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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2005 Jun;288(6):H3001-5. Epub 2005 Feb 4.

Podosome-mediated matrix resorption and cell motility in vascular smooth muscle cells.

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Consorzio Mario Negri Sud, Dept. of Cell Biology and Oncology, Unit of Actin Cytoskeleton Regulation, Via Nazionale 8a, I-66030 Santa Maria Imbaro, Italy.


The migration of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) is a principal factor for the development and progression of vascular diseases. In addition, phenotypic alteration from the contractile (differentiated) to the synthetic (dedifferentiated) state and a proteolytic process in the form of extra cellular matrix degradation are necessary for SMC invasion. The actual mechanism leading to the focal degradation of basement membrane matrix components and, hence, SMC migration within the tissue itself is, however, unclear. In response to phorbol ester [phorbol-12,13-dibutyrate (PDBu)], VSMCs in culture form podosomes, dynamic organelles critical for cell adhesion and substrate degradation that are typically found in invasive cells and cells that cross tissue boundaries. Here, we show that PDBu-stimulated VSMCs resorb the extracellular matrix at the sites of podosomes. Podosome formation correlates with an increased polarization of VSMCs on fibronectin- or collagen-coated flexible substrates in addition to a concomitant induction of cell motility. VSMCs embedded in reconstituted basement membrane support adopt the typical spindle-shaped morphology of differentiated SMCs in vivo and, after PDBu treatment, form peripheral lamellipodia and podosomes around their matrix-contacting surface. Our findings demonstrate that podosome formation is the potential mechanism underlying the ability of VSMCs to traverse the surrounding basement membrane and escape the barrier of the tunica media in vascular diseases.

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