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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31713

Title: Role of the Actin Cytoskeleton in Pro-fibrotic Signaling
Authors: Chan, Matthew W. C.
Advisor: McCulloch, Christopher
Department: Dentistry
Keywords: fibrosis
actin cytoskeleton
Issue Date: 5-Jan-2012
Abstract: The development of fibrosis involves disruption of connective tissue homeostasis that may include inhibition of collagen remodeling pathways such as phagocytosis, as well as the differentiation of myofibroblasts, pro-fibrotic cells. Myofibroblast differentiation is dependent on actin assembly, which can alter cell shape and is required for collagen phagocytosis and remodeling. Cyclosporin A (CsA) is a commonly used drug for prevention of organ transplant rejection that causes marked fibrosis in periodontal tissues by inhibiting collagen phagocytosis. As gelsolin is a Ca2+-dependent actin severing protein that mediates collagen phagocytosis, I determined whether gelsolin is a CsA target. Compared to vehicle-treated controls, CsA-treatment of wild-type mice increased collagen accumulation by 60% in periodontal tissues; equivalent increases were seen in vehicle-treated gelsolin-null mice. From a series of in vitro experiments, I conclude that CsA-induced accumulation of collagen in the periodontal ECM involves disruption of the actin severing properties of gelsolin. This disruption inhibits the binding step of collagen phagocytosis and promotes fibrosis. During the development of pressure-induced cardiac hypertrophy, collagen accumulates in the interstitium, due to myofibroblasts which express alpha-smooth muscle actin (SMA). As focal adhesion complexes are putative mechanosensing organelles, I examined the role of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and its interaction with gelsolin, in the regulation of SMA expression. After application of mechanical force to cultured fibroblasts through collagen-coated magnetite beads attached to beta1 integrins, FAK and gelsolin were recruited to beads and there was increased nuclear translocation of MRTF-A, a transcriptional co-activator of SMA. These data suggested a novel pathway in which mechanosensing by FAK regulates actin assembly through gelsolin; actin assembly in turn controls SMA expression through MRTF-A. I also examined a potential role for the actin nucleators, mammalian Diaphanous-related formins (mDia), in the mechanosensing pathway that leads to force-induced expression of SMA. siRNA knockdown of mDia inhibited actin assembly at force-induced focal adhesions. In anchored collagen gels to model myofibroblast-mediated contraction of the matrix, mDia knockdown reduced contraction by 50%. Collectively, these experiments indicate that the regulation of actin assembly plays an important role in the development of force-induced transcriptional activation of SMA, myofibroblast differentiation and collagen phagocytosis.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31713
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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