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1.  M2-like macrophages are responsible for collagen degradation through a mannose receptor–mediated pathway 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;202(6):951-966.
Mannose receptor–mediated uptake of collagen by M2-like macrophages is a major mechanism of collagen turnover in mice.
Tissue remodeling processes critically depend on the timely removal and remodeling of preexisting collagen scaffolds. Nevertheless, many aspects related to the turnover of this abundant extracellular matrix component in vivo are still incompletely understood. We therefore took advantage of recent advances in optical imaging to develop an assay to visualize collagen turnover in situ and identify cell types and molecules involved in this process. Collagen introduced into the dermis of mice underwent cellular endocytosis in a partially matrix metalloproteinase–dependent manner and was subsequently routed to lysosomes for complete degradation. Collagen uptake was predominantly executed by a quantitatively minor population of M2-like macrophages, whereas more abundant Col1a1-expressing fibroblasts and Cx3cr1-expressing macrophages internalized collagen at lower levels. Genetic ablation of the collagen receptors mannose receptor (Mrc1) and urokinase plasminogen activator receptor–associated protein (Endo180 and Mrc2) impaired this intracellular collagen degradation pathway. This study demonstrates the importance of receptor-mediated cellular uptake to collagen turnover in vivo and identifies a key role of M2-like macrophages in this process.
doi:10.1083/jcb.201301081
PMCID: PMC3776354  PMID: 24019537
2.  Loss of miR-10a Activates Lpo and Collaborates with Activated Wnt Signaling in Inducing Intestinal Neoplasia in Female Mice 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003913.
miRNAs are small regulatory RNAs that, due to their considerable potential to target a wide range of mRNAs, are implicated in essentially all biological process, including cancer. miR-10a is particularly interesting considering its conserved location in the Hox cluster of developmental regulators. A role for this microRNA has been described in developmental regulation as well as for various cancers. However, previous miR-10a studies are exclusively based on transient knockdowns of this miRNA and to extensively study miR-10a loss we have generated a miR-10a knock out mouse. Here we show that, in the Apcmin mouse model of intestinal neoplasia, female miR-10a deficient mice develop significantly more adenomas than miR-10+/+ and male controls. We further found that Lpo is extensively upregulated in the intestinal epithelium of mice deprived of miR-10a. Using in vitro assays, we demonstrate that the primary miR-10a target KLF4 can upregulate transcription of Lpo, whereas siRNA knockdown of KLF4 reduces LPO levels in HCT-116 cells. Furthermore, Klf4 is upregulated in the intestines of miR-10a knockout mice. Lpo has previously been shown to have the capacity to oxidize estrogens into potent depurinating mutagens, creating an instable genomic environment that can cause initiation of cancer. Therefore, we postulate that Lpo upregulation in the intestinal epithelium of miR-10a deficient mice together with the predominant abundance of estrogens in female animals mainly accounts for the sex-related cancer phenotype we observed. This suggests that miR-10a could be used as a potent diagnostic marker for discovering groups of women that are at high risk of developing colorectal carcinoma, which today is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths.
Author Summary
Posttranscriptional regulation by microRNA molecules constitutes an important mechanism for gene regulation and numerous studies have demonstrated a correlation between deregulated microRNA levels and diseases, such as cancer. However, genetics studies linking individual microRNAs to the etiology of cancer remain scarce. Here, we provide causal evidence for the involvement of the conserved microRNA miR-10a in the development of intestinal adenomas in the face of activated Wnt signaling. Interestingly, we find that loss of miR-10a mediates an increase in intestinal adenomas in female mice only and delineate the pathway to involve aberrant upregulation of the miR-10a target Klf4 and subsequent transcriptional activation of the Lpo gene encoding the antibacterial protein Lactoperoxidase. Lpo, in turn, has previously been demonstrated to oxidize estrogens into DNA-damaging mutagens.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003913
PMCID: PMC3812087  PMID: 24204315
3.  Inhibitory Monoclonal Antibodies against Mouse Proteases Raised in Gene-Deficient Mice Block Proteolytic Functions in vivo 
Identification of targets for cancer therapy requires the understanding of the in vivo roles of proteins, which can be derived from studies using gene-targeted mice. An alternative strategy is the administration of inhibitory monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), causing acute disruption of the target protein function(s). This approach has the advantage of being a model for therapeutic targeting. mAbs for use in mouse models can be obtained through immunization of gene-deficient mice with the autologous protein. Such mAbs react with both species-specific epitopes and epitopes conserved between species. mAbs against proteins involved in extracellular proteolysis, including plasminogen activators urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA), their inhibitor PAI-1, the uPA receptor (uPAR), two matrix metalloproteinases (MMP9 and MMP14), as well as the collagen internalization receptor uPARAP, have been developed. The inhibitory mAbs against uPA and uPAR block plasminogen activation and thereby hepatic fibrinolysis in vivo. Wound healing, another plasmin-dependent process, is delayed by an inhibitory mAb against uPA in the adult mouse. Thromboembolism can be inhibited by anti-PAI-1 mAbs in vivo. In conclusion, function-blocking mAbs are well-suited for targeted therapy in mouse models of different diseases, including cancer.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2012.00122
PMCID: PMC3384954  PMID: 22754528
mouse monoclonal antibodies; extracellular proteolysis; collagen internalization; in vivo models; plasminogen activation
4.  Mesenchymal cells reactivate Snail1 expression to drive three-dimensional invasion programs 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;184(3):399-408.
Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is required for mesodermal differentiation during development. The zinc-finger transcription factor, Snail1, can trigger EMT and is sufficient to transcriptionally reprogram epithelial cells toward a mesenchymal phenotype during neoplasia and fibrosis. Whether Snail1 also regulates the behavior of terminally differentiated mesenchymal cells remains unexplored. Using a Snai1 conditional knockout model, we now identify Snail1 as a regulator of normal mesenchymal cell function. Snail1 expression in normal fibroblasts can be induced by agonists known to promote proliferation and invasion in vivo. When challenged within a tissue-like, three-dimensional extracellular matrix, Snail1-deficient fibroblasts exhibit global alterations in gene expression, which include defects in membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP)-dependent invasive activity. Snail1-deficient fibroblasts explanted atop the live chick chorioallantoic membrane lack tissue-invasive potential and fail to induce angiogenesis. These findings establish key functions for the EMT regulator Snail1 after terminal differentiation of mesenchymal cells.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200810113
PMCID: PMC2646556  PMID: 19188491
5.  Complementary Roles of Intracellular and Pericellular Collagen Degradation Pathways In Vivo▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(18):6309-6322.
Collagen degradation is essential for cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation. Two key turnover pathways have been described for collagen: intracellular cathepsin-mediated degradation and pericellular collagenase-mediated degradation. However, the functional relationship between these two pathways is unclear and even controversial. Here we show that intracellular and pericellular collagen turnover pathways have complementary roles in vivo. Individual deficits in intracellular collagen degradation (urokinase plasminogen activator receptor-associated protein/Endo180 ablation) or pericellular collagen degradation (membrane type 1-matrix metalloproteinase ablation) were compatible with development and survival. Their combined deficits, however, synergized to cause postnatal death by severely impairing bone formation. Interestingly, this was mechanistically linked to the proliferative failure and poor survival of cartilage- and bone-forming cells within their collagen-rich microenvironment. These findings have important implications for the use of pharmacological inhibitors of collagenase activity to prevent connective tissue destruction in a variety of diseases.
doi:10.1128/MCB.00291-07
PMCID: PMC2099620  PMID: 17620416
6.  Intracellular collagen degradation mediated by uPARAP/Endo180 is a major pathway of extracellular matrix turnover during malignancy 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;169(6):977-985.
We recently reported that uPARAP/Endo180 can mediate the cellular uptake and lysosomal degradation of collagen by cultured fibroblasts. Here, we show that uPARAP/Endo180 has a key role in the degradation of collagen during mammary carcinoma progression. In the normal murine mammary gland, uPARAP/Endo180 is widely expressed in periductal fibroblast-like mesenchymal cells that line mammary epithelial cells. This pattern of uPARAP/Endo180 expression is preserved during polyomavirus middle T–induced mammary carcinogenesis, with strong uPARAP/Endo180 expression by mesenchymal cells embedded within the collagenous stroma surrounding nests of uPARAP/Endo180-negative tumor cells. Genetic ablation of uPARAP/Endo180 impaired collagen turnover that is critical to tumor expansion, as evidenced by the abrogation of cellular collagen uptake, tumor fibrosis, and blunted tumor growth. These studies identify uPARAP/Endo180 as a key mediator of collagen turnover in a pathophysiological context.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200411153
PMCID: PMC2171632  PMID: 15967816
7.  uPARAP/Endo180 is essential for cellular uptake of collagen and promotes fibroblast collagen adhesion 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;160(7):1009-1015.
