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Intimal stiffening has been linked with increased vascular permeability and leukocyte transmigration, hallmarks of atherosclerosis. However, recent evidence indicates age-related intimal stiffening is not uniform but rather characterized by increased point-to-point heterogeneity in subendothelial matrix stiffness, the impact of which is much less understood. To investigate the impact of spatially heterogeneous matrix rigidity on endothelial monolayer integrity, we develop a micropillar model to introduce closely-spaced, step-changes in substrate rigidity and compare endothelial monolayer phenotype to rigidity-matched, uniformly stiff and compliant substrates. We found equivalent disruption of adherens junctions within monolayers on step-rigidity and uniformly stiff substrates relative to uniformly compliant substrates. Similarly, monolayers cultured on step-rigidity substrates exhibited equivalent percentages of leukocyte transmigration to monolayers on rigidity-matched, uniformly stiff substrates. Adherens junction tension and focal adhesion density, but not size, increased within monolayers on step-rigidity and uniformly stiff substrates compared to more compliant substrates suggesting that elevated tension is disrupting adherens junction integrity. Leukocyte transmigration frequency and time, focal adhesion size, and focal adhesion density did not differ between stiff and compliant sub-regions of step-rigidity substrates. Overall, our results suggest that endothelial monolayers exposed to mechanically heterogeneous substrates adopt the phenotype associated with the stiffer matrix, indicating that spatial heterogeneities in intimal stiffness observed with age could disrupt endothelial barrier integrity and contribute to atherogenesis.
Alveolar type II (AT2) epithelial cells are uniquely specialized to produce surfactant in the lung and act as progenitor cells in the process of repair after lung injury. AT2 cell injury has been implicated in several lung diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and bronchopulmonary dysplasia. The inability to maintain primary AT2 cells in culture has been a significant barrier in the investigation of pulmonary biology. We have addressed this knowledge gap by developing a three-dimensional (3D) organotypic coculture using primary human fetal AT2 cells and pulmonary fibroblasts. Grown on top of matrix-embedded fibroblasts, the primary human AT2 cells establish a monolayer and have direct contact with the underlying pulmonary fibroblasts. Unlike conventional two-dimensional (2D) culture, the structural and functional phenotype of the AT2 cells in our 3D organotypic culture was preserved over 7 days of culture, as evidenced by the presence of lamellar bodies and by production of surfactant proteins B and C. Importantly, the AT2 cells in 3D cocultures maintained the ability to replicate, with approximately 60% of AT2 cells staining positive for the proliferation marker Ki67, whereas no such proliferation is evident in 2D cultures of the same primary AT2 cells. This organotypic culture system enables interrogation of AT2 epithelial biology by providing a reductionist in vitro model in which to investigate the response of AT2 epithelial cells and AT2 cell-fibroblast interactions during lung injury and repair.
Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are major components of the carcinoma microenvironment that promote tumor progression. However, the mechanisms by which CAFs regulate cancer cell migration are poorly understood. In this study, we show that fibronectin (Fn) assembled by CAFs mediates CAF-cancer cell association and directional migration. Compared with normal fibroblasts, CAFs produce an Fn-rich extracellular matrix with anisotropic fiber orientation, which guides the cancer cells to migrate directionally. CAFs align the Fn matrix by increasing nonmuscle myosin II- and platelet-derived growth factor receptor α-mediated contractility and traction forces, which are transduced to Fn through α5β1 integrin. We further show that prostate cancer cells use αv integrin to migrate efficiently and directionally on CAF-derived matrices. We demonstrate that aligned Fn is a prominent feature of invasion sites in human prostatic and pancreatic carcinoma samples. Collectively, we present a new mechanism by which CAFs organize the Fn matrix and promote directional cancer cell migration.
© 2017 Erdogan et al.
