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1.  Endothelin‐1 Drives Epithelial‐Mesenchymal Transition in Hypertensive Nephroangiosclerosis 
Tubulointerstitial fibrosis, the final outcome of most kidney diseases, involves activation of epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). Endothelin‐1 (ET‐1) activates EMT in cancer cells, but it is not known whether it drives EMT in the kidney. We therefore tested the hypothesis that tubulointerstitial fibrosis involves EMT driven by ET‐1.
Methods and Results
Transgenic TG[mRen2]27 (TGRen2) rats developing fulminant angiotensin II–dependent hypertension with prominent cardiovascular and renal damage were submitted to drug treatments targeted to ET‐1 and/or angiotensin II receptor or left untreated (controls). Expressional changes of E‐cadherin and α‐smooth muscle actin (αSMA) were examined as markers of renal EMT. In human kidney HK‐2 proximal tubular cells expressing the ETB receptor subtype, the effects of ET‐1 with or without ET‐1 antagonists were also investigated. The occurrence of renal fibrosis was associated with EMT in control TGRen2 rats, as evidenced by decreased E‐cadherin and increased αSMA expression. Irbesartan and the mixed ET‐1 receptor antagonist bosentan prevented these changes in a blood pressure–independent fashion (P < 0.001 for both versus controls). In HK‐2 cells ET‐1 blunted E‐cadherin expression, increased αSMA expression (both P < 0.01), collagen synthesis, and metalloproteinase activity (P < 0.005, all versus untreated cells). All changes were prevented by the selective ETB receptor antagonist BQ‐788. Evidence for involvement of the Rho‐kinase signaling pathway and dephosphorylation of Yes‐associated protein in EMT was also found.
In angiotensin II–dependent hypertension, ET‐1 acting via ETB receptors and the Rho‐kinase and Yes‐associated protein induces EMT and thereby renal fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC5015413  PMID: 27444511
endothelin‐1; epithelial to mesenchymal transition; fibrosis; hypertension; kidney; Fibrosis; Nephrology and Kidney; High Blood Pressure
2.  ALMS1-Deficient Fibroblasts Over-Express Extra-Cellular Matrix Components, Display Cell Cycle Delay and Are Resistant to Apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19081.
Alström Syndrome (ALMS) is a rare genetic disorder (483 living cases), characterized by many clinical manifestations, including blindness, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiomyopathy. ALMS is caused by mutations in the ALMS1 gene, encoding for a large protein with implicated roles in ciliary function, cellular quiescence and intracellular transport. Patients with ALMS have extensive fibrosis in nearly all tissues resulting in a progressive organ failure which is often the ultimate cause of death. To focus on the role of ALMS1 mutations in the generation and maintenance of this pathological fibrosis, we performed gene expression analysis, ultrastructural characterization and functional assays in 4 dermal fibroblast cultures from ALMS patients. Using a genome-wide gene expression analysis we found alterations in genes belonging to specific categories (cell cycle, extracellular matrix (ECM) and fibrosis, cellular architecture/motility and apoptosis). ALMS fibroblasts display cytoskeleton abnormalities and migration impairment, up-regulate the expression and production of collagens and despite the increase in the cell cycle length are more resistant to apoptosis. Therefore ALMS1-deficient fibroblasts showed a constitutively activated myofibroblast phenotype even if they do not derive from a fibrotic lesion. Our results support a genetic basis for the fibrosis observed in ALMS and show that both an excessive ECM production and a failure to eliminate myofibroblasts are key mechanisms. Furthermore, our findings suggest new roles for ALMS1 in both intra- and extra-cellular events which are essential not only for the normal cellular function but also for cell-cell and ECM-cell interactions.
PMCID: PMC3082548  PMID: 21541333

Results 1-2 (2)