Critical involvement of ZEB2 in collagen fibrillogenesis: the molecular similarity between Mowat-Wilson syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
ABSTRACT: Mowat-Wilson syndrome (MOWS) is a congenital disease caused by de novo heterozygous loss of function mutations or deletions of the ZEB2 gene. MOWS patients show multiple anomalies including intellectual disability, a distinctive facial appearance, microcephaly, congenital heart defects and Hirschsprung disease. However, the skin manifestation(s) of patients with MOWS has not been documented in detail. Here, we recognized that MOWS patients exhibit many Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS)-like symptoms, such as skin hyperextensibility, atrophic scars and joint hypermobility. MOWS patients showed a thinner dermal thickness and electron microscopy revealed miniaturized collagen fibrils. Notably, mice with a mesoderm-specific deletion of the Zeb2 gene (Zeb2-cKO) demonstrated redundant skin, dermal hypoplasia and miniaturized collagen fibrils similar to those of MOWS patients. Dermal fibroblasts derived from Zeb2-cKO mice showed a decreased expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules, such as collagens, whereas molecules involved in degradation of the ECM, such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), were up-regulated. Furthermore, bleomycin-induced skin fibrosis was attenuated in Zeb2-cKO mice. We conclude that MOWS patients exhibit an EDS-like skin phenotype through alterations of collagen fibrillogenesis due to ZEB2 mutations or deletions.
Project description:Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a group of disorders caused by abnormalities in the extracellular matrix (ECM). Transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) plays a crucial role in formation of the ECM by the SMAD (Sma-and Mad-related protein, mothers against decapentaplegic homolog) pathway. It has been reported that loss of function of zinc transporter ZRT/IRT-like protein 13 (ZIP13) is the cause of the spondylocheiro dysplastic form of EDS (SCD-EDS: OMIM 612350). Our previous study suggested that TGF-?1 has a relationship with the skin pathological condition in the Zip13-Knockout (KO) mouse, which is a model of SCD-EDS. Thus far, effective treatment based on modern medicine for this syndrome has not yet been established. According to an approach of traditional Chinese medicine, the present study investigates the medicinal effects of Makomo (Zizania latifolia) on certain aspects of SCD-EDS, such as skin morphology and plasma TGF-?1, in Zip13-KO mice. Increases in densities of collagen fibers and fibrils without a significant change in thickness of the dermal layer were observed in the group of mice fed a Makomo-containing diet. No change in the amount of collagen suggests that Makomo feed does not elevate collagen synthesis, but changes the length of glycosaminoglycan chains and decreases the distance between collagen fibrils. In conclusion, the changes of the skin structure suggest that Makomo can increase the mechanical strength of skin.
Project description:The dermal extracellular matrix (ECM) provides strength and resiliency to skin. The ECM consists mostly of type I collagen fibrils, which are produced by fibroblasts. Binding of fibroblasts to collagen fibrils generates mechanical forces, which regulate cellular morphology and function. With aging, collagen fragmentation reduces fibroblast-ECM binding and mechanical forces, resulting in fibroblast shrinkage and reduced function, including collagen production. Here, we report that these age-related alterations are largely reversed by enhancing the structural support of the ECM. Injection of dermal filler, cross-linked hyaluronic acid, into the skin of individuals over 70 years of age stimulates fibroblasts to produce type I collagen. This stimulation is associated with localized increase in mechanical forces, indicated by fibroblast elongation/spreading, and mediated by upregulation of type II TGF-? receptor and connective tissue growth factor. Interestingly, enhanced mechanical support of the ECM also stimulates fibroblast proliferation, expands vasculature, and increases epidermal thickness. Consistent with our observations in human skin, injection of filler into dermal equivalent cultures causes elongation of fibroblasts, coupled with type I collagen synthesis, which is dependent on the TGF-? signaling pathway. Thus, fibroblasts in aged human skin retain their capacity for functional activation, which is restored by enhancing structural support of the ECM.
Project description:AEBP1 encodes the aortic carboxypeptidase-like protein (ACLP) that associates with collagens in the extracellular matrix (ECM) and has several roles in development, tissue repair, and fibrosis. ACLP is expressed in bone, the vasculature, and dermal tissues and is involved in fibroblast proliferation and mesenchymal stem cell differentiation into collagen-producing cells. Aebp1-/- mice have abnormal, delayed wound repair correlating with defects in fibroblast proliferation. In this study, we describe four individuals from three unrelated families that presented with a unique constellation of clinical findings including joint laxity, redundant and hyperextensible skin, poor wound healing with abnormal scarring, osteoporosis, and other features reminiscent of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). Analysis of skin biopsies revealed decreased dermal collagen with abnormal collagen fibrils that were ragged in appearance. Exome sequencing revealed compound heterozygous variants in AEBP1 (c.1470delC [p.Asn490_Met495delins(40)] and c.1743C>A [p.Cys581?]) in the first individual, a homozygous variant (c.1320_1326del [p.Arg440Serfs?3]) in the second individual, and a homozygous splice site variant (c.1630+1G>A) in two siblings from the third family. We show that ACLP enhances collagen polymerization and binds to several fibrillar collagens via its discoidin domain. These studies support the conclusion that bi-allelic pathogenic variants in AEBP1 are the cause of this autosomal-recessive EDS subtype.
