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Exp Cell Res. 2006 Feb 1;312(3):205-14. Epub 2005 Dec 2.

Multiple roles of alpha-smooth muscle actin in mechanotransduction.

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CIHR Group in Matrix Dynamics Faculty of Dentistry, Room 244, Fitzgerald Building, University of Toronto, 150 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3E2.


Alpha-smooth muscle actin (SMA), an actin isoform that contributes to cell-generated mechanical tension, is normally restricted to cells of vascular smooth muscle, but SMA can also be expressed in certain non-muscle cells, most notably myofibroblasts. These cells are present in healing wounds, scars, and fibrocontractive lesions where they contribute to fibrosis. In myofibroblasts, cell-generated traction forces associated with SMA contribute to matrix remodeling, but exogenous mechanical forces can also increase SMA expression. Force-induced SMA utilizes a feed-forward amplification loop involving a priori SMA in focal adhesions, the binding of the p38 MAP kinase to SMA filaments, activation of Rho and binding of serum response factor to the CArG-B box of the SMA promoter. Thus, in addition to its importance as a structural protein in tissue remodeling and contraction, SMA may serve as a mechanotransducer, based on its ability to physically link mechanosensory elements and to enhance its own, force-induced expression.

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