Targeted disruption of core binding factor α1 (Cbfa1) showed that Cbfa1 is an essential transcription factor in osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. Furthermore, both in vitro and in vivo studies showed that Cbfa1 plays important roles in matrix production and mineralization. However, it remains to be clarified how Cbfa1 controls osteoblast differentiation, bone formation, and bone remodelling. To understand fully the physiological functions of Cbfa1, we generated transgenic mice that overexpressed Cbfa1 in osteoblasts using type I collagen promoter. Unexpectedly, Cbfa1 transgenic mice showed osteopenia with multiple fractures. Cortical bone, which was thin, porous, and enriched with osteopontin, was invaded by osteoclasts, despite the absence of acceleration of osteoclastogenesis. Although the number of neonatal osteoblasts was increased, their function was impaired in matrix production and mineralization. Furthermore, terminally differentiated osteoblasts, which strongly express osteocalcin, and osteocytes were diminished greatly, whereas less mature osteoblasts expressing osteopontin accumulated in adult bone. These data indicate that immature organization of cortical bone, which was caused by the maturational blockage of osteoblasts, led to osteopenia and fragility in transgenic mice, demonstrating that Cbfa1 inhibits osteoblast differentiation at a late stage.
Cbfa1; osteoblast; osteocyte; transgenic mice; osteopenia
In contrast to the situation in mammalian oocytes, the metaphase-to-anaphase transition in frog oocytes is not regulated by a spindle assembly checkpoint.
The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) functions as a surveillance mechanism to detect chromosome misalignment and to delay anaphase until the errors are corrected. The SAC is thought to control mitosis and meiosis, including meiosis in mammalian eggs. However, it remains unknown if meiosis in the eggs of nonmammalian vertebrate species is also regulated by SAC. Using a novel karyotyping technique, we demonstrate that complete disruption of spindle microtubules in Xenopus laevis oocytes did not affect the bivalent-to-dyad transition at the time oocytes are undergoing anaphase I. These oocytes also acquired the ability to respond to parthenogenetic activation, which indicates proper metaphase II arrest. Similarly, oocytes exhibiting monopolar spindles, via inhibition of aurora B or Eg5 kinesin, underwent monopolar anaphase on time and without additional intervention. Therefore, the metaphase-to-anaphase transition in frog oocytes is not regulated by SAC.
CUL4B up-regulates CDK2 by repressing miR-372 and miR-373, leading to increased phosphorylation and stabilization of CDC6, thus promoting replication licensing.
Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs) participate in the regulation of diverse cellular processes including cell cycle progression. Mutations in the X-linked CUL4B, a member of the cullin family, cause mental retardation and other developmental abnormalities in humans. Cells that are deficient in CUL4B are severely selected against in vivo in heterozygotes. Here we report a role of CUL4B in the regulation of replication licensing. Strikingly, CDC6, the licensing factor in replication, was positively regulated by CUL4B and contributed to the loading of MCM2 to chromatin. The positive regulation of CDC6 by CUL4B depends on CDK2, which phosphorylates CDC6, protecting it from APCCDH1-mediated degradation. Thus, aside being required for cell cycle reentry from quiescence, CDK2 also contributes to pre-replication complex assembly in G1 phase of cycling cells. Interestingly, the up-regulation of CDK2 by CUL4B is achieved via the repression of miR-372 and miR-373, which target CDK2. Our findings thus establish a CUL4B–CDK2–CDC6 cascade in the regulation of DNA replication licensing.
VEGF causes translocation of Syx from endothelial cell junctions, promoting junction disassembly, whereas Angtiopoietin-1 maintains Syx at the junctions and stabilizes them.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and Ang1 (Angiopoietin-1) have opposing effects on vascular permeability, but the molecular basis of these effects is not fully known. We report in this paper that VEGF and Ang1 regulate endothelial cell (EC) junctions by determining the localization of the RhoA-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor Syx. Syx was recruited to junctions by members of the Crumbs polarity complex and promoted junction integrity by activating Diaphanous. VEGF caused translocation of Syx from cell junctions, promoting junction disassembly, whereas Ang1 maintained Syx at the junctions, inducing junction stabilization. The VEGF-induced translocation of Syx from EC junctions was caused by PKD1 (protein kinase D1)-mediated phosphorylation of Syx at Ser806, which reduced Syx association to its junctional anchors. In support of the pivotal role of Syx in regulating EC junctions, syx−/− mice had defective junctions, resulting in vascular leakiness, edema, and impaired heart function.
