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Tissue Eng Part A. 2013 Sep;19(17-18):1972-83. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2012.0568. Epub 2013 May 1.

The matrikine tenascin-C protects multipotential stromal cells/mesenchymal stem cells from death cytokines such as FasL.

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Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


Multipotential stromal cells/mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are attractive candidates for regenerative therapy due to the ability of these cells to differentiate and positively influence neighboring cells. However, on implantation for wound reconstruction, these cells are lost as they are challenged by nonspecific inflammation signals generated in the wound environment and in response to any implanted foreign body. We have previously shown that sustained and surface-restricted epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling by a tethered form of its prototypal ligand EGF enhances survival of MSC in the presence of death cytokines such as FasL, serum deprivation, and low oxygen in vitro. This was proposed to be due to the plasma membrane restriction of EGFR signaling. Interestingly, during wound repair, an extracellular matrix (ECM) component Tenascin-C (TNC) containing EGF-like repeats (EGFL) and fibronectin-like repeats (FNL) is upregulated. A few of the 14 EGFL on each of the 6 arms, especially the 14th, bind as low-affinity/high-avidity ligands to EGFR causing sustained surface-restricted EGFR signaling. We queried whether signaling by this physiologically relevant EGFR matrikine also protects MSCs from FasL-induced death. MSCs grown on TNC and Collagen I (as TNC by itself is antiadhesive) displayed a survival advantage in the presence of FasL. TNC neither sequestered nor neutralized FasL; rather, the effects of survival were via cell signaling. This survival was dependent on TNC activating EGFR and downstream pathways of Erk and Akt through EGFL; to a much lesser extent, the FNL of TNC also contributed to survival. Taken together, these results suggest that providing MSCs with a nonimmunogenic naturally occurring ECM moiety such as TNC enhances their survival in the presence of death factors, and this advantage occurs via signaling through EGFR primarily and integrins only to a minor extent. This matrix component is proposed to supplement MSC delivery on the scaffolds to provide a survival advantage against death upon in vivo implantation.

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