Actin cytoskeleton assembly regulates collagen production via TGF-? type II receptor in human skin fibroblasts.
ABSTRACT: 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:The structural integrity of human skin is largely dependent on the quality of the dermal extracellular matrix (ECM), which is produced, organized, and maintained by dermal fibroblasts. Normally, fibroblasts attach to the ECM and thereby achieve stretched, elongated morphology. A prominent characteristic of dermal fibroblasts in aged skin is reduced size, with decreased elongation and a more rounded, collapsed morphology. Here, we show that reduced size of fibroblasts in mechanically unrestrained three-dimensional collagen lattices coincides with reduced mechanical force, measured by atomic force microscopy. Reduced size/mechanical force specifically down-regulates TGF-? type II receptor (T?RII) and thus impairs TGF-?/Smad signaling pathway. Both T?RII mRNA and protein were decreased, resulting in 90% loss of TGF-? binding to fibroblasts. Down-regulation of T?RII was associated with significantly decreased phosphorylation, DNA-binding, and transcriptional activity of its key downstream effector Smad3 and reduced expression of Smad3-regulated essential ECM components type I collagen, fibronectin, and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2). Restoration of T?RII significantly increased TGF-? induction of Smad3 phosphorylation and stimulated expression of ECM components. Reduced expression of T?RII and ECM components in response to reduced fibroblast size/mechanical force was fully reversed by restoring size/mechanical force. Reduced fibroblast size was associated with reduced expression of T?RII and diminished ECM production, in aged human skin. Taken together, these data reveal a novel mechanism that provides a molecular basis for loss of dermal ECM, with concomitant increased fragility, which is a prominent feature of human skin aging.
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:Exposure to oxidants results in cellular alterations that are implicated in aging and age-associated diseases. Here, we report that brief, low-level oxidative exposure leads to long-term elevation of cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and oxidative damage in human skin fibroblasts. Elevated ROS impairs the transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) pathway, through reduction of type II TGF-? receptor (T?RII) and SMAD3 protein levels. This impairment results in reduced expression of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2) and type I collagen, which are regulated by TGF-?. Restoration of T?RII and SMAD3 together, but not separately, reinstates TGF-? signaling and increases CTGF/CCN2 and type I collagen levels. Treatment with the anti-oxidant N-acetylcysteine reduces ROS elevation and normalizes TGF-? signaling and target gene expression. These data reveal a novel linkage between limited oxidant exposure and altered cellular redox homeostasis that results in impairment of TGF-? signaling. This linkage provides new insights regarding the mechanism by which aberrant redox homeostasis is coupled to decline of collagen production, a hallmark of human skin aging.
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:TGFbeta induces fibrogenic responses in fibroblasts. Reactive oxygen species (ROS)/nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase (NOX) may contribute to fibrogenic responses. Here, we examine if the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC), the NOX inhibitor diphenyleneiodonium (DPI) and the selective NOX1/NOX4 inhibitor GKT-137831 impairs the ability of TGFbeta to induce profibrotic gene expression in human gingival (HGF) and dermal (HDF) fibroblasts. We also assess if GKT-137831 can block the persistent fibrotic phenotype of lesional scleroderma (SSc) fibroblasts. We use real-time polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analysis to evaluate whether NAC and DPI impair the ability of TGFbeta1 to induce expression of fibrogenic genes in fibroblasts. The effects of GKT-137831 on TGFbeta-induced protein expression and the persistent fibrotic phenotype of lesional scleroderma (SSc) fibroblasts were tested using Western blot and collagen gel contraction analyses. In HDF and HGF, TGFbeta1 induces CCN2, CCN1, endothelin-1 and alpha-smooth muscle actin (SMA) in a fashion sensitive to NAC. Induction of COL1A1 mRNA was unaffected. Similar results were seen with DPI. NAC and DPI impaired the ability of TGFbeta1 to induce protein expression of CCN2 and alpha-SMA in HDF and HGF. GKT-137831 impaired TGFbeta-induced CCN2 and alpha-SMA protein expression in HGF and HDF. In lesional SSc dermal fibroblasts, GKT-137831 reduced alpha-SMA and CCN2 protein overexpression and collagen gel contraction. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that antioxidants or NOX1/4 inhibition may be useful in blocking profibrotic effects of TGFbeta on dermal and gingival fibroblasts and warrant consideration for further development as potential antifibrotic agents.
Project description:Unlike skin, oral gingival do not scar in response to tissue injury. Fibroblasts, the cell type responsible for connective tissue repair and scarring, are exposed to mechanical tension during normal and pathological conditions including wound healing and fibrogenesis. Understanding how human gingival fibroblasts respond to mechanical tension is likely to yield valuable insights not only into gingival function but also into the molecular basis of scarless repair. CCN2/connective tissue growth factor is potently induced in fibroblasts during tissue repair and fibrogenesis. We subjected gingival fibroblasts to cyclical strain (up to 72 hours) using the Flexercell system and showed that CCN2 mRNA and protein was induced by strain. Strain caused the rapid activation of latent TGF?, in a fashion that was reduced by blebbistatin and FAK/src inhibition, and the induction of endothelin (ET-1) mRNA and protein expression. Strain did not cause induction of ?-smooth muscle actin or collagen type I mRNAs (proteins promoting scarring); but induced a cohort of pro-proliferative mRNAs and cell proliferation. Compared to dermal fibroblasts, gingival fibroblasts showed reduced ability to respond to TGF? by inducing fibrogenic mRNAs; addition of ET-1 rescued this phenotype. Pharmacological inhibition of the TGF? type I (ALK5) receptor, the endothelin A/B receptors and FAK/src significantly reduced the induction of CCN2 and pro-proliferative mRNAs and cell proliferation. Controlling TGF?, ET-1 and FAK/src activity may be useful in controlling responses to mechanical strain in the gingiva and may be of value in controlling fibroproliferative conditions such as gingival hyperplasia; controlling ET-1 may be of benefit in controlling scarring in response to injury in the skin.
