Publications by authors named "Margarete Goppelt-Struebe"

59 Publications

Author Correction: Non-professional phagocytosis: a general feature of normal tissue cells.

Sci Rep 2020 Jun 4;10(1):9345. Epub 2020 Jun 4.

Department of Radiation Oncology, University Clinic Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, 91054, Germany.

An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-65963-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7270104PMC
June 2020

Inhibition of oxygen-sensing prolyl hydroxylases increases lipid accumulation in human primary tubular epithelial cells without inducing ER stress.

Cell Tissue Res 2020 Jul 18;381(1):125-140. Epub 2020 Mar 18.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg and University Hospital Erlangen, Loschgestrasse 8, 91054, Erlangen, Germany.

The role of the hypoxia-inducible transcription factor (HIF) pathway in renal lipid metabolism is largely unknown. As HIF stabilizing prolyl hydroxylase (PHD) inhibitors are currently investigated in clinical trials for the treatment of renal anemia, we studied the effects of genetic deletion and pharmacological inhibition of PHDs on renal lipid metabolism in transgenic mice and human primary tubular epithelial cells (hPTEC). Tubular cell-specific deletion of HIF prolyl hydroxylase 2 (Phd2) increased the size of Oil Red-stained lipid droplets in mice. In hPTEC, the PHD inhibitors (PHDi) DMOG and ICA augmented lipid accumulation, which was visualized by Oil Red staining and assessed by microscopy and an infrared imaging system. PHDi-induced lipid accumulation required the exogenous availability of fatty acids and was observed in both proximal and distal hPTEC. PHDi treatment was not associated with structural features of cytotoxicity in contrast to treatment with the immunosuppressant cyclosporine A (CsA). PHDi and CsA differentially upregulated the expression of the lipid droplet-associated genes PLIN2, PLIN4 and HILPDA. Both PHDi and CsA activated AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) indicating the initiation of a metabolic stress response. However, only CsA triggered endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress as determined by the increased mRNA expression of multiple ER stress markers but CsA-induced ER stress was not linked to lipid accumulation. Our data raise the possibility that PHD inhibition may protect tubular cells from toxic free fatty acids by trapping them as triacylglycerides in lipid droplets. This mechanism might contribute to the renoprotective effects of PHDi in experimental kidney diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00441-020-03186-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7306052PMC
July 2020

Non-professional phagocytosis: a general feature of normal tissue cells.

Sci Rep 2019 08 15;9(1):11875. Epub 2019 Aug 15.

Department of Radiation Oncology, University Clinic Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, 91054, Germany.

Non-professional phagocytosis by cancer cells has been described for decades. Recently, non-professional phagocytosis by normal tissue cells has been reported, which prompted us to take a closer look at this phenomenon. Non-professional phagocytosis was studied by staining cultured cells with live-cell staining dyes or by staining paraffin-embedded tissues by immunohistochemistry. Here, we report that each of 21 normal tissue cell lines from seven different organs was capable of phagocytosis, including ex vivo cell cultures examined before the 3rd passage as well as the primary and virus-transformed cell lines. We extended our analysis to an in vivo setting, and we found the occurrence of non-professional phagocytosis in healthy skin biopsies immediately after resection. Using dystrophin immunohistochemistry for membrane staining, human post-infarction myocardial tissue was assessed. We found prominent signs of non-professional phagocytosis at the transition zone of healthy and infarcted myocardia. Taken together, our findings suggest that non-professional phagocytosis is a general feature of normal tissue cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-48370-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6695441PMC
August 2019

Mononuclear phagocytes orchestrate prolyl hydroxylase inhibition-mediated renoprotection in chronic tubulointerstitial nephritis.

Kidney Int 2019 08 5;96(2):378-396. Epub 2019 Mar 5.

Department of Internal Medicine 4-Nephrology and Hypertension, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany. Electronic address:

Prolyl hydroxylase domain enzyme inhibitors (PHDIs) stabilize hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs), and are protective in models of acute ischemic and inflammatory kidney disease. Whether PHDIs also confer protection in chronic inflammatory kidney disease models remains unknown. Here we investigated long-term effects of PHDI treatment in adenine-induced nephropathy as a model for chronic tubulointerstitial nephritis. After three weeks, renal dysfunction and tubulointerstitial damage, including proximal and distal tubular injury, tubular dilation and renal crystal deposition were significantly attenuated in PHDI-treated (the isoquinoline derivative ICA and Roxadustat) compared to vehicle-treated mice with adenine-induced nephropathy. Crystal-induced renal fibrosis was only partially diminished by treatment with ICA. Renoprotective effects of ICA treatment could not be attributed to changes in adenine metabolism or urinary excretion of the metabolite 2,8-dihydroxyadenine. ICA treatment reduced inflammatory infiltrates of F4/80+ mononuclear phagocytes in the kidneys and supported a regulatory, anti-inflammatory immune response. Furthermore, interstitial deposition of complement C1q was decreased in ICA-treated mice fed an adenine-enriched diet. Tubular cell-specific HIF-1α and myeloid cell-specific HIF-1α and HIF-2α expression were not required for the renoprotective effects of ICA. In contrast, depletion of mononuclear phagocytes with clodronate largely abolished the nephroprotective effects of PHD inhibition. Thus, our findings indicate novel and potent systemic anti-inflammatory properties of PHDIs that confer preservation of kidney function and structure in chronic tubulointerstitial inflammation and might counteract kidney disease progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.kint.2019.02.016DOI Listing
August 2019

Receptor-independent modulation of TGF-β-induced pro-fibrotic pathways by relaxin-2 in human primary tubular epithelial cells.

