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J Immunol. 2004 Feb 1;172(3):1945-52.

Ets-1 regulates TNF-alpha-induced matrix metalloproteinase-9 and tenascin expression in primary bronchial fibroblasts.

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Department of Medicine-Pulmonary and Critical Care Section, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53792, USA.


Increased subepithelial deposition of extracellular matrix proteins is a key feature in bronchial asthma. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is a proteolytic enzyme that degrades the extracellular matrix. Tenascin is an extracellular matrix glycoprotein that is abundant in thickened asthmatic subbasement membrane. The expression of MMP-9 and tenascin reflects disease activity in asthma and airway remodeling. The molecular mechanisms regulating the expression of these proteins remain unknown. Both MMP-9 and tenascin promoters contain an Ets binding site, suggesting control by Ets-1. Thus, we hypothesized that Ets-1 expression is increased in asthma and that it contributed to enhanced MMP-9 and tenascin expression. To test this hypothesis, we determined the expression of Ets-1 in bronchial biopsies obtained from asthmatic subjects and determined the expression of Ets-1, MMP-9, and tenascin by bronchial fibroblasts activated ex vivo. We observed that nuclear extracts from TNF-alpha-activated fibroblasts showed increased Ets-binding activity. In addition, TNF-alpha-activated fibroblasts had increased expression of Ets-1 mRNA and protein, which preceded an increase in MMP-9 and tenascin mRNA. Furthermore, treatment of fibroblasts with Ets-1 antisense oligonucleotides down-regulated TNF-alpha-induced Ets-1, MMP-9, and, to a lesser extent, tenascin protein expression or activity. Taken together, these data demonstrate that TNF-alpha increases MMP-9 and tenascin expression in bronchial fibroblasts via the transcription factor Ets-1, and suggest a role for Ets-1 in airway remodeling in asthma.

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