IP3RII-induced calcium release decreases miR-133a expression, which further increases IP3RII levels and calcium release and thereby promotes hypertrophic heart remodeling.
Inositol 1,4,5′-triphosphate receptor II (IP3RII) calcium channel expression is increased in both hypertrophic failing human myocardium and experimentally induced models of the disease. The ectopic calcium released from these receptors induces pro-hypertrophic gene expression and may promote arrhythmias. Here, we show that IP3RII expression was constitutively restrained by the muscle-specific miRNA, miR-133a. During the hypertrophic response to pressure overload or neurohormonal stimuli, miR-133a down-regulation permitted IP3RII levels to increase, instigating pro-hypertrophic calcium signaling and concomitant pathological remodeling. Using a combination of in vivo and in vitro approaches, we demonstrated that IP3-induced calcium release (IICR) initiated the hypertrophy-associated decrease in miR-133a. In this manner, hypertrophic stimuli that engage IICR set a feed-forward mechanism in motion whereby IICR decreased miR-133a expression, further augmenting IP3RII levels and therefore pro-hypertrophic calcium release. Consequently, IICR can be considered as both an initiating event and a driving force for pathological remodeling.
The structure of the complex of CCM1/KRIT1 and HEG1 defines a new mode of membrane protein anchorage important for cell–cell junctions and cardiovascular development.
The products of genes that cause cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM1/KRIT1, CCM2, and CCM3) physically interact. CCM1/KRIT1 links this complex to endothelial cell (EC) junctions and maintains junctional integrity in part by inhibiting RhoA. Heart of glass (HEG1), a transmembrane protein, associates with KRIT1. In this paper, we show that the KRIT1 band 4.1, ezrin, radixin, and moesin (FERM) domain bound the HEG1 C terminus (Kd = 1.2 µM) and solved the structure of this assembly. The KRIT1 F1 and F3 subdomain interface formed a hydrophobic groove that binds HEG1(Tyr1,380-Phe1,381), thus defining a new mode of FERM domain–membrane protein interaction. This structure enabled design of KRIT1(L717,721A), which exhibited a >100-fold reduction in HEG1 affinity. Although well folded and expressed, KRIT1(L717,721A) failed to target to EC junctions or complement the effects of KRIT1 depletion on zebrafish cardiovascular development or Rho kinase activation in EC. These data establish that this novel FERM–membrane protein interaction anchors CCM1/KRIT1 at EC junctions to support cardiovascular development.
Localization of the miRNA-induced silencing complex to GW/P bodies by GW220/TNGW1
may regulate the fate of target mRNAs.
The microRNA (miRNA)-induced silencing complex (miRISC) controls gene expression
by a posttranscriptional mechanism involving translational repression and/or
promoting messenger RNA (mRNA) deadenylation and degradation. The GW182/TNRC6
(GW) family proteins are core components of the miRISC and are essential for
miRNA function. We show that mammalian GW proteins have distinctive functions in
the miRNA pathway, with GW220/TNGW1 being essential for the formation of GW/P
bodies containing the miRISC. miRISC aggregation and formation of GW/P bodies
sequestered and stabilized translationally repressed target mRNA. Depletion of
GW220 led to the loss of GW/P bodies and destabilization of miRNA-targeted mRNA.
These findings support a model in which the cellular localization of the miRISC
regulates the fate of the target mRNA.
Plk1 dynamics at kinetochores control two critical mitotic processes: initially
establishing correct kinetochore–microtubule attachments and subsequently
silencing the spindle checkpoint.
