ABSTRACT: Eph/ephrin signaling proteins are present in the corneal epithelium, where their function remains unknown. The authors examined the role of the EphA2 receptor and ephrin-A1 ligand in human corneal epithelial cell migration.Immunohistochemical analysis of EphA2 and ephrin-A1 in healthy and diabetic corneas was performed in concert with linear scratch wound healing studies in primary and telomerase-immortalized human corneal epithelial cells. Corneal epithelial cells were exposed to a soluble ephrin-A1-Fc peptide mimetic that targets EphA2 to trigger receptor phosphorylation and subsequent downregulation. Genetic modulation of EphA2 and ephrin-A1 levels was combined with manipulation of Erk1/2 or Akt signaling during wound healing.EphA2 was immunolocalized to human corneal epithelial cells in vivo and in vitro. Ephrin-A1 ligand targeting of EphA2 restricted the ability of corneal epithelial cells to seal linear scratch wounds in a manner that was associated with a transient reduction in Erk1/2 and Akt activation state. Ephrin-A1-Fc treatment delayed wound healing independently of Mek-Erk1/2 signaling but was no longer capable of restricting migration after pharmacologic blockade of the PI3K-Akt pathway. Interestingly, ephrin-A1 immunoreactivity was increased in the corneal epithelia of diabetic individuals, mice maintained on a high-fat diet, or cultured corneal epithelial cells exposed to high glucose, which exhibit impaired Akt signaling and slower wound healing responses.EphA2 attenuates corneal epithelial cell migration when stimulated by ephrin-A1 ligand in a manner that involves the suppression of Akt. Elevated levels of ephrin-A1 may contribute to diabetic keratopathies by persistently engaging EphA2 and prohibiting Akt-dependent corneal epithelial repair processes.
Project description:Progenitor cells of the limbal epithelium reside in a discrete area peripheral to the more differentiated corneal epithelium and maintain tissue homeostasis. What regulates the limbal-corneal epithelial boundary is a major unanswered question. Ephrin-A1 ligand is enriched in the limbal epithelium, whereas EphA2 receptor is concentrated in the corneal epithelium. This reciprocal pattern led us to assess the role of ephrin-A1 and EphA2 in limbal-corneal epithelial boundary organization.EphA2-expressing corneal epithelial cells engineered to express ephrin-A1 were used to study boundary formation in vitro in a manner that mimicked the relative abundance of these juxtamembrane signaling proteins in the limbal and corneal epithelium in vivo. Interaction of these two distinct cell populations following initial seeding into discrete culture compartments was assessed by live cell imaging. Immunofluoresence and immunoblotting was used to evaluate the contribution of downstream growth factor signaling and cell-cell adhesion systems to boundary formation at sites of heterotypic contact between ephrin-A1 and EphA2 expressing cells.Ephrin-A1-expressing cells impeded and reversed the migration of EphA2-expressing corneal epithelial cells upon heterotypic contact formation leading to coordinated migration of the two cell populations in the direction of an ephrin-A1-expressing leading front. Genetic silencing and pharmacologic inhibitor studies demonstrated that the ability of ephrin-A1 to direct migration of EphA2-expressing cells depended on an a disintegrin and metalloproteinase domain-containing protein 10 (ADAM10) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway that limited E-cadherin-mediated adhesion at heterotypic boundaries.Ephrin-A1/EphA2 signaling complexes play a key role in limbal-corneal epithelial compartmentalization and the response of these tissues to injury.