Cell Tissue Res 2018 Dec 4;374(3):619-627. Epub 2018 Aug 4.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Loschgestrasse 8, D-91054, Erlangen, Germany.

Renal tubular epithelial cells actively contribute to the development of renal fibrosis and may be targeted by anti-fibrotic drugs. Relaxin-2 (RLX2) applied as recombinant protein is suggested to be renoprotective. Therefore, we investigated whether human primary tubular epithelial cells (hPTEC) obtained from various donors were target cells for the anti-fibrotic actions of RLX2. Treatment of hPTEC with RLX2 reduced the TGF-β1-induced secretion of the pro-fibrotic factor CTGF (connective tissue growth factor) and inhibited fibronectin synthesis and secretion. Furthermore, metalloproteinase MMP2 secretion was increased, with no effect on MMP9. Considerable differences were observed between hPTEC obtained from different donors. Therefore, expression of the relaxin family peptide receptor RXFP1, the major mediator of renal RLX2 effects, was analyzed. A validated antibody detected a double band of 80-90 kDa in cellular homogenates by Western blotting. Expression of the detected protein was not altered by incubation with TGF-β1 and RLX2-induced modulation of CTGF expression did not correlate with the putative receptor expression. Therefore, relaxin family receptors RXFP1-4 were assessed by RNA-seq analysis. No evidence was found for mRNA expression of any of these receptors in several hPTEC preparations. Lack of RXFP1 mRNA was confirmed by qPCR using mRNA obtained from THP-1 cells as positive control. Our data thus provide evidence for primary renal human tubular epithelial cells as targets for the anti-fibrotic actions of RLX2. However, anti-fibrotic effects were observed at micromolar concentrations of RLX2 and shown to be independent of RXFP1 expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00441-018-2904-0DOI Listing
December 2018

HIF stabilization inhibits renal epithelial cell migration and is associated with cytoskeletal alterations.

Sci Rep 2018 06 22;8(1):9497. Epub 2018 Jun 22.

Institute of Pathology, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common and potentially lethal complication in the hospitalized patients, with hypoxic injury being as a major cause. The loss of renal tubular epithelial cells (TEC), one of the AKI hallmarks, is potentially followed by tubular regeneration process orchestrated by the remaining uninjured TECs that undergo proliferation and migration. In this study, we used human primary TEC to investigate the initiation of tubular cell migration and associated cytoskeletal alterations in response to pharmacological HIF stabilization which resembles the pathophysiology of hypoxia. Tubular cells have been shown to migrate as cohorts in a wound healing assay. Importantly, cells of distal tubular origin moved faster than those of proximal origin. HIF stabilization impaired TEC migration, which was confirmed by live single cell tracking. HIF stabilization significantly reduced tubular cell migration velocity and promoted cell spreading. In contrast to the control conditions, HIF stabilization induced actin filaments rearrangement and cell adhesion molecules including paxillin and focal adhesion kinase. Condensed bundling of keratin fibers was also observed, while the expression of different types of keratins, phosphorylation of keratin 18, and the microtubule structure were not altered. In summary, HIF stabilization reduced the ability of renal tubular cells to migrate and led to cytoskeleton reorganization. Our data suggested an important involvement of HIF stabilization during the epithelial migration underlying the mechanism of renal regeneration in response to AKI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-27918-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6015081PMC
June 2018

CTGF Is Expressed During Cystic Remodeling in the PKD/Mhm (cy/+) Rat Model for Autosomal-Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD).

J Histochem Cytochem 2017 12 23;65(12):743-755. Epub 2017 Oct 23.

Department of Nephrology, Medical Clinic III, University Hospital Frankfurt, Goethe-University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF, also named CCN2) plays an important role in the development of tubulointerstitial fibrosis, which most critically determines the progression to end-stage renal failure in autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), the most common genetically caused renal disease. We determined CTGF expression in a well-characterized animal model of human ADPKD, the PKD/Mhm (cy/+) rat. Kidneys of 12 weeks old (cy/+) as well as (+/+) non-affected rats were analyzed for CTGF RNA and protein expression by RT-PCR, Northern and Western blot analyses, in situ hybridization, and IHC. Besides the established expression of CTGF in glomerular cells in kidneys of wild-type (+/+) animals, in (cy/+) rats, CTGF mRNA and protein were robustly expressed in interstitial, stellate-shaped cells, located in a scattered pattern underlying the cystic epithelium and in focal areas of advanced tubulointerstitial remodeling. Renal CTGF mRNA and protein expression levels were significantly higher in (cy/+) rats compared with their (+/+) littermates. Detection of CTGF expression in cells adjacent to cystic epithelium and in areas of marked fibrosis suggests a role in the local response to cyst development and indicates that CTGF may be a relevant factor contributing to tubulointerstitial fibrosis in polycystic kidney disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1369/0022155417735513DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5714099PMC
December 2017

Multiple renal cancer susceptibility polymorphisms modulate the HIF pathway.

