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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1999 Aug;40(9):1959-67.

Transforming growth factor(beta)-mediated corneal myofibroblast differentiation requires actin and fibronectin assembly.

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University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 75235, USA.



Recent studies indicate that transforming growth factor (TGF)beta is a potent inducer of corneal myofibroblast differentiation and expression of smooth muscle-specific, alpha-actin (alpha-SMA). Although TGFbeta is known to enhance synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins and receptors, little is known about how it modulates the expression of smooth muscle proteins in nonmuscle cells. The purpose of this study was to identify the role of Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD)-dependent tyrosine phosphorylation in regulating alpha-SMA gene expression and ultimately myofibroblast development.


Because cell culture in serum-containing media mimics myofibroblast transformation, all experiments were performed on freshly isolated rabbit keratocytes plated in defined, serum-free media. Cells were exposed to TGFbeta (1 ng/ml), Gly-Arg-Gly-Asp-D-Ser-Pro (GRGDdSP, 50 microM), Gly-Arg-AL-Asp-Ser-Pro (GRADSP; 100 microM), or herbimycin A (0.1-10 nM) at 24 hours (sparse) or 7 days (confluent). Cells were evaluated by immunocytochemistry and proteins and RNA collected for western and northern blot analyses using antibodies specific for alpha-SMA, fibronectin, focal adhesion proteins, and phosphotyrosine (clones 4G10 and PY20); and probes directed against rabbit alpha-SMA. All experiments were repeated at least three times.


Keratocytes exposed to TGFbeta showed expression of alpha-SMA that coincided with the intracellular reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton and the extracellular assembly of fibronectin fibrils. Addition of RGD containing but not control peptides blocked the organization of intracellular actin, extracellular fibronectin, and alpha-SMA protein and mRNA. Immunoprecipitation of cell proteins with 4G10 or PY20 identified the TGFbeta-associated tyrosine phosphorylation of paxillin, pp125fak, p130, PLCgamma, and tensin, which was blocked by addition of GRGDdSP. Addition of herbimycin A to keratocytes exposed to TGFbeta showed a dose-dependent loss of alpha-SMA protein and mRNA which correlated with loss of tyrosine phosphorylation, absence of actin reorganization, and fibronectin assembly.


The data suggest that TGFbeta-mediated alpha-SMA gene expression leading to myofibroblast transformation may involve an RGD-dependent phosphotyrosine signal transduction pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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