Polo-like kinase-1 (Plk1) is a highly conserved kinase with multiple mitotic
functions. Plk1 localizes to prometaphase kinetochores and is reduced at
metaphase kinetochores, similar to many checkpoint signaling proteins, but Plk1
is not required for spindle checkpoint function. Plk1 is also implicated in
stabilizing kinetochore–microtubule attachments, but these attachments
are most stable when kinetochore Plk1 levels are low at metaphase. Therefore, it
is unclear how Plk1 function at kinetochores can be understood in the context of
its dynamic localization. In this paper, we show that Plk1 activity suppresses
kinetochore–microtubule dynamics to stabilize initial attachments in
prometaphase, and Plk1 removal from kinetochores is necessary to maintain
dynamic microtubules in metaphase. Constitutively targeting Plk1 to kinetochores
maintained high activity at metaphase, leading to reduced interkinetochore
tension and intrakinetochore stretch, a checkpoint-dependent mitotic arrest, and
accumulation of microtubule attachment errors. Together, our data show that Plk1
dynamics at kinetochores control two critical mitotic processes: initially
establishing correct kinetochore–microtubule attachments and subsequently
silencing the spindle checkpoint.
Expression of a kinase-deficient ATM protein leads to severe genomic instability and embryonic lethality.
Ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) mutated (ATM) kinase orchestrates deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) damage responses by phosphorylating numerous substrates implicated in DNA repair and cell cycle checkpoint activation. A-T patients and mouse models that express no ATM protein undergo normal embryonic development but exhibit pleiotropic DNA repair defects. In this paper, we report that mice carrying homozygous kinase-dead mutations in Atm (AtmKD/KD) died during early embryonic development. AtmKD/− cells exhibited proliferation defects and genomic instability, especially chromatid breaks, at levels higher than Atm−/− cells. Despite this increased genomic instability, AtmKD/− lymphocytes progressed through variable, diversity, and joining recombination and immunoglobulin class switch recombination, two events requiring nonhomologous end joining, at levels comparable to Atm−/− lymphocytes. Together, these results reveal an essential function of ATM during embryogenesis and an important function of catalytically inactive ATM protein in DNA repair.
Apoptosis during epithelial lumen formation is mediated by hypoxia-induced expression of the proapoptotic protein Bnip3, which is promoted by AIF-mediated reactive oxygen species production and HIF-2α stabilization.
Apoptosis is an essential step in cavitation during embryonic epithelial morphogenesis, but its mechanisms are largely unknown. In this paper, we used embryonic stem cell–differentiated embryoid bodies (EBs) as a model and found that Bnip3 (Bcl-2/adenovirus E1B 19-kD interacting protein), a BH3-only proapoptotic protein, was highly up-regulated during cavitation in a hypoxia-dependent manner. Short hairpin RNA silencing of Bnip3 inhibited apoptosis of the core cells and delayed cavitation. We show that the Bnip3 up-regulation was mediated mainly by hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)–2. Ablation of HIF-2α or HIF-1β, the common β subunit of HIF-1 and -2, suppressed Bnip3 up-regulation and inhibited apoptosis and cavitation. We further show that apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) cooperated with Bnip3 to promote lumen clearance. Bnip3 silencing in AIF-null EBs nearly blocked apoptosis and cavitation. Moreover, AIF also regulated Bnip3 expression through mitochondrial production of reactive oxygen species and consequent HIF-2α stabilization. These results uncover a mechanism of cavitation through hypoxia-induced apoptosis of the core cells mediated by HIFs, Bnip3, and AIF.
Relative to vinculin, a unique 68-residue insert in the C-terminal tail of metavinculin results in a loss of actin filament-bundling activity but gain of actin filament-severing activity.
Vinculin and its splice variant, metavinculin (MV), are key elements of multiple protein assemblies linking the extracellular matrix to the actin cytoskeleton. Vinculin is expressed ubiquitously, whereas MV is mainly expressed in smooth and cardiac muscle tissue. The only difference in amino acid sequence between the isoforms is a 68-residue insert in the C-terminal tail domain of MV (MVt). Although the functional role of this insert remains elusive, its importance is exemplified by point mutations that are associated with dilated and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In vinculin, the actin binding site resides in the tail domain. In this paper, we show that MVt binds actin filaments similarly to the vinculin tail domain. Unlike its splice variant, MVt did not bundle actin filaments. Instead, MVt promoted severing of actin filaments, most efficiently at substoichiometric concentrations. This surprising and seemingly contradictory alteration of vinculin function by the 68-residue insert may be essential for modulating compliance of vinculin-induced actin bundles when exposed to rapidly increasing external forces.