PLoS Genet 2017 Jul 17;13(7):e1006872. Epub 2017 Jul 17.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen und Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany.

Un-physiological activation of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) is an early event in most renal cell cancers (RCC) following inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor. Despite intense study, how this impinges on cancer development is incompletely understood. To test for the impact of genetic signals on this pathway, we aligned human RCC-susceptibility polymorphisms with genome-wide assays of HIF-binding and observed highly significant overlap. Allele-specific assays of HIF binding, chromatin conformation and gene expression together with eQTL analyses in human tumors were applied to mechanistic analysis of one such overlapping site at chromosome 12p12.1. This defined a novel stage-specific mechanism in which the risk polymorphism, rs12814794, directly creates a new HIF-binding site that mediates HIF-1α isoform specific upregulation of its target BHLHE41. The alignment of multiple sites in the HIF cis-acting apparatus with RCC-susceptibility polymorphisms strongly supports a causal model in which minor variation in this pathway exerts significant effects on RCC development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1006872DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5536434PMC
July 2017

Synergistic induction of CTGF by cytochalasin D and TGFβ-1 in primary human renal epithelial cells: Role of transcriptional regulators MKL1, YAP/TAZ and Smad2/3.

Cell Signal 2017 01 7;29:31-40. Epub 2016 Oct 7.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Loschgestrasse 8, D-91054 Erlangen, Germany. Electronic address:

Changes in cell morphology that involve alterations of the actin cytoskeleton are a hallmark of diseased renal tubular epithelial cells. While the impact of actin remodeling on gene expression has been analyzed in many model systems based on cell lines, this study investigated human primary tubular epithelial cells isolated from healthy parts of tumor nephrectomies. Latrunculin B (LatB) and cytochalasin D (CytoD) were used to modulate G-actin levels in a receptor-independent manner. Both compounds (at 0.5μM) profoundly altered F-actin structures in a Rho kinase-dependent manner, but only CytoD strongly induced the pro-fibrotic factor CTGF (connective tissue growth factor). CTGF induction was dependent on YAP as shown by transient downregulation experiments. However, CytoD did not alter the nuclear localization of either YAP or TAZ, whereas LatB reduced nuclear levels particularly of TAZ. CytoD modified MKL1, a coactivator of serum response factor (SRF) regulating CTGF induction, and promoted its nuclear localization. TGFβ-1 is one of the major factors involved in tubulointerstitial disease and an inducer of CTGF. Preincubation with CytoD but not LatB synergistically enhanced the TGFβ-1-stimulated synthesis of CTGF, both in cells cultured on plastic dishes as well as in polarized epithelial cells. CytoD had no direct effect on the phosphorylation of Smad2/3, but facilitated their phosphorylation and thus activation by TGFβ-1. Our present findings provide evidence that morphological alterations have a strong impact on cellular signaling of one of the major pro-fibrotic factors, TGFβ-1. However, our data also indicate that changes in cell morphology per se cannot predict those interactions which are critically dependent on molecular fine tuning of actin reorganization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cellsig.2016.10.002DOI Listing
January 2017

P2Y2R is a direct target of HIF-1α and mediates secretion-dependent cyst growth of renal cyst-forming epithelial cells.

Purinergic Signal 2016 12 26;12(4):687-695. Epub 2016 Aug 26.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Ulmenweg 18, 91054, Erlangen, Germany.

Polycystic kidney diseases are characterized by numerous renal cysts that continuously enlarge resulting in compression of intact nephrons and tissue hypoxia. Recently, we have shown that hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α promotes secretion-dependent cyst expansion, presumably by transcriptional regulation of proteins that are involved in calcium-activated chloride secretion. Here, we report that HIF-1α directly activates expression of the purinergic receptor P2Y2R in human primary renal tubular cells. In addition, we found that P2Y2R is highly expressed in cyst-lining cells of human ADPKD kidneys as well as PKD1 orthologous mouse kidneys. Knockdown of P2Y2R in renal collecting duct cells inhibited calcium-dependent chloride secretion in Ussing chamber analyses. In line with these findings, knockdown of P2Y2R retarded cyst expansion in vitro and prevented ATP- and HIF-1α-dependent cyst growth. In conclusion, P2Y2R mediates ATP-dependent cyst growth and is transcriptionally regulated by HIF-1α. These findings provide further mechanistic evidence on how hypoxia promotes cyst growth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11302-016-9532-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5124009PMC
December 2016

Inhibitors of oxygen sensing prolyl hydroxylases regulate nuclear localization of the transcription factors Smad2 and YAP/TAZ involved in CTGF synthesis.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2016 08 5;1863(8):2027-36. Epub 2016 May 5.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Loschgestr. 8, 91054 Erlangen, Germany. Electronic address:

