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Exp Cell Res. 2012 Apr 1;318(6):716-22. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2012.01.020. Epub 2012 Jan 28.

Epithelial cells utilize cortical actin/myosin to activate latent TGF-β through integrin α(v)β(6)-dependent physical force.

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  • 1Lung Biology Center, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGF-β) is involved in regulating many biological processes and disease states. Cells secrete cytokine as a latent complex that must be activated for it to exert its biological functions. We previously discovered that the epithelial-restricted integrin α(v)β(6) activates TGF-β and that this process is important in a number of in vivo models of disease. Here, we show that agonists of G-protein coupled receptors (Sphingosine-1-Phosphate and Lysophosphatidic Acid) which are ligated under conditions of epithelial injury directly stimulate primary airway epithelial cells to activate latent TGF-β through a pathway that involves Rho Kinase, non-muscle myosin, the α(v)β(6) integrin, and the generation of mechanical tension. Interestingly, lung epithelial cells appear to exert force on latent TGF-β using sub-cortical actin/myosin rather than the stress fibers utilized by fibroblasts and other traditionally "contractile" cells. These findings extend recent evidence suggesting TGF-β can be activated by integrin-mediated mechanical force and suggest that this mechanism is important for an integrin (α(v)β(6)) and a cell type (epithelial cells) that have important roles in biologically relevant TGF-β activation in vivo.

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