JunB helps set in motion the transcriptional program necessary for the epithelial–mesenchymal transition and tissue fibrosis in response to TGF-β.
The process of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) in response to transforming growth factor–β (TGF-β) contributes to tissue fibrosis, wound healing, and cancer via a mechanism that is not fully understood. This study identifies a critical role of JunB in the EMT and profibrotic responses to TGF-β. Depletion of JunB by small interfering ribonucleic acid abrogates TGF-β–induced disruption of cell–cell junctions, formation of actin fibers, focal adhesions, and expression of fibrotic proteins. JunB contributes to Smad-mediated repression of inhibitor of differentiation 2 through interaction with transcription repressor activating transcription factor 3. Importantly, JunB mediates the TGF-β induction of profibrotic response factors, fibronectin, fibulin-2, tropomyosin (Tpm1), and integrin-β3, which play critical roles in matrix deposition, cell–matrix adhesion, and actin stress fibers. In summary, JunB provides important input in setting the transcriptional program of the EMT and profibrotic responses to TGF-β. Thus, JunB represents an important target in diseases associated with EMT, including cancer and fibrosis.
RAB-6.2, its effector LIN-10, and the retromer complex maintain synaptic strength by recycling postsynaptic glutamate receptors along the retrograde transport pathway.
Regulated membrane trafficking of AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) is a key mechanism underlying synaptic plasticity, yet the pathways used by AMPARs are not well understood. In this paper, we show that the AMPAR subunit GLR-1 in Caenorhabditis elegans utilizes the retrograde transport pathway to regulate AMPAR synaptic abundance. Mutants for rab-6.2, the retromer genes vps-35 and snx-1, and rme-8 failed to recycle GLR-1 receptors, resulting in GLR-1 turnover and behavioral defects indicative of diminished GLR-1 function. In contrast, expression of constitutively active RAB-6.2 drove the retrograde transport of GLR-1 from dendrites back to cell body Golgi. We also find that activated RAB-6.2 bound to and colocalized with the PDZ/phosphotyrosine binding domain protein LIN-10. RAB-6.2 recruited LIN-10. Moreover, the regulation of GLR-1 transport by RAB-6.2 required LIN-10 activity. Our results demonstrate a novel role for RAB-6.2, its effector LIN-10, and the retromer complex in maintaining synaptic strength by recycling AMPARs along the retrograde transport pathway.
In vitro reconstitution fusion assays incorporating full-length membrane-anchored synaptotagmin I clarify its role in several steps in the secretory pathway.
The synaptic vesicle protein synaptotagmin I (syt) promotes exocytosis via its ability to penetrate membranes in response to binding Ca2+ and through direct interactions with SNARE proteins. However, studies using full-length (FL) membrane-embedded syt in reconstituted fusion assays have yielded conflicting results, including a lack of effect, or even inhibition of fusion, by Ca2+. In this paper, we show that reconstituted FL syt promoted rapid docking of vesicles (<1 min) followed by a priming step (3–9 min) that was required for subsequent Ca2+-triggered fusion between v- and t-SNARE liposomes. Moreover, fusion occurred only when phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate was included in the target membrane. This system also recapitulates some of the effects of syt mutations that alter synaptic transmission in neurons. Finally, we demonstrate that the cytoplasmic domain of syt exhibited mixed agonist/antagonist activity during regulated membrane fusion in vitro and in cells. Together, these findings reveal further convergence of reconstituted and cell-based systems.
Cell migration is a fundamental process in a wide array of biological and
pathological responses. It is regulated by complex signal transduction pathways
in response to external cues that couple to growth factor and chemokine
receptors. In recent years, the target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase, as part of
either TOR complex 1 (TORC1) or TOR complex 2 (TORC2), has been shown to be an
important signaling component linking external signals to the cytoskeletal
machinery in a variety of cell types and organisms. Thus, these complexes have
emerged as key regulators of cell migration and chemotaxis.
RNAi Screens in Drosophila and human cells for novel actin regulators revealed conserved roles for proteins involved in nuclear actin export, RNA splicing, and ubiquitination.