Pharmacological inhibition of oxygen sensing prolyl hydroxylase domain enzymes (PHDs) has been shown to preserve renal structure and function in various models of kidney disease. Since transforming growth factor β-1 (TGFβ-1) is one of the major mediators of kidney injury, we investigated if inhibition of PHDs with subsequent stabilization of hypoxia inducible transcription factors (HIF) might interfere with TGFβ-1 signaling with special emphasis on its target gene connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). Overnight incubation of human renal tubular cells, primary cells and cell lines, with the PDH inhibitor DMOG increased Smad3 expression, but barely affected Smad2. Both Smads were translocated into the nucleus upon activation of the cells with TGFβ-1. Interestingly, Smad3 nuclear localization was enhanced upon pretreatment of the cells with DMOG for several hours, whereas nuclear Smad2 was reduced. This differential localization was independent of Smad2/3 phosphorylation. Reduced nuclear Smad2 correlated with impaired CTGF secretion in DMOG-treated cells and transient downregulation of Smad2 interfered with TGFβ-1-induced CTGF synthesis. Furthermore, YAP was confirmed as indispensable transcription factor involved in CTGF synthesis. Nuclear localization of YAP and TAZ was reduced in DMOG-treated cells. Our data thus provide evidence for DMOG-mediated reduction of CTGF expression by regulating the nuclear localization of the transcription factors Smad2, YAP and TAZ. Prolonged inhibition of PHDs was necessary to achieve alterations in cellular localization suggesting an indirect HIF-mediated effect. This mechanism might be extended to other transcription factors and target genes, and may thus represent a novel mechanism of negative regulation of gene expression by PHD inhibition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamcr.2016.05.001DOI Listing
August 2016

Mitoxantrone-loaded superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles as drug carriers for cancer therapy: Uptake and toxicity in primary human tubular epithelial cells.

Nanotoxicology 2016 15;10(5):557-66. Epub 2015 Oct 15.

b Department of Nephrology and Hypertension , Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg , Germany.

Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) are in use for many clinical diagnostic and experimental therapeutic applications, for example, for targeted drug delivery. To analyze the cellular responses to mitoxantrone-carrying SPIONs (SPION-MTO), and to the drug released from SPIONs, we used an in vitro system that allows comparison of primary human cells with different endocytotic capacities, namely, epithelial cells from proximal and distal parts of the nephron. SPIONs were selectively and rapidly internalized by proximal tubular cells with high endocytotic potential, but not by distal tubular cells. Uptake did not affect cell viability or morphology. In both cell types, free MTO (10-100 nM) induced double-strand DNA breaks and senescence, cell hypertrophy and reduced cell proliferation. However, cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion, cytoskeletal structures or polarity of the cells were not affected. Interestingly, a comparable response was also observed upon treatment with SPION-MTO and was independent of uptake of the particles. The effect of SPION-MTO on cells which did not internalize particles was primarily related to the release of MTO from drug-coated particles upon incubation in serum-containing cell growth medium. In conclusion, we show that whereas the uptake of SPIONs does not affect cellular functions or viability, the toxicity of drug-loaded SPIONs depends essentially on the type of drug bound to nanoparticles. Due to the relatively low systemic toxicity of MTO, the effects of MTO-SPIONs on human tubular cells were moderate, but they may become clinically relevant when more nephrotoxic drugs are bound to SPIONs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/17435390.2015.1095364DOI Listing
November 2016

Actin-mediated gene expression depends on RhoA and Rac1 signaling in proximal tubular epithelial cells.

PLoS One 2015 27;10(3):e0121589. Epub 2015 Mar 27.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany.

Morphological alterations of cells can lead to modulation of gene expression. An essential link is the MKL1-dependent activation of serum response factor (SRF), which translates changes in the ratio of G- and F-actin into mRNA transcription. SRF activation is only partially characterized in non-transformed epithelial cells. Therefore, the impact of GTPases of the Rho family and changes in F-actin structures were analyzed in renal proximal tubular epithelial cells. Activation of SRF signaling was compared to the regulation of a known MKL1/SRF target gene, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). In the human proximal tubular cell line HKC-8 overexpression of two actin mutants either favoring or preventing the formation of F-actin fibers regulated SRF-mediated transcription as well as CTGF expression. Only overexpression of constitutively active RhoA activated SRF-dependent gene expression whereas no effect was detected upon overexpression of Rac1 mutants. To elucidate the functional role of Rho kinases as downstream mediators of RhoA, pharmacological inhibition and genetic inhibition by transient siRNA knock down were compared. Upon stimulation with lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) Rho kinase inhibitors partially suppressed SRF-mediated transcription, whereas interference with Rho kinase expression by siRNA reduced activation of SRF, but barely affected CTGF expression. Together with the partial inhibition of CTGF expression by the pharmacological inhibitors Y27432 and H1154, Rho kinases seem to be less important in mediating RhoA signaling related to CTGF expression in HKC-8 epithelial cells. Short term pharmacological inhibition of Rac1 activity by EHT1864 reduced SRF-dependent CTGF expression in HKC-8 cells, but was overcome by a stimulatory effect after prolonged incubation after 4-6 h. Similarly, human primary cells of proximal but not of distal tubular origin showed inhibitory as well as stimulatory effects of Rac1 inhibition. Thus, RhoA signaling activates MKL1-SRF-mediated CTGF expression in proximal tubular cells, whereas Rac1 signaling is more complex with adaptive cellular responses.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0121589PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4376694PMC
March 2016

Dual inhibition of Src family kinases and Aurora kinases by SU6656 modulates CTGF (connective tissue growth factor) expression in an ERK-dependent manner.