Project description:EphA2 receptor tyrosine kinase is activated by ephrin-A1 ligand, which harbors a glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor that enhances lipid raft localization. Although EphA2 and ephrin-A1 modulate keratinocyte migration and differentiation, the ability of this cell-cell communication complex to localize to different membrane regions in keratinocytes remains unknown. Using a combination of biochemical and imaging approaches, we provide evidence that ephrin-A1 and a ligand-activated form of EphA2 partition outside of lipid raft domains in response to calcium-mediated cell-cell contact stabilization in normal human epidermal keratinocytes. EphA2 transmembrane domain swapping with a shorter and molecularly distinct transmembrane domain of EphA1 resulted in decreased localization of this receptor tyrosine kinase at cell-cell junctions and increased expression of ephrin-A1, which is a negative regulator of keratinocyte migration. Accordingly, altered EphA2 membrane distribution at cell-cell contacts limited the ability of keratinocytes to seal linear scratch wounds in vitro in an ephrin-A1-dependent manner. Collectively, these studies highlight a key role for the EphA2 transmembrane domain in receptor-ligand membrane distribution at cell-cell contacts that modulates ephrin-A1 levels to allow for efficient keratinocyte migration with relevance for cutaneous wound healing.
Project description:EphA2 is a receptor tyrosine kinase that is engaged and activated by membrane-linked ephrin-A ligands residing on adjacent cell surfaces. Ligand targeting of EphA2 has been implicated in epithelial growth regulation by inhibiting the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (Erk1/2)-mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Although contact-dependent EphA2 activation was required for dampening Erk1/2-MAPK signaling after a calcium switch in primary human epidermal keratinocytes, the loss of this receptor did not prevent exit from the cell cycle. Incubating keratinocytes with a soluble ephrin-A1-Fc peptide mimetic to target EphA2 further increased receptor activation leading to its down-regulation. Moreover, soluble ligand targeting of EphA2 restricted the lateral expansion of epidermal cell colonies without limiting proliferation in these primary cultures. Rather, ephrin-A1-Fc peptide treatment promoted epidermal cell colony compaction and stratification in a manner that was associated with increased keratinocyte differentiation. The ligand-dependent increase in keratinocyte adhesion and differentiation relied largely upon the up-regulation of desmoglein 1, a desmosomal cadherin that maintains the integrity and differentiated state of suprabasal keratinocytes in the epidermis. These data suggest that keratinocytes expressing EphA2 in the basal layer may respond to ephrin-A1-based cues from their neighbors to facilitate entry into a terminal differentiation pathway.
Project description:Receptor tyrosine kinases of the Eph family play multiple roles in the physiological regulation of tissue homeostasis and in the pathogenesis of various diseases, including cancer. The EphA2 receptor is highly expressed in most cancer cell types, where it has disparate activities that are not well understood. It has been reported that interplay of EphA2 with oncogenic signaling pathways promotes cancer cell malignancy independently of ephrin ligand binding and receptor kinase activity. In contrast, stimulation of EphA2 signaling with ephrin-A ligands can suppress malignancy by inhibiting the Ras-MAP kinase pathway, integrin-mediated adhesion, and epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Here we show that ephrin-A1 ligand-dependent activation of EphA2 decreases the growth of PC3 prostate cancer cells and profoundly inhibits the Akt-mTORC1 pathway, which is hyperactivated due to loss of the PTEN tumor suppressor. Our results do not implicate changes in the activity of Akt upstream regulators (such as Ras family GTPases, PI3 kinase, integrins, or the Ship2 lipid phosphatase) in the observed loss of Akt T308 and S473 phosphorylation downstream of EphA2. Indeed, EphA2 can inhibit Akt phosphorylation induced by oncogenic mutations of not only PTEN but also PI3 kinase. Furthermore, it can decrease the hyperphosphorylation induced by constitutive membrane-targeting of Akt. Our data suggest a novel signaling mechanism whereby EphA2 inactivates the Akt-mTORC1 oncogenic pathway through Akt dephosphorylation mediated by a serine/threonine phosphatase. Ephrin-A1-induced Akt dephosphorylation was observed not only in PC3 prostate cancer cells but also in other cancer cell types. Thus, activation of EphA2 signaling represents a possible new avenue for anti-cancer therapies that exploit the remarkable ability of this receptor to counteract multiple oncogenic signaling pathways.