Project description:The tensile and scaffolding properties of skin rely on the complex extracellular matrix (ECM) that surrounds cells, vasculature, nerves, and adnexus structures and supports the epidermis. In the skin, collagen I fibrils are the major structural component of the dermal ECM, decorated by proteoglycans and by fibril-associated collagens with interrupted triple helices such as collagens XII and XIV. Here we show that the cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP), an abundant component of cartilage ECM, is expressed in healthy human skin. COMP expression is detected in the dermal compartment of skin and in cultured fibroblasts, whereas epidermis and HaCaT cells are negative. In addition to binding collagen I, COMP binds to collagens XII and XIV via their C-terminal collagenous domains. All three proteins codistribute in a characteristic narrow zone in the superficial papillary dermis of healthy human skin. Ultrastructural analysis by immunogold labeling confirmed colocalization and further revealed the presence of COMP along with collagens XII and XIV in anchoring plaques. On the basis of these observations, we postulate that COMP functions as an adapter protein in human skin, similar to its function in cartilage ECM, by organizing collagen I fibrils into a suprastructure, mainly in the vicinity of anchoring plaques that stabilize the cohesion between the upper dermis and the basement membrane zone.
Project description:The Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) are a group of 13 disorders, clinically defined through features of joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility, and tissue fragility. Most subtypes are caused by mutations in genes affecting the structure or processing of the extracellular matrix (ECM) protein collagen. The Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSDs) are clinically indistinguishable disorders, but are considered to lack a genetic basis. The pathogenesis of all these disorders, however, remains poorly understood. Genotype-phenotype correlations are limited, and findings of aberrant collagen fibrils are inconsistent and associate poorly with the subtype and severity of the disorder. The defective ECM, however, also has consequences for cellular processes. EDS/HSD fibroblasts exhibit a dysfunctional phenotype including impairments in cell adhesion and cytoskeleton organization, though the pathological significance of this has remained unclear. Recent advances in our understanding of fibroblast mechanobiology suggest these changes may actually reflect features of a pathomechanism we herein define. This review departs from the traditional view of EDS/HSD, where pathogenesis is mediated by the structurally defective ECM. Instead, we propose EDS/HSD may be a disorder of membrane-bound collagen, and consider how aberrations in cell adhesion and cytoskeleton dynamics could drive the abnormal properties of the connective tissue, and be responsible for the pathogenesis of EDS/HSD.
Project description:The Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) are a heterogeneous group of heritable disorders affecting connective tissues. The mutations causing the various forms of EDS in humans are well characterized, but the genetic mutations causing EDS-like clinical pathology in dogs are not known, thus hampering accurate clinical diagnosis. Clinical analysis of two independent cases of skin hyperextensibility and fragility, one with pronounced joint hypermobility was suggestive of EDS. Whole-genome sequencing revealed de novo mutations of COL5A1 in both cases, confirming the diagnosis of the classical form of EDS. The heterozygous COL5A1 p.Gly1013ValfsTer260 mutation characterized in case 1 introduced a premature termination codon and would be expected to result in ?1(V) mRNA nonsense-mediated mRNA decay and collagen V haploinsufficiency. While mRNA was not available from this dog, ultrastructural analysis of the dermis demonstrated variability in collagen fibril diameter and the presence of collagen aggregates, termed 'collagen cauliflowers', consistent with COL5A1 mutations underlying classical EDS. In the second case, DNA sequencing demonstrated a p.Gly1571Arg missense variant in the COL5A1 gene. While samples were not available for further analysis, such a glycine substitution would be expected to destabilize the strict molecular structure of the collagen V triple helix and thus affect protein stability and/or integration of the mutant collagen into the collagen V/collagen I heterotypic dermal fibrils. This is the first report of genetic variants in the COL5A1 gene causing the clinical presentation of EDS in dogs. These data provided further evidence of the important role of collagen V in dermal collagen fibrillogenesis. Importantly, from the clinical perspective, we showed the utility of DNA sequencing, combined with the established clinical criteria, in the accurate diagnosis of EDS in dogs.