Int J Biochem Cell Biol 2014 Jan 22;46:39-48. Epub 2013 Nov 22.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Loschgestrasse 8, D-91054 Erlangen, Germany. Electronic address:

Src kinases are regulators of the expression of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2), which plays a role in fibrotic injuries. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the potential of SU6656, a dual inhibitor of Src family and Aurora kinases, to interfere with the synthesis of this pro-fibrotic factor. SU6656 impaired TGF-β-mediated upregulation of CTGF mRNA and protein in proximal epithelial HKC-8 cells, and also reduced CTGF expression in cells exposed to autocrine growth factors. In association with the inhibition of Src family kinases and diminished focal adhesion kinase activity, adherence of the cells was reduced. Furthermore, SU6656 interfered with Aurora kinase activity resulting in inhibition of cell division and formation multilobular nuclei after 24h. Comparable alterations were observed in primary tubular cells. When cell division was inhibited by SU6656 or ZM447439, a specific inhibitor of Aurora kinases, CTGF levels were back to control or even increased after 48h. The activity of RhoA-Rho kinase and ERK signaling was analyzed to delineate the signaling pathways responsible for the biphasic regulation of CTGF. While Rho kinase was not significantly altered by SU6656, ERK activity was inhibited in the early phase and increased after 24-48h. ERK activity correlated with secreted CTGF. As ZM447439 increased ERK activity only after 48h, cellular reorganization is likely responsible for triggering the ERK-dependent upregulation of CTGF. Taken together, in non-transformed epithelial cells, SU6656 modulates the expression of the pro-fibrotic factor CTGF in a time-dependent manner by inhibition of Src kinases and Aurora kinases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocel.2013.11.014DOI Listing
January 2014

HIF-1α activation results in actin cytoskeleton reorganization and modulation of Rac-1 signaling in endothelial cells.

Cell Commun Signal 2013 Oct 21;11:80. Epub 2013 Oct 21.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Loschgestrasse 8, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.

Background: Hypoxia is a major driving force in vascularization and vascular remodeling. Pharmacological inhibition of prolyl hydroxylases (PHDs) leads to an oxygen-independent and long-lasting activation of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs). Whereas effects of HIF-stabilization on transcriptional responses have been thoroughly investigated in endothelial cells, the molecular details of cytoskeletal changes elicited by PHD-inhibition remain largely unknown. To investigate this important aspect of PHD-inhibition, we used a spheroid-on-matrix cell culture model.

Results: Microvascular endothelial cells (glEND.2) were organized into spheroids. Migration of cells from the spheroids was quantified and analyzed by immunocytochemistry. The PHD inhibitor dimethyloxalyl glycine (DMOG) induced F-actin stress fiber formation in migrating cells, but only weakly affected microvascular endothelial cells firmly attached in a monolayer. Compared to control spheroids, the residual spheroids were larger upon PHD inhibition and contained more cells with tight VE-cadherin positive cell-cell contacts. Morphological alterations were dependent on stabilization of HIF-1α and not HIF-2α as shown in cells with stable knockdown of HIF-α isoforms. DMOG-treated endothelial cells exhibited a reduction of immunoreactive Rac-1 at the migrating front, concomitant with a diminished Rac-1 activity, whereas total Rac-1 protein remained unchanged. Two chemically distinct Rac-1 inhibitors mimicked the effects of DMOG in terms of F-actin fiber formation and orientation, as well as stabilization of residual spheroids. Furthermore, phosphorylation of p21-activated kinase PAK downstream of Rac-1 was reduced by DMOG in a HIF-1α-dependent manner. Stabilization of cell-cell contacts associated with decreased Rac-1 activity was also confirmed in human umbilical vein endothelial cells.

Conclusions: Our data demonstrates that PHD inhibition induces HIF-1α-dependent cytoskeletal remodeling in endothelial cells, which is mediated essentially by a reduction in Rac-1 signaling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1478-811X-11-80DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3895861PMC
October 2013

Vectorial secretion of CTGF as a cell-type specific response to LPA and TGF-β in human tubular epithelial cells.

Cell Commun Signal 2012 Sep 2;10(1):25. Epub 2012 Sep 2.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Loschgestrasse 8, Erlangen 91054, Germany.