Project description:Both pro- and antioncogenic properties have been attributed to EphA2 kinase. We report that a possible cause for this apparent paradox is diametrically opposite roles of EphA2 in regulating cell migration and invasion. While activation of EphA2 with its ligand ephrin-A1 inhibited chemotactic migration of glioma and prostate cancer cells, EphA2 overexpression promoted migration in a ligand-independent manner. Surprisingly, the latter effects required phosphorylation of EphA2 on serine 897 by Akt, and S897A mutation abolished ligand-independent promotion of cell motility. Ephrin-A1 stimulation of EphA2 negated Akt activation by growth factors and caused EphA2 dephosphorylation on S897. In human astrocytoma, S897 phosphorylation was correlated with tumor grades and Akt activation, suggesting that the Akt-EphA2 crosstalk may contribute to brain tumor progression.
Project description:DNase I has been reported to improve diabetic wound healing through the clearance of neutrophils extracellular traps (NETs) caused by neutrophil aggregation. However, the function of DNase I on diabetic corneal wound healing remains unclear. Here, we investigated the effect and mechanism of topical DNase I application on diabetic mouse corneal epithelial and nerve regeneration. Corneal epithelial defects, inflammatory response, regeneration-related signalling pathways, oxidative stress, corneal innervation and sensation were examined and compared between the diabetic and normal mice. The results confirmed firstly the increased NETs production during the delayed corneal epithelial wound healing of diabetic mice, which was significantly improved through either DNase I or Cl-amidine administration. Mechanistically, DNase I improved inflammation resolution, reactivated epithelial regeneration-related signalling pathways and attenuated the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Moreover, DNase I application also promoted corneal nerve regeneration and restored the impaired corneal sensitivity in diabetic mice. Therefore, these results indicate that topical DNase I application promotes corneal epithelial wound healing and mechanical sensation restoration in diabetic mice, representing the potential therapeutic approach for diabetic keratopathy.
Project description:Netrins are secreted chemoattractants with the roles in axon guidance, cell migration and epithelial plasticity. In the present study, we investigated the roles of netrin-1 in the regulation of corneal epithelial wound healing, inflammation response and nerve fiber regeneration in diabetic mice and cultured corneal epithelial cells. In diabetic mice, the expression of netrin-1 was decreased when compared with that of normal mice. Furthermore, high glucose blocked the wounding-induced up-regulation of netrin-1 expression in corneal epithelial cells. Exogenous netrin-1 promoted the corneal epithelial wound healing in diabetic mice, and facilitated the proliferation and migration by reactivating the phosphorylation of ERK and EGFR in high-glucose treated corneal epithelial cells. Moreover, netrin-1 decreased the neutrophil infiltration and promoted M2 macrophage transition, accompanied with the attenuated expression of pro-inflammatory factors in diabetic mouse corneal epithelium. The promotions of netrin-1 on corneal epithelial wound healing and inflammation resolution were mediated at least through the adenosine 2B receptor. In addition, netrin-1 promoted the regeneration of corneal nerve fibers that was impaired in diabetic mice. Taken together, netrin-1 regulates corneal epithelial wound healing, inflammation response and nerve fiber regeneration in diabetic mice, indicating the potential application for the therapy of diabetic keratopathy.
Project description:Patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) may develop corneal complications and delayed wound healing. The aims of this study are to characterize the molecular signatures and biological pathways leading to delayed epithelial wound healing and to delineate the involvement of TGF?3 therein. Genome-wide cDNA microarray analysis revealed 1,888 differentially expressed genes in the healing epithelia of normal (NL) versus type 1 DM rat corneas. Gene ontology and enrichment analyses indicated TGF? signaling as a major altered pathway. Among three TGF? isoforms, TGF-?1 and ?3 were upregulated in response to wounding in NL corneal epithelial cells (CECs), whereas the latter was greatly suppressed by hyperglycemia in rat type 1 and 2 and mouse type 1 DM models. Functional analysis indicated that TGF-?3 contributed to wound healing in NL corneas. Moreover, exogenously added TGF-?3 accelerated epithelial wound closure in type 2 rat and type 1 mouse DM corneas via Smad and PI3K-AKT signaling pathways, autoregulation, and/or upregulation of Serpine1, a well-known TGF? target gene. Taken together, our study for the first time provides a comprehensive list of genes differentially expressed in the healing CECs of NL versus diabetic corneas and suggests the therapeutic potential of TGF-?3 for treating corneal and skin wounds in diabetic patients.
