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Wound Repair Regen. 2013 Jan-Feb;21(1):166-76. doi: 10.1111/wrr.12001. Epub 2012 Dec 18.

Whole animal knockout of smooth muscle alpha-actin does not alter excisional wound healing or the fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transition.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104, USA. james-tomasek@ouhsc.edu

Abstract

The contractile phenotype and function of myofibroblasts have been proposed to play a critical role in wound closure. It has been hypothesized that smooth muscle α-actin expressed in myofibroblasts is critical for its formation and function. We have used smooth muscle α-actin-null mice to test this hypothesis. Full-thickness excisional wounds closed at a similar rate in smooth muscle α-actin-null and wild-type mice. In addition, fibroblasts in smooth muscle α-actin-null granulation tissue when immunostained with a monoclonal antibody that recognizes all muscle actin isoforms exhibited a myofibroblast-like distribution and a stress fiber-like pattern, showing that these cells acquired the myofibroblast phenotype. Dermal fibroblasts from smooth muscle α-actin-null and wild-type mice formed stress fibers and supermature focal adhesions, and generated similar amounts of contractile force in response to transforming growth factor-β1. Smooth muscle γ-actin and skeletal muscle α-actin were expressed in smooth muscle α-actin-null myofibroblasts, as shown by immunostaining, real-time polymerase chain reaction, and mass spectrometry. These results show that smooth muscle α-actin is not necessary for myofibroblast formation and function and for wound closure, and that smooth muscle γ-actin and skeletal muscle α-actin may be able to functionally compensate for the lack of smooth muscle α-actin in myofibroblasts.

© 2012 by the Wound Healing Society.

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