Project description:Changes in mechanical properties are an essential characteristic of the aging process of human skin. Previous studies attribute these changes predominantly to the altered collagen and elastin organization and density of the extracellular matrix. Here, we show that individual dermal fibroblasts also exhibit a significant increase in stiffness during aging in vivo. With the laser-based optical cell stretcher we examined the viscoelastic biomechanics of dermal fibroblasts isolated from 14 human donors aged 27 to 80. Increasing age was clearly accompanied by a stiffening of the investigated cells. We found that fibroblasts from old donors exhibited an increase in rigidity of ?60% with respect to cells of the youngest donors. A FACS analysis of the content of the cytoskeletal polymers shows a shift from monomeric G-actin to polymerized, filamentous F-actin, but no significant changes in the vimentin and microtubule content. The rheological analysis of fibroblast-populated collagen gels demonstrates that cell stiffening directly results in altered viscoelastic properties of the collagen matrix. These results identify a new mechanism that may contribute to the age-related impairment of elastic properties in human skin. The altered mechanical behavior might influence cell functions involving the cytoskeleton, such as contractility, motility, and proliferation, which are essential for reorganization of the extracellular matrix.
Project description:The aim of the present study was to evaluate the impact of the microenvironment produced by dermal microvascular endothelial cells, secondary to a pro-inflammatory challenge, on 2D culture models using dermal fibroblasts and in 3D reconstructed skin model using dermal fibroblasts and keratinocytes from healthy donors. We hypothesized that specific microvascular endothelial low grade inflammation could change fibroblasts phenotype and be involved in extracellular matrix (ECM) modification and skin alteration. Following IFN?, TNF?, IL-1? pro-inflammatory stress on Human Dermal Endothelial Cells (HDMEC) we observed the increased release of Chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2), IL-6 and IL-8 but not VEGF-A in the conditioned medium (CM). The subsequent addition of this endothelial pro-inflammatory CM in dermal fibroblasts revealed an upregulation of <i>IL6</i>, <i>IL8</i> and <i>CCL2</i> but no <i>NF-?B</i> gene expression. The resulting ECM formation was impaired with a reduction of the collagen 1 network and a decrease in <i>COL1A1</i> gene expression in 2D and 3D models. Collagen 1 and pro-LOX protein expression were significantly reduced confirming an impairment of the collagen network related to endothelial inflammation secretion. To conclude, this work showed that, without any immune cells, the endothelial secretion in response to a pro-inflammatory stress is able to activate the fibroblasts that will maintain the pro-inflammatory environment and exacerbate ECM degradation.
Project description:The protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes human Chagas' disease, exerts a variety of effects on host extracellular matrix (ECM) including proteolytic degradation of collagens and dampening of ECM gene expression. Exposure of primary human dermal fibroblasts to live infective T. cruzi trypomastigotes or their shed/secreted products results in a rapid down-regulation of the fibrogenic genes collagenI?1, fibronectin and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2). Here we demonstrate the ability of a secreted/released T. cruzi factor to antagonize ctgf/ccn2 expression in dermal fibroblasts in response to TGF-ß, lysophosphatidic acid or serum, where agonist-induced phosphorylation of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases Erk1/2, p38 and JNK was also inhibited. Global analysis of gene expression in dermal fibroblasts identified a discrete subset of TGF-ß-inducible genes involved in cell proliferation, wound repair, and immune regulation that are inhibited by T. cruzi secreted/released factors, where the genes exhibiting the highest sensitivity to T. cruzi are known to be regulated by MAP kinase-activated transcription factors. Consistent with this observation, the Ets-family transcription factor binding site in the proximal promoter region of the ctgf/ccn2 gene (-91 bp to -84 bp) was shown to be required for T. cruzi-mediated down-regulation of ctgf/ccn2 reporter expression. The cumulative data suggest a model in which T. cruzi-derived molecules secreted/released early in the infective process dampen MAP kinase signaling and the activation of transcription factors that regulate expression of fibroblast genes involved in wound repair and tissue remodelling, including ctgf/ccn2. These findings have broader implications for local modulation of ECM synthesis/remodelling by T. cruzi during the early establishment of infection in the mammalian host and highlight the potential for pathogen-derived molecules to be exploited as tools to modulate the fibrogenic response.
Project description:Keloid and hypertrophic scars are skin fibrosis-associated disorders that exhibit an uncontrollable proliferation of fibroblasts and their subsequent contribution to the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) in the dermis. In this study, to elucidate the underlying mechanisms, we investigated the pivotal roles of epidermal growth factor (EGF) in modulating fibrotic phenotypes of keloid and hypertrophic dermal fibroblasts. Our initial findings revealed the molecular signatures of keloid dermal fibroblasts and showed the highest degree of skin fibrosis markers, ECM remodeling, anabolic collagen-cross-linking enzymes, such as lysyl oxidase (LOX) and four LOX-like family enzymes, migration ability, and cell-matrix traction force, at cell-matrix interfaces. Furthermore, we observed significant EGF-mediated downregulation of anabolic collagen-cross-linking enzymes, resulting in amelioration of fibrotic phenotypes and a decrease in cell motility measured according to the cell-matrix traction force. These findings offer insight into the important roles of EGF-mediated cell-matrix interactions at the cell-matrix interface, as well as ECM remodeling. Furthermore, the results suggest their contribution to the reduction of fibrotic phenotypes in keloid dermal fibroblasts, which could lead to the development of therapeutic modalities to prevent or reduce scar tissue formation.