Project description:The Ehlers?Danlos syndromes (EDS) constitute a heterogenous group of connective tissue disorders characterized by joint hypermobility, skin abnormalities, and vascular fragility. The latest nosology recognizes 13 types caused by pathogenic variants in genes encoding collagens and other molecules involved in collagen processing and extracellular matrix (ECM) biology. Classical (cEDS), vascular (vEDS), and hypermobile (hEDS) EDS are the most frequent types. cEDS and vEDS are caused respectively by defects in collagen V and collagen III, whereas the molecular basis of hEDS is unknown. For these disorders, the molecular pathology remains poorly studied. Herein, we review, expand, and compare our previous transcriptome and protein studies on dermal fibroblasts from cEDS, vEDS, and hEDS patients, offering insights and perspectives in their molecular mechanisms. These cells, though sharing a pathological ECM remodeling, show differences in the underlying pathomechanisms. In cEDS and vEDS fibroblasts, key processes such as collagen biosynthesis/processing, protein folding quality control, endoplasmic reticulum homeostasis, autophagy, and wound healing are perturbed. In hEDS cells, gene expression changes related to cell-matrix interactions, inflammatory/pain responses, and acquisition of an in vitro pro-inflammatory myofibroblast-like phenotype may contribute to the complex pathogenesis of the disorder. Finally, emerging findings from miRNA profiling of hEDS fibroblasts are discussed to add some novel biological aspects about hEDS etiopathogenesis.
Project description:Increased expression of matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) and reduced production of type I collagen by dermal fibroblasts are prominent features of aged human skin. We have proposed that MMP-1-mediated collagen fibril fragmentation is a key driver of age-related decline of skin function. To investigate this hypothesis, we constructed, characterized, and expressed constitutively active MMP-1 mutant (MMP-1 V94G) in adult human skin in organ culture and fibroblasts in three-dimensional collagen lattice cultures. Expression of MMP-1 V94G in young skin in organ culture caused fragmentation and ultrastructural alterations of collagen fibrils similar to those observed in aged human skin in vivo. Expression of MMP-1 V94G in dermal fibroblasts cultured in three-dimensional collagen lattices caused substantial collagen fragmentation, which was markedly reduced by MMP-1 siRNA-mediated knockdown or MMP inhibitor MMI270. Importantly, fibroblasts cultured in MMP-1 V94G-fragmented collagen lattices displayed many alterations observed in fibroblasts in aged human skin, including reduced cytoplasmic area, disassembled actin cytoskeleton, impaired TGF-? pathway, and reduced collagen production. These results support the concept that MMP-1-mediated fragmentation of dermal collagen fibrils alters the morphology and function of dermal fibroblasts and provide a foundation for understanding specific mechanisms that link collagen fibril fragmentation to age-related decline of fibroblast function.
Project description:The dermal compartment of skin is primarily composed of collagen-rich extracellular matrix (ECM), which is produced by dermal fibroblasts. In Young skin, fibroblasts attach to the ECM through integrins. During ageing, fragmentation of the dermal ECM limits fibroblast attachment. This reduced attachment is associated with decreased collagen production, a major cause of skin thinning and fragility, in the elderly. Fibroblast attachment promotes assembly of the cellular actin cytoskeleton, which generates mechanical forces needed for structural support. The mechanism(s) linking reduced assembly of the actin cytoskeleton to decreased collagen production remains unclear. Here, we report that disassembly of the actin cytoskeleton results in impairment of TGF-? pathway, which controls collagen production, in dermal fibroblasts. Cytoskeleton disassembly rapidly down-regulates TGF-? type II receptor (T?RII) levels. This down-regulation leads to reduced activation of downstream effectors Smad2/Smad3 and CCN2, resulting in decreased collagen production. These responses are fully reversible; restoration of actin cytoskeleton assembly up-regulates T?RII, Smad2/Smad3, CCN2 and collagen expression. Finally, actin cytoskeleton-dependent reduction of T?RII is mediated by induction of microRNA 21, a potent inhibitor of T?RII protein expression. Our findings reveal a novel mechanism that links actin cytoskeleton assembly and collagen expression in dermal fibroblasts. This mechanism likely contributes to loss of T?RII and collagen production, which are observed in aged human skin.
Project description:Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a devastating disease affecting the skin and internal organs. Dermal fibrosis manifests early and Modified Rodnan Skin Scores (MRSS) correlate with disease progression. Transcriptomics of SSc skin biopsies suggest the role of the in vivo microenvironment in maintaining the pathological myofibroblasts. Therefore, defining the structural changes in dermal collagen in SSc patients could inform our understanding of fibrosis pathogenesis. Here, we report a method for quantitative whole-slide image analysis of dermal collagen from SSc patients, and our findings of more aligned dermal collagen bundles in diffuse cutaneous SSc (dcSSc) patients. Using the bleomycin-induced mouse model of SSc, we identified a distinct high dermal collagen bundle alignment gene signature, characterized by a concerted upregulation in cell migration, adhesion, and guidance pathways, and downregulation of spindle, replication, and cytokinesis pathways. Furthermore, increased bundle alignment induced a cell migration gene signature in fibroblasts in vitro, and these cells demonstrated increased directed migration on aligned ECM fibers that is dependent on expression of Arhgdib (Rho GDP-dissociation inhibitor 2). Our results indicate that increased cell migration is a cellular response to the increased collagen bundle alignment featured in fibrotic skin. Moreover, many of the cell migration genes identified in our study are shared with human SSc skin and may be new targets for therapeutic intervention.