Although a large number of actin-binding proteins and their regulators have been identified through classical approaches, gaps in our knowledge remain. Here, we used genome-wide RNA interference as a systematic method to define metazoan actin regulators based on visual phenotype. Using comparative screens in cultured Drosophila and human cells, we generated phenotypic profiles for annotated actin regulators together with proteins bearing predicted actin-binding domains. These phenotypic clusters for the known metazoan “actinome” were used to identify putative new core actin regulators, together with a number of genes with conserved but poorly studied roles in the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton, several of which we studied in detail. This work suggests that although our search for new components of the core actin machinery is nearing saturation, regulation at the level of nuclear actin export, RNA splicing, ubiquitination, and other upstream processes remains an important but unexplored frontier of actin biology.
Cdc42 regulates cardiac function in mice and flies downstream of a conserved Tinman/Nkx2-5–miR-1 signaling network.
Unraveling the gene regulatory networks that govern development and function of the mammalian heart is critical for the rational design of therapeutic interventions in human heart disease. Using the Drosophila heart as a platform for identifying novel gene interactions leading to heart disease, we found that the Rho-GTPase Cdc42 cooperates with the cardiac transcription factor Tinman/Nkx2-5. Compound Cdc42, tinman heterozygous mutant flies exhibited impaired cardiac output and altered myofibrillar architecture, and adult heart–specific interference with Cdc42 function is sufficient to cause these same defects. We also identified K+ channels, encoded by dSUR and slowpoke, as potential effectors of the Cdc42–Tinman interaction. To determine whether a Cdc42–Nkx2-5 interaction is conserved in the mammalian heart, we examined compound heterozygous mutant mice and found conduction system and cardiac output defects. In exploring the mechanism of Nkx2-5 interaction with Cdc42, we demonstrated that mouse Cdc42 was a target of, and negatively regulated by miR-1, which itself was negatively regulated by Nkx2-5 in the mouse heart and by Tinman in the fly heart. We conclude that Cdc42 plays a conserved role in regulating heart function and is an indirect target of Tinman/Nkx2-5 via miR-1.
Mia3’s contribution to protein secretion is broader than previously realized—its absence impairs collagen deposition and normal development of cartilage and bone.
Melanoma inhibitory activity member 3 (MIA3/TANGO1) is an evolutionarily conserved endoplasmic reticulum resident transmembrane protein. Recent in vitro studies have shown that it is required for the loading of collagen VII, but not collagen I, into COPII-coated transport vesicles. In this paper, we show that mice lacking Mia3 are defective for the secretion of numerous collagens, including collagens I, II, III, IV, VII, and IX, from chondrocytes, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and mural cells. Collagen deposition by these cell types is abnormal, and extracellular matrix composition is compromised. These changes are associated with intracellular accumulation of collagen and the induction of a strong unfolded protein response, primarily within the developing skeleton. Chondrocyte maturation and bone mineralization are severely compromised in Mia3-null embryos, leading to dwarfism and neonatal lethality. Thus, Mia3’s role in protein secretion is much broader than previously realized, and it may, in fact, be required for the efficient secretion of all collagen molecules in higher organisms.
Adult stem cells exist in most mammalian organs and tissues and are indispensable for normal tissue homeostasis and repair. In most tissues, there is an age-related decline in stem cell functionality but not a depletion of stem cells. Such functional changes reflect deleterious effects of age on the genome, epigenome, and proteome, some of which arise cell autonomously and others of which are imposed by an age-related change in the local milieu or systemic environment. Notably, some of the changes, particularly epigenomic and proteomic, are potentially reversible, and both environmental and genetic interventions can result in the rejuvenation of aged stem cells. Such findings have profound implications for the stem cell–based therapy of age-related diseases.
The relationship between cargo accumulation and clathrin-coated pit initiation and maturation is examined by direct visualization of receptor-engaged clathrin-coated pits.
Clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) is the major pathway for concentrative uptake of receptors and receptor–ligand complexes (cargo). Although constitutively internalized cargos are known to accumulate into maturing clathrin-coated pits (CCPs), whether and how cargo recruitment affects the initiation and maturation of CCPs is not fully understood. Previous studies have addressed these issues by analyzing the global effects of receptor overexpression on CME or CCP dynamics. Here, we exploit a refined approach using expression of a biotinylated transferrin receptor (bTfnR) and controlling its local clustering using mono- or multivalent streptavidin. We show that local clustering of bTfnR increased CCP initiation. By tracking cargo loading in individual CCPs, we found that bTfnR clustering preceded clathrin assembly and confirmed that bTfnR-containing CCPs mature more efficiently than bTfnR-free CCPs. Although neither the clustering nor the related changes in cargo loading altered the rate of CCP maturation, bTfnR-containing CCPs exhibited significantly longer lifetimes than other CCPs within the same cell. Together these results demonstrate that cargo composition is a key source of the differential dynamics of CCPs.