Unlabelled:

Background: Increased expression of the pro-fibrotic protein connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) has been detected in injured kidneys and elevated urinary levels of CTGF are discussed as prognostic marker of chronic kidney disease. There is evidence that epithelial cells lining the renal tubular system contribute to uptake and secretion of CTGF. However, the role of different types of tubular epithelial cells in these processes so far has not been addressed in primary cultures of human cells.

Results: Tubular epithelial cells of proximal and distal origin were isolated from human kidneys and cultured as polarized cells in insert wells. The pro-fibrotic stimuli lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) and transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) were used to induce CTGF secretion.LPA activated CTGF secretion in proximal tubular cells when applied from either the apical or the basolateral side as shown by immunocytochemistry. CTGF was secreted exclusively to the apical side. Signaling pathways activated by LPA included MAP kinase and Rho kinase signaling. TGF-β applied from either side also stimulated CTGF secretion primarily to the apical side with little basolateral release.Interestingly, TGF-β activation induced different signaling pathways depending on the side of TGF-β application. Smad signaling was almost exclusively activated from the basolateral side most prominently in cells of distal origin. Only part of these cells also synthesized CTGF indicating that Smad activation alone was not sufficient for CTGF induction. MAP kinases were involved in apical TGF-β-mediated activation of CTGF synthesis in proximal cells and a subset of epithelial cells of distal origin. This subpopulation of distal tubular cells was also able to internalize recombinant apical CTGF, in addition to proximal cells which were the main cells to take up exogenous CTGF.

Conclusions: Analysis of polarized human primary renal epithelial cells in a transwell system shows that vectorial secretion of the pro-fibrotic protein CTGF depends on the cell type, the stimulus and the signaling pathway activated. In all conditions, CTGF was secreted mainly to the apical side upon TGF-β and LPA treatment and therefore, likely contributes to increased urinary CTGF levels in vivo. Moreover, CTGF secreted basolaterally may be active as paracrine pro-fibrotic mediator.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1478-811X-10-25DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3503564PMC
September 2012

Distinct mesenchymal alterations in N-cadherin and E-cadherin positive primary renal epithelial cells.

PLoS One 2012 17;7(8):e43584. Epub 2012 Aug 17.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.

Background: Renal tubular epithelial cells of proximal and distal origin differ markedly in their physiological functions. Therefore, we hypothesized that they also differ in their capacity to undergo epithelial to mesenchymal alterations.

Results: We used cultures of freshly isolated primary human tubular cells. To distinguish cells of different tubular origin we took advantage of the fact that human proximal epithelial cells uniquely express N-cadherin instead of E-cadherin as major cell-cell adhesion molecule. To provoke mesenchymal alteration we treated these cocultures with TGF-β for up to 6 days. Within this time period, the morphology of distal tubular cells was barely altered. In contrast to tubular cell lines, E-cadherin was not down-regulated by TGF-β, even though TGF-β signal transduction was initiated as demonstrated by nuclear localization of Smad2/3. Analysis of transcription factors and miRNAs possibly involved in E-cadherin regulation revealed high levels of miRNAs of the miR200-family, which may contribute to the stability of E-cadherin expression in human distal tubular epithelial cells. By contrast, proximal tubular epithelial cells altered their phenotype when treated with TGF-β. They became elongated and formed three-dimensional structures. Rho-kinases were identified as modulators of TGF-β-induced morphological alterations. Non-specific inhibition of Rho-kinases resulted in stabilization of the epithelial phenotype, while partial effects were observed upon downregulation of Rho-kinase isoforms ROCK1 and ROCK2. The distinct reactivity of proximal and distal cells was retained when the cells were cultured as polarized cells.

Conclusions: Interference with Rho-kinase signaling provides a target to counteract TGF-β-mediated mesenchymal alterations of epithelial cells, particularly in proximal tubular epithelial cells. Furthermore, primary distal tubular cells differed from cell lines by their high phenotypic stability which included constant expression of E-cadherin. Our cell culture system of primary epithelial cells is thus suitable to understand and modulate cellular remodeling processes of distinct tubular cells relevant for human renal disease.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0043584PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3422254PMC
March 2013

A complex microdeletion 17q12 phenotype in a patient with recurrent de novo membranous nephropathy.

BMC Nephrol 2012 May 14;13:27. Epub 2012 May 14.

Department of Pediatrics, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany.

Background: Microdeletions on chromosome 17q12 cause of diverse spectrum of disorders and have only recently been identified as a rare cause of Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuester-Hauser-Syndrome (MRKH), which is characterized by uterus aplasia ± partial/complete vaginal aplasia in females with a regular karyotype. For the first time we report about a patient with a 17q12 microdeletion who is affected by MRKH in combination with a vascular and soft tissue disorder. Repeatedly she suffered from kidney transplant failure caused by consuming membranous nephropathy.

