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Dev Cell. 2009 Jul;17(1):35-48. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2009.05.010.

Essential role of TGF-beta signaling in glucose-induced cell hypertrophy.

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Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, Programs in Cell Biology and Developmental Biology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


In multicellular organisms, cell size is tightly controlled by nutrients and growth factors. Increasing ambient glucose induces enhanced protein synthesis and cell size. Continued exposure of cells to high glucose in vivo, as apparent under pathological conditions, results in cell hypertrophy and tissue damage. We demonstrate that activation of TGF-beta signaling has a central role in glucose-induced cell hypertrophy in fibroblasts and epithelial cells. Blocking the kinase activity of the TbetaRI receptor or loss of its expression prevented the effects of high glucose on protein synthesis and cell size. Exposure of cells to high glucose induced a rapid increase in cell surface levels of the TbetaRI and TbetaRII receptors and a rapid activation of TGF-beta ligand by matrix metalloproteinases, including MMP-2 and MMP-9. The consequent autocrine TGF-beta signaling in response to glucose led to Akt-TOR pathway activation. Accordingly, preventing MMP-2/MMP-9 or TGF-beta-induced TOR activation inhibited high glucose-induced cell hypertrophy.

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