A conserved γ-tubulin complex–binding domain in CDK5RAP2 stimulates the microtubule-nucleating activity of γ-TuRC.
CDK5RAP2 is a human microcephaly protein that contains a γ-tubulin complex (γ-TuC)–binding domain conserved in Drosophila
melanogaster centrosomin and Schizosaccharomyces pombe Mto1p and Pcp1p, which are γ-TuC–tethering proteins. In this study, we show that this domain within CDK5RAP2 associates with the γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC) to stimulate its microtubule-nucleating activity and is therefore referred to as the γ-TuRC–mediated nucleation activator (γ-TuNA). γ-TuNA but not its γ-TuC–binding-deficient mutant stimulates microtubule nucleation by purified γ-TuRC in vitro and induces extensive, γ-TuRC-dependent nucleation of microtubules in a microtubule regrowth assay. γ-TuRC bound to γ-TuNA contains NME7, FAM128A/B, and actin in addition to γ-tubulin and GCP2–6. RNA interference–mediated depletion of CDK5RAP2 impairs both centrosomal and acentrosomal microtubule nucleation, although γ-TuRC assembly is unaffected. Collectively, these results suggest that the γ-TuNA found in CDK5RAP2 has regulatory functions in γ-TuRC–mediated microtubule nucleation.
The calcium-dependent activator proteins for secretion, CAPS1 and CAPS2, facilitate syntaxin opening during synaptic vesicle priming.
Priming of large dense-core vesicles (LDCVs) is a Ca2+-dependent step by which LDCVs enter a release-ready pool, involving the formation of the soluble N-ethyl-maleimide sensitive fusion protein attachment protein (SNAP) receptor complex consisting of syntaxin, SNAP-25, and synaptobrevin. Using mice lacking both isoforms of the calcium-dependent activator protein for secretion (CAPS), we show that LDCV priming in adrenal chromaffin cells entails two distinct steps. CAPS is required for priming of the readily releasable LDCV pool and sustained secretion in the continued presence of high Ca2+ concentrations. Either CAPS1 or CAPS2 can rescue secretion in cells lacking both CAPS isoforms. Furthermore, the deficit in the readily releasable LDCV pool resulting from CAPS deletion is reversed by a constitutively open form of syntaxin but not by Munc13-1, a priming protein that facilitates the conversion of syntaxin to the open conformation. Our data indicate that CAPS functions downstream of Munc13s but also interacts functionally with Munc13s in the LDCV-priming process.
In response to tissue stiffening, fibroblasts increase production of extracellular matrix while decreasing production of matrix-degrading enzymes and the fibrosis inhibitor prostaglandin E2.
Tissue stiffening is a hallmark of fibrotic disorders but has traditionally been regarded as an outcome of fibrosis, not a contributing factor to pathogenesis. In this study, we show that fibrosis induced by bleomycin injury in the murine lung locally increases median tissue stiffness sixfold relative to normal lung parenchyma. Across this pathophysiological stiffness range, cultured lung fibroblasts transition from a surprisingly quiescent state to progressive increases in proliferation and matrix synthesis, accompanied by coordinated decreases in matrix proteolytic gene expression. Increasing matrix stiffness strongly suppresses fibroblast expression of COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2) and synthesis of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), an autocrine inhibitor of fibrogenesis. Exogenous PGE2 or an agonist of the prostanoid EP2 receptor completely counteracts the proliferative and matrix synthetic effects caused by increased stiffness. Together, these results demonstrate a dominant role for normal tissue compliance, acting in part through autocrine PGE2, in maintaining fibroblast quiescence and reveal a feedback relationship between matrix stiffening, COX-2 suppression, and fibroblast activation that promotes and amplifies progressive fibrosis.