpression decreases hypoxia-induced factor 1α protein and vascular endothelial growth factor mRNA, and inhibits multiple signaling components. Therefore, understanding how SEMA3F expression is inhibited in cancer cells is important. We previously defined the promoter organization of SEMA3F and found that chromatin remodeling by a histone deacetylase inhibitor was sufficient to activate SEMA3F expression. In lung cancer, we have also shown that ZEB-1, an E-box transcription repressor, is predominantly responsible for loss of E-Cadherin associated with a poor prognosis and resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors. In the present study, we demonstrated that ZEB-1 also inhibits SEMA3F in lung cancer cells. Levels of ZEB-1, but not ZEB-2, Snail or Slug, significantly correlate with SEMA3F inhibition, and overexpression or inhibition of ZEB-1 correspondingly affected SEMA3F expression. Four conserved E-box sites were identified in the SEMA3F gene. Direct ZEB-1 binding was confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation assays for two of these, and ZEB-1 binding was reduced when cells were treated with a histone deacetylase inhibitor. These results demonstrate that ZEB-1 directly inhibits SEMA3F expression in lung cancer cells. SEMA3F loss was associated with changes in cell signaling: increased phospho-AKT in normoxia and increase of hypoxia-induced factor 1α protein in hypoxia. Moreover, exogenous addition of SEMA3F could modulate ZEB-1-induced angiogenesis in a chorioallantoic membrane assay. Together, these data provide further support for the importance of SEMA3F and ZEB-1 in lung cancer progression.
Rationale: Lymphocytes are increasingly associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Semaphorin 7a (Sema 7a) participates in lymphocyte activation.
Objectives: To define the relationship between Sema 7a and lymphocytes in IPF.
Methods: We characterized the significance of Sema 7a+ lymphocytes in humans with IPF and in a mouse model of lung fibrosis caused by lung-targeted, transgenic overexpression of TGF-β1. We determined the site of Sema 7a expression in human and murine lungs and circulation and used adoptive transfer approaches to define the relevance of lymphocytes coexpressing Sema7a and the markers CD19, CD4, or CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ in TGF-β1–induced murine lung fibrosis.
Measurements and Main Results: Subjects with IPF show expression of Sema 7a on lung CD4+ cells and circulating CD4+ or CD19+ cells. Sema 7a expression is increased on CD4+ cells and CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells, but not CD19+ cells, in subjects with progressive IPF. Sema 7a is expressed on lymphocytes expressing CD4 but not CD19 in the lungs and spleen of TGF-β1–transgenic mice. Sema 7a expressing bone marrow–derived cells induce lung fibrosis and alter the production of T-cell mediators, including IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-17A, and IL-10. These effects require CD4 but not CD19. In comparison to Sema 7a-CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ cells, Sema7a+CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ cells exhibit reduced expression of regulatory genes such as IL-10, and adoptive transfer of these cells induces fibrosis and remodeling in the TGF-β1–exposed murine lung.
Conclusions: Sema 7a+CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells are associated with disease progression in subjects with IPF and induce fibrosis in the TGF-β1–exposed murine lung.
Semaphorin; lung; fibrosis; TGF-β1; regulatory T cells
Semaphorin 3A (Sema3A) is a neural guidance cue that also mediates cell migration, proliferation and apoptosis, and inhibits branching morphogenesis. Because we have shown that genetic deletion of neuropilin-1, which encodes an obligatory Sema3A co-receptor, influences airspace remodeling in the smoke-exposed adult lung, we sought to determine whether genetic deletion of Sema3A altered distal lung structure.
To determine whether loss of Sema3A signaling influenced distal lung morphology, we compared pulmonary histology, distal epithelial cell morphology and maturation, and the balance between lung cell proliferation and death, in lungs from mice with a targeted genetic deletion of Sema3A (Sema3A-/-) and wild-type (Sema3A+/+) littermate controls.
Genetic deletion of Sema3A resulted in significant perinatal lethality. At E17.5, lungs from Sema3A-/- mice had thickened septae and reduced airspace size. Distal lung epithelial cells had increased intracellular glycogen pools and small multivesicular and lamellar bodies with atypical ultrastructure, as well as reduced expression of type I alveolar epithelial cell markers. Alveolarization was markedly attenuated in lungs from the rare Sema3A-/- mice that survived the immediate perinatal period. Furthermore, Sema3A deletion was linked with enhanced postnatal alveolar septal cell death.
