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J Cell Biol. 2007 Oct 8;179(1):33-40.

Cells migrating to sites of tissue damage in response to the danger signal HMGB1 require NF-kappaB activation.

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  • 1Chromatin Dynamics Unit, Stem Cell Research Institute, Istituto Scientifico San Raffaele, 20132 Milan, Italy.


Tissue damage is usually followed by healing, as both differentiated and stem cells migrate to replace dead or damaged cells. Mesoangioblasts (vessel-associated stem cells that can repair muscles) and fibroblasts migrate toward soluble factors released by damaged tissue. Two such factors are high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), a nuclear protein that is released by cells undergoing unscheduled death (necrosis) but not by apoptotic cells, and stromal derived factor (SDF)-1/CXCL12. We find that HMGB1 activates the canonical nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) pathway via extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation. NF-kappaB signaling is necessary for chemotaxis toward HMGB1 and SDF-1/CXCL12, but not toward growth factor platelet-derived growth factor, formyl-met-leu-phe (a peptide that mimics bacterial invasion), or the archetypal NF-kappaB-activating signal tumor necrosis factor alpha. In dystrophic mice, mesoangioblasts injected into the general circulation ingress inefficiently into muscles if their NF-kappaB signaling pathway is disabled. These findings suggest that NF-kappaB signaling controls tissue regeneration in addition to early events in inflammation.

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