Case Presentation: A 38-year-old female patient had been diagnosed with right kidney aplasia, left kidney dysplasia and significantly impaired renal function during infancy. Aged 16 she had to start hemodialysis. Three years later she received her first kidney transplant. Only then she was diagnosed with MRKH. The kidney transplant was lost due to consuming nephrotic syndrome caused by de novo membranous nephropathy, as was a second kidney transplant years later. In addition, a hyperelasticity syndrome affects the patient with congenital joint laxity, kyphoscoliosis, bilateral hip dysplasia, persistent hypermobility of both elbows, knees and hips. Her clinical picture resembles a combination of traits of a hypermobile and a vascular form of Ehlers-Danlos-Syndrome, but no mutations in the COL3A1 gene was underlying. Instead, array-based comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) detected a heterozygous 1.43 Mb deletion on chromosome 17q12 encompassing the two renal developmental genes HNF1β and LHX1.

Conclusions: Deletions of HNF1β have recently drawn significant attention in pediatric nephrology as an important cause of prenatally hyperechogenic kidneys, renal aplasia and renal hypodysplasia. In contrast, membranous nephropathy represents an often-unaccounted cause of nephrotic syndrome in the adult population. A causative connection between theses two conditions has never been postulated, but is suggestive enough in this case to hypothesize it.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2369-13-27DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3412739PMC
May 2012

Inhibition of Rho kinases increases directional motility of microvascular endothelial cells.

Biochem Pharmacol 2012 Mar 16;83(5):616-26. Epub 2011 Dec 16.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Loschgestrasse 8, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.

Rho kinases are major regulators of actin cytoskeletal organization and cell motility. Depending on the model system, inhibitors of Rho kinases (ROCK) have been reported to increase or decrease endothelial cell migration. In the present study we investigated the effect of Rho kinase inhibitors on microvascular endothelial cell migration with a special focus on the isoform ROCK2. Migration of microvascular endothelial cells was analyzed in a wound-healing, a spheroid-on-collagen migration assay and in cells embedded in collagen-1 gels. The non-selective Rho kinase inhibitor H1152 was compared to the selective ROCK2 inhibitor SLX2119 and to siRNA knock down. Non-selective inhibition of Rho kinases decreased cell-spanning F-actin fibers, loosened cell-cell contacts visualized by VE cadherin staining, and reduced cell-matrix interactions as shown by reduced Hic-5 expression in focal contacts. Rho kinase inhibitors facilitated directed migration of endothelial cells away from spheroids on fibronectin-coated plates and in collagen-1 gels. By contrast, migration of firmly attached endothelial cells, resembling intact vessels, was not promoted by Rho kinase inhibition. Selective inhibition of ROCK2 mimicked the cytoskeletal effects of H1152 and also increased cell motility, although to a lesser extent. In summary, Rho kinase inhibition enhanced the migration and cytoskeletal restructuring preferentially in freshly attached endothelial cells. ROCK2 may be a potential target to manipulate endothelial cell migration after vessel injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2011.12.012DOI Listing
March 2012

Carotid plaque vulnerability: a positive feedback between hemodynamic and biochemical mechanisms.

Stroke 2011 Dec 13;42(12):3502-10. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

Laboratory of Molecular Cardiology, Department of Cardiology and Angiology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Schwabachanlage 10, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.

Background And Purpose: Rupture of atherosclerotic plaques is one of the main causes of ischemic strokes. The aim of this study was to investigate carotid plaque vulnerability markers in relation to blood flow direction and the mechanisms leading to plaque rupture at the upstream side of carotid stenoses.

Methods: Frequency and location of rupture, endothelial erosion, neovascularization, and hemorrhage were determined in longitudinal sections of 80 human carotid specimens. Plaques were immunohistochemically analyzed for markers of vulnerability. Plaque geometry was measured to reconstruct shape profiles of ruptured versus stable plaques and to perform computational fluid dynamics analyses.

Results: In 86% of ruptured plaques, rupture was observed upstream. In this region, neovascularization and hemorrhage were increased, along with increased immunoreactivity of vascular endothelial and connective tissue growth factor, whereas endothelial erosion was more frequent downstream. Proteolytic enzymes, mast cell chymase and cathepsin L, and the proapoptotic protein Bax showed significantly higher expression upstream as compared with the downstream shoulder of atherosclerotic lesions. Comparison of geometric profiles for ruptured and stable plaques showed increased longitudinal asymmetry of fibrous cap and lipid core thickness in ruptured plaques. The specific geometry of plaques ruptured upstream induced increased levels of shear stress and increased pressure drop between the upstream and the downstream plaque shoulders.

Conclusions: Vulnerability of the upstream plaque region is associated with enhanced neovascularization, hemorrhage, and cap thinning induced by proteolytic and proapoptotic mechanisms. These processes are reflected in structural plaque characteristics, analyses of which could improve the efficacy of vascular diagnostics and prevention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.627265DOI Listing
December 2011

Resveratrol inhibits monocytic cell chemotaxis to MCP-1 and prevents spontaneous endothelial cell migration through Rho kinase-dependent mechanism.

J Atheroscler Thromb 2011 31;18(12):1031-42. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Department of Cardiology and Angiology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.

Aim: Inflammatory cell recruitment and intimal neovascularization contribute to atherosclerotic plaque destabilization. The anti-inflammatory red wine polyphenol, resveratrol, has been implicated in cardiovascular protection. In this study, we investigated the effects of resveratrol on endothelial and monocytic cell migration.