These data suggest that Sema3A modulates distal pulmonary epithelial cell development and alveolar septation. Defining how Sema3A influences structural plasticity of the developing lung is a critical first step for determining if this pathway can be exploited to develop innovative strategies for repair after acute or chronic lung injury.
Semaphorins (SEMAs) consist of a large family of secreted and membrane-anchored proteins that are important in neuronal pathfinding and axon guidance in selected areas of the developing nervous system. Of them, SEMA7A has been reported to have a chemotactic activity in neurogenesis and to be an immunomodulator; however, little is known about the relevance of SEMA7A in the behaviors of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).
We evaluated SEMA7A expression in OSCC-derived cell lines and primary OSCC samples using quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, immunoblotting, and semiquantitative immunohistochemistry (sq-IHC). In addition, SEMA7A knockdown cells (shSEMA7A cells) were used for functional experiments, including cellular proliferation, invasiveness, and migration assays. We also analyzed the clinical correlation between SEMA7A status and clinical behaviors in patients with OSCC.
SEMA7A mRNA and protein were up-regulated significantly (P<0.05) in OSCC-derived cell lines compared with human normal oral keratinocytes. The shSEMA7A cells showed decreased cellular growth by cell-cycle arrest at the G1 phase, resulting from up-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (p21Cip1 and p27Kip1) and down-regulation of cyclins (cyclin D1, cyclin E) and cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK2, CDK4, and CDK6); and decreased invasiveness and migration activities by reduced secretion of matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) (MMP-2, proMMP-2, pro-MMP-9), and expression of membrane type 1- MMP (MT1-MMP). We also found inactivation of the extracellular regulated kinase 1/2 and AKT pathways, an upstream molecule of cell-cycle arrest at the G1 phase, and reduced secretion of MMPs in shSEMA7A cells. sq-IHC showed that SEMA7A expression in the primary OSCCs was significantly (P = 0.001) greater than that in normal counterparts and was correlated with primary tumoral size (P = 0.0254) and regional lymph node metastasis (P = 0.0002).
Our data provide evidence for an essential role of SEMA7A in tumoral growth and metastasis in OSCC and indicated that SEMA7A may play a potential diagnostic/therapeutic target for use in patients with OSCC.
Semaphorin 4D (SEMA4D) is a member of a family of transmembrane and secreted proteins that have been shown to act through its receptor Plexin-B1 to regulate axon growth cone guidance, lymphocyte activation, and bone density. SEMA4D is also overexpressed by some malignancies and plays a role in tumor-induced angiogenesis similar to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein that has been targeted as part of some cancer therapies. In an attempt to examine the different effects on tumor growth and vascularity for these two pro-angiogenic factors, we previously noted that while inhibition of both VEGF and SEMA4D restricted tumor vascularity and size, vessels forming under conditions of VEGF blockade retained their association with pericytes while those arising in a background of SEMA4D/ Plexin-B1 deficiency did not, an intriguing finding considering that alteration in pericyte association with endothelial cells is an emerging aspect of anti-angiogenic intervention in the treatment of cancer. Here we show through array analysis, immunoblots, migration and co-culture assays and VE-cadherin immunohistochemistry that SEMA4D production by head and neck carcinoma tumor cells induces expression of platelet-derived growth factor-B (PDGF-B) and angiopoietin-like protein 4 (ANGPTL4) from endothelial cells in a Plexin-B1/ Rho-dependent manner, thereby influencing proliferation and differentiation of pericytes and vascular permeability, whereas VEGF lacks these effects. These results partly explain the differences observed between SEMA4D and VEGF in pathological angiogenesis and suggest that targeting SEMA4D function along with VEGF could represent a novel anti-angiogenic therapeutic strategy for the treatment of solid tumors.
Semaphorin 4D; Plexin-B1; RhoA; Platelet-derived growth factor-B; Angiopoietin-like protein 4; Angiogenesis