In preterm infants, soluble inflammatory mediators target lung mesenchymal cells, disrupting airway and alveolar morphogenesis. However, how mesenchymal cells respond directly to microbial stimuli remains poorly characterized. Our objective was to measure the genome-wide innate immune response in fetal lung mesenchymal cells exposed to the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS). With the use of Affymetrix MoGene 1.0st arrays, we showed that LPS induced expression of unique innate immune transcripts heavily weighted toward CC and CXC family chemokines. The transcriptional response was different between cells from E11, E15, and E18 mouse lungs. In all cells tested, LPS inhibited expression of a small core group of genes including the VEGF receptor Although best characterized in vascular endothelial populations, we demonstrated here that fetal mouse lung mesenchymal cells express and respond to VEGF-A stimulation. In mesenchymal cells, VEGF-A increased cell migration, activated the ERK/AKT pathway, and promoted FOXO3A nuclear exclusion. With the use of an experimental coculture model of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions, we also showed that VEGFR2 inhibition prevented formation of three-dimensional structures. Both LPS and tyrosine kinase inhibition reduced three-dimensional structure formation. Our data suggest a novel mechanism for inflammation-mediated defects in lung development involving reduced VEGF signaling in lung mesenchyme.
Copyright © 2017 the American Physiological Society.
Paneth cells (PCs), a secretory population located at the base of the intestinal crypt, support the intestinal stem cells (ISC) with growth factors and participate in innate immunity by releasing antimicrobial peptides, including lysozyme and defensins. PC dysfunction is associated with disorders such as Crohn's disease and necrotizing enterocolitis, but the specific pathways regulating PC development and function are not fully understood. Here we tested the role of the neuregulin receptor ErbB3 in control of PC differentiation and the ISC niche. Intestinal epithelial ErbB3 knockout caused precocious appearance of PCs as early as postnatal day 7, and substantially increased the number of mature PCs in adult mouse ileum. ErbB3 loss had no effect on other secretory lineages, but increased expression of the ISC marker Lgr5. ErbB3-null intestines had elevated levels of the Atoh1 transcription factor, which is required for secretory fate determination, while Atoh1 cells had reduced ErbB3, suggesting reciprocal negative regulation. ErbB3-null intestinal progenitor cells showed reduced activation of the PI3K-Akt and ERK MAPK pathways. Inhibiting these pathways in HT29 cells increased levels of ATOH1 and the PC marker LYZ. Conversely, ErbB3 activation suppressed LYZ and ATOH1 in a PI3K-dependent manner. Expansion of the PC compartment in ErbB3-null intestines was accompanied with elevated ER stress and inflammation markers, raising the possibility that negative regulation of PCs by ErbB3 is necessary to maintain homeostasis. Taken together, our data suggest that ErbB3 restricts PC numbers through PI3K-mediated suppression of Atoh1 levels leading to inhibition of PC differentiation, with important implications for regulation of the ISC niche.
Tubulointerstitial fibrosis, tubular atrophy, and peritubular capillary rarefaction are major hallmarks of chronic kidney disease. The tubulointerstitium consists of multiple cell components including tubular epithelial, mesenchymal (fibroblasts and pericytes), endothelial, and inflammatory cells. Crosstalk among these cell components is a key component in the pathogenesis of this complex disease. After severe or recurrent injury, the renal tubular epithelial cells undergo changes in structure and cell cycle that are accompanied by altered expression and production of cytokines. These cytokines contribute to the initiation of the fibrotic response by favoring activation of fibroblasts, recruitment of inflammatory cells, and loss of endothelial cells. This review focuses on how augmented growth factor and cytokine production induces epithelial crosstalk with cells in the interstitium to promote progressive tubulointerstitial fibrosis after renal injury.
Copyright © 2016 International Society of Nephrology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Proteomics studies have identified Ste20-related proline/alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) and oxidative stress response 1 (OSR1) in exosomes isolated from body fluids such as blood, saliva, and urine. Because proteomics studies likely overestimate the number of exosome proteins, we sought to confirm and extend this observation using traditional biochemical and cell biology methods. We utilized HEK293 cells in culture to verify the packaging of these Ste20 kinases in exosomes. Using a series of centrifugation and filtration steps of conditioned culture medium isolated from HEK293 cells, we isolated nanovesicles in the range of 40-100 nm. We show that these small vesicles express the tetraspanin protein CD63 and lack endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi markers, consistent with these being exosomes. We show by Western blot and immunogold analyses that these exosomes express SPAK, OSR1, and Na-K-Cl cotransporter 1 (NKCC1). We show that exosomes are not only secreted by cells, but also accumulated by adjacent cells. Indeed, exposing cultured cells to exosomes produced by other cells expressing a fluorescently labeled kinase resulted in the kinase finding its way into the cytoplasm of these cells, consistent with the idea of exosomes serving as cell-to-cell communication vessels. Similarly, coculturing cells expressing different fluorescently tagged proteins resulted in the exchange of proteins between cells. In addition, we show that both SPAK and OSR1 kinases entering cells through exosomes are preferentially expressed at the plasma membrane and that the kinases in exosomes are functional and maintain NKCC1 in a phosphorylated state.
Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society.
Microfluidic devices have very broad applications in biological assays from simple chemotaxis assays to much more complicated 3D bioreactors. In this chapter, we describe the design and methods for performing chemotaxis assays using simple microfluidic chemotaxis chambers. With these devices, using real-time video microscopy we can examine the chemotactic responses of neutrophil-like cells under conditions of varying gradient steepness or flow rate and then utilize software programs to calculate the speed and angles of cell migration as gradient steepness and flow are varied. Considering the shearing force generated on the cells by the constant flow that is required to produce and maintain a stable gradient, the trajectories of the cell migration will reflect the net result of both shear force generated by flow and the chemotactic force resulting from the chemokine gradient. Moreover, the effects of mutations in chemokine receptors or the presence of inhibitors of intracellular signals required for gradient sensing can be evaluated in real time. We also describe a method to monitor intracellular signals required for cells to alter cell polarity in response to an abrupt switch in gradient direction. Lastly, we demonstrate an in vitro method for studying the interactions of human cancer cells with human endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and leukocytes, as well as environmental chemokines and cytokines, using 3D microbioreactors that mimic the in vivo microenvironment.
© 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Precise patterning of dendritic arbors is critical for the wiring and function of neural circuits. Dendrite-extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion ensures that the dendrites of Drosophila dendritic arborization (da) sensory neurons are properly restricted in a 2D space, and thereby facilitates contact-mediated dendritic self-avoidance and tiling. However, the mechanisms regulating dendrite-ECM adhesion in vivo are poorly understood. Here, we show that mutations in the semaphorin ligand sema-2b lead to a dramatic increase in self-crossing of dendrites due to defects in dendrite-ECM adhesion, resulting in a failure to confine dendrites to a 2D plane. Furthermore, we find that Sema-2b is secreted from the epidermis and signals through the Plexin B receptor in neighboring neurons. Importantly, we find that Sema-2b/PlexB genetically and physically interacts with TORC2 complex, Tricornered (Trc) kinase, and integrins. These results reveal a novel role for semaphorins in dendrite patterning and illustrate how epidermal-derived cues regulate neural circuit assembly.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Synaptogenesis requires orchestrated intercellular communication between synaptic partners, with trans-synaptic signals necessarily traversing the extracellular synaptomatrix separating presynaptic and postsynaptic cells. Extracellular matrix metalloproteinases (Mmps) regulated by secreted tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (Timps), cleave secreted and membrane-associated targets to sculpt the extracellular environment and modulate intercellular signaling. Here, we test the roles of Mmp at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) model synapse in the reductionist Drosophila system, which contains just two Mmps (secreted Mmp1 and GPI-anchored Mmp2) and one secreted Timp. We found that all three matrix metalloproteome components co-dependently localize in the synaptomatrix and show that both Mmp1 and Mmp2 independently restrict synapse morphogenesis and functional differentiation. Surprisingly, either dual knockdown or simultaneous inhibition of the two Mmp classes together restores normal synapse development, identifying a reciprocal suppression mechanism. The two Mmp classes co-regulate a Wnt trans-synaptic signaling pathway modulating structural and functional synaptogenesis, including the GPI-anchored heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) Wnt co-receptor Dally-like protein (Dlp), cognate receptor Frizzled-2 (Frz2) and Wingless (Wg) ligand. Loss of either Mmp1 or Mmp2 reciprocally misregulates Dlp at the synapse, with normal signaling restored by co-removal of both Mmp classes. Correcting Wnt co-receptor Dlp levels in both Mmp mutants prevents structural and functional synaptogenic defects. Taken together, these results identify an Mmp mechanism that fine-tunes HSPG co-receptor function to modulate Wnt signaling to coordinate synapse structural and functional development.
© 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.