Methods: Human umbilical vein endothelial cell (EC) migration was assessed in a modified barrier assay. Chemotaxis of THP-1 monocytic cells towards monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1 was determined using a Boyden chamber. Erk phosphorylation downstream of MCP-1 receptor and activation of myosin phosphatase targeting subunit 1 (pMYPT1) downstream of Rho kinase were determined by Western blotting.

Results: In resveratrol-treated cells, progressive shape elongation was observed, evident after 6h of treatment. Treatment with resveratrol (1-20 µmol/L) dose-dependently inhibited EC migration. This effect of resveratrol was independent of nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB and sirtuin 1, but was abrogated in the presence of Rho kinase inhibitors. Moreover, resveratrol induced pMYPT1 activation, indicating a novel mechanism of resveratrol activity in EC. In monocytic cells, treatment with resveratrol significantly inhibited chemotaxis towards MCP-1 already at 1 µmol/L. At a resveratrol concentration of 10 µmol/L, chemotaxis was reduced nearly to the negative control (unstimulated with MCP-1) levels. This effect was independent of NF-kappaB and RhoA signaling. In resveratrol treated monocytic cells, MCP-1-induced Erk phosphorylation downstream of CCR2 receptor was dose-dependently inhibited, as observed by Western blot analysis.

Conclusions: Resveratrol dose-dependently inhibited endothelial cell migration and MCP-1-induced monocytic cell chemotaxis. This activity may contribute to the cardioprotective effects of resveratrol by inhibition of intimal neovascularization and monocyte recruitment into the artery wall.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5551/jat.8136DOI Listing
April 2012

Lack of α8 integrin leads to morphological changes in renal mesangial cells, but not in vascular smooth muscle cells.

BMC Cell Biol 2010 Dec 31;11:102. Epub 2010 Dec 31.

Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Loschgestrasse 15, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.

Background: Extracellular matrix receptors of the integrin family are known to regulate cell adhesion, shape and functions. The α8 integrin chain is expressed in glomerular mesangial cells and in vascular smooth muscle cells. Mice deficient for α8 integrin have structural alterations in glomeruli but not in renal arteries. For this reason we hypothesized that mesangial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells differ in their respective capacity to compensate for the lack of α8 integrin.

Results: Wild type and α8 integrin-deficient mesangial cells varied markedly in cell morphology and expression or localization of cytoskeletal molecules. In α8 integrin-deficient mesangial cells α-smooth muscle actin and CTGF were downregulated. In contrast, there were no comparable differences between α8 integrin-deficient and wild type vascular smooth muscle cells. Expression patterns of integrins were altered in α8 integrin-deficient mesangial cells compared to wild type mesangial cells, displaying a prominent overexpression of α2 and α6 integrins, while expression patterns of the these integrins were not different between wild type and α8 integrin-deficient vascular smooth muscle cells, respectively. Cell proliferation was augmented in α8 integrin-deficient mesangial cells, but not in vascular smooth muscle cells, compared to wild type cells.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that α8 integrin deficiency has differential effects in mesangial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells. While the phenotype of vascular smooth muscle cells lacking α8 integrin is not altered, mesangial cells lacking α8 integrin differ considerably from wild type mesangial cells which might be a consequence of compensatory changes in the expression patterns of other integrins. This could result in glomerular changes in α8 integrin-deficient mice, while the vasculature is not affected in these mice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2121-11-102DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3022721PMC
December 2010

Analysis of matrix-dependent cell migration with a barrier migration assay.

Sci Signal 2010 Jun 15;3(126):pl1. Epub 2010 Jun 15.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, University Hospital Erlangen, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.

Cell migration plays a pivotal role in many biological processes and is modulated by cytokines and growth factors. In vivo, cells are embedded in an extracellular matrix (ECM). ECM proteins are linked to the cellular cytoskeleton by integrin adhesion receptors, which transmit extracellular signals into the cell, thereby affecting cell adhesion and migration as well as gene expression. We describe a cell migration assay that uses a barrier device to separate the cells. The assay enables quantification of the migration of adherent cells on defined matrix proteins and the ability to evaluate migration-associated characteristics of individual cells. Thus, the barrier cell migration assay is a useful tool for exploring matrix-dependent migration of adherent cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.3126pl1DOI Listing
June 2010

Linking cell structure to gene regulation: signaling events and expression controls on the model genes PAI-1 and CTGF.

Cell Signal 2010 Oct 2;22(10):1413-9. Epub 2010 Apr 2.

Center for Cell Biology and Cancer Research, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY 12208, United States.

The microtubule and microfilament cytoskeletal systems as well as cell-to-cell contacts and cell-matrix interactions are critical regulators of cell structure and function. Alterations in cell shape profoundly influence signaling events and gene expression programs that impact a spectrum of biological responses including cell growth, migration and apoptosis. These same pathways also contribute to the progression of several important pathologic conditions (e.g., arteriosclerosis, vascular fibrosis, and endothelial dysfunction). Indeed, hemodynamic forces in the vascular compartment are established modifiers of endothelial and smooth muscle cell