Project description:Diabetic corneas overexpress proteinases including matrix metalloproteinase-10 (M10) and cathepsin F (CF). Our purpose was to assess if silencing M10 and CF in organ-cultured diabetic corneas using recombinant adenovirus (rAV)-driven small hairpin RNA (rAV-sh) would normalize slow wound healing, and diabetic and stem cell marker expression.Sixteen pairs of organ-cultured autopsy human diabetic corneas (four per group) were treated with rAV-sh. Proteinase genes were silenced either separately, together, or both, in combination (Combo) with rAV-driven c-met gene overexpression. Fellow control corneas received rAV-EGFP. Quantitative RT-PCR confirmed small hairpin RNA (shRNA) silencing effect. Ten days after transfection, 5-mm epithelial wounds were made with n-heptanol and healing time recorded. Diabetic, signaling, and putative stem cell markers were studied by immunofluorescence of corneal cryostat sections.Proteinase silencing reduced epithelial wound healing time versus rAV-enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) control (23% for rAV-shM10, 31% for rAV-shCF, and 36% for rAV-shM10 + rAV-shCF). Combo treatment was even more efficient (55% reduction). Staining patterns of diabetic markers (???? integrin and nidogen-1), and of activated epidermal growth factor receptor and its signaling target activated Akt were normalized upon rAV-sh treatment. Combo treatment also restored normal staining for activated p38. All treatments, especially the combined ones, increased diabetes-altered staining for putative limbal stem cell markers, ?Np63?, ABCG2, keratins 15 and 17, and laminin ?3 chain.Small hairpin RNA silencing of proteinases overexpressed in diabetic corneas enhanced corneal epithelial and stem cell marker staining and accelerated wound healing. Combined therapy with c-met overexpression was even more efficient. Specific corneal gene therapy has a potential for treating diabetic keratopathy.
Project description:During tumor progression, EphA2 receptor can gain ligand-independent pro-oncogenic functions due to Akt activation and reduced ephrin-A ligand engagement. The effects can be reversed by ligand stimulation, which triggers the intrinsic tumor suppressive signaling pathways of EphA2 including inhibition of PI3/Akt and Ras/ERK pathways. These observations argue for development of small molecule agonists for EphA2 as potential tumor intervention agents. Through virtual screening and cell-based assays, we report here the identification and characterization of doxazosin as a novel small molecule agonist for EphA2 and EphA4, but not for other Eph receptors tested. NMR studies revealed extensive contacts of doxazosin with EphA2/A4, recapitulating both hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions recently found in the EphA2/ephrin-A1 complex. Clinically used as an ?1-adrenoreceptor antagonist (Cardura®) for treating hypertension and benign prostate hyperplasia, doxazosin activated EphA2 independent of ?1-adrenoreceptor. Similar to ephrin-A1, doxazosin inhibited Akt and ERK kinase activities in an EphA2-dependent manner. Treatment with doxazosin triggered EphA2 receptor internalization, and suppressed haptotactic and chemotactic migration of prostate cancer, breast cancer, and glioma cells. Moreover, in an orthotopic xenograft model, doxazosin reduced distal metastasis of human prostate cancer cells and prolonged survival in recipient mice. To our knowledge, doxazosin is the first small molecule agonist of a receptor tyrosine kinase that is capable of inhibiting malignant behaviors in vitro and in vivo.