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1.  Integrin α4β1 Regulates Migration across Basement Membranes by Lung Fibroblasts 
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a disease that is characterized by fibroblast accumulation and activation in the distal airspaces of the lung. We hypothesized that fibrotic lung fibroblasts migrate/invade across basement membranes by integrin-mediated mechanisms as a means of entering alveoli. We demonstrate that in lung fibroblasts derived from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, fibronectin signaling is both necessary and sufficient for basement membrane migration/invasion across basement membranes. This effect is mediated through the α5β1 integrin because blockade of fibronectin-α5 integrin ligation attenuated this response. In contrast, ligation of α4β1 integrin inhibits basement membrane invasion by normal lung fibroblasts but not by fibrotic lung fibroblasts. This phenotypic difference is not related to surface expression of the α4β1 integrin, as demonstrated by flow cytometry. In normal lung fibroblasts but not in fibrotic lung fibroblasts, we show that ligation of α4β1 integrin induces a significant increase in phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) activity. Fibrotic lung fibroblasts express constitutively less PTEN mRNA and protein as well as phosphatase activity in comparison to normal lung fibroblasts. Together, these data suggest that a loss of α4β1 signaling via PTEN confers a migratory/invasive phenotype to fibrotic lung fibroblasts. Furthermore, this study implicates a loss of PTEN function in the pathophysiology of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC1997294  PMID: 12791582
pulmonary fibrosis; extracellular matrix; fibronectins; cell movement

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