The uptake and lysosomal degradation of collagen by fibroblasts constitute a major pathway in the turnover of connective tissue. However, the molecular mechanisms governing this pathway are poorly understood. Here, we show that the urokinase plasminogen activator receptor–associated protein (uPARAP)/Endo180, a novel mesenchymally expressed member of the macrophage mannose receptor family of endocytic receptors, is a key player in this process. Fibroblasts from mice with a targeted deletion in the uPARAP/Endo180 gene displayed a near to complete abrogation of collagen endocytosis. Furthermore, these cells had diminished initial adhesion to a range of different collagens, as well as impaired migration on fibrillar collagen. These studies identify a central function of uPARAP/Endo180 in cellular collagen interactions.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200211091
PMCID: PMC2172772  PMID: 12668656
cell adhesion; integrin; matrix internalization; matrix metalloproteinase; uPAR
8.  Differential Actions of the Endocytic Collagen Receptor uPARAP/Endo180 and the Collagenase MMP-2 in Bone Homeostasis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71261.
A well-coordinated remodeling of uncalcified collagen matrices is a pre-requisite for bone development and homeostasis. Collagen turnover proceeds through different pathways, either involving extracellular reactions exclusively, or being dependent on endocytic processes. Extracellular collagen degradation requires the action of secreted or membrane attached collagenolytic proteases, whereas the alternative collagen degradation pathway proceeds intracellularly after receptor-mediated uptake and delivery to the lysosomes. In this study we have examined the functional interplay between the extracellular collagenase, MMP-2, and the endocytic collagen receptor, uPARAP, by generating mice with combined deficiency of both components. In both uPARAP-deficient and MMP-2-deficient adult mice the length of the tibia and femur was decreased, along with a reduced bone mineral density and trabecular bone quality. An additional decrease in bone length was observed when combining the two deficiencies, pointing to both components being important for the remodeling processes in long bone growth. In agreement with results found by others, a different effect of MMP-2 deficiency was observed in the distinct bone structures of the calvaria. These membranous bones were found to be thickened in MMP-2-deficient mice, an effect likely to be related to an accompanying defect in the canalicular system. Surprisingly, both of the latter defects in MMP-2-deficient mice were counteracted by concurrent uPARAP deficiency, demonstrating that the collagen receptor does not support the same matrix remodeling processes as the MMP in the growth of the skull. We conclude that both uPARAP and MMP-2 take part in matrix turnover processes important for bone growth. However, in some physiological situations, these two components do not support the same step in the growth process.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071261
PMCID: PMC3734290  PMID: 23940733
9.  No Effect of NGAL/lipocalin-2 on Aggressiveness of Cancer in the MMTV-PyMT/FVB/N Mouse Model for Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39646.
NGAL/lipocalin-2 is a siderophore-binding protein that is highly expressed in several cancers. It is suggested to confer a proliferative advantage to cancer cells. Its expression has been correlated with aggressiveness of breast cancer as determined both in patients and in mouse breast cancer models. This was recently confirmed in two mouse models of spontaneous breast cancer in wild-type and lipocalin-2-deficient mice. We used a similar strategy using a different mouse strain. Lipocalin-2-deficient mice and mouse mammary tumor virus-polyoma middle T antigen (MMTV-PyMT) mice were crossed into the same FVB/N background. All mice developed tumors by week 8. The mice were sacrificed on week 13 and tissue was processed for biochemical and histological analysis. The total tumor volume and number of metastases were quantitated in 26 lipocalin-2-deficient mice and 34 wild-type controls. Lipocalin-2 expression in tumors of MMTV-PyMT-positive and wild-type mice was assessed by quantitative real-time PCR and by immunohistochemistry. The expression of the lipocalin-2 receptors 24p3R and megalin and of Mmp-9, transferrin receptor, and Bdh2 (a producer of a mammalian siderophore) were quantitated by real-time PCR. No significant difference was observed between wild-type and lipocalin-2-deficient mice. Lipocalin-2 was highly expressed in tumors from wild-type mice, but the expression did not correlate with tumor size. No effect of lipocalin-2 was observed with respect to time to tumor appearance, total tumor volume, or to the number of metastases. Histology and gelatinolytic activity of the mammary tumors did not differ between wild-type and lipocalin-2-deficient mice. We conclude that NGAL/lipocalin-2 does not invariably affect the aggressiveness of breast cancers as assessed in mouse models, thus questioning the role of lipocalin-2 in cancer development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039646
PMCID: PMC3380857  PMID: 22737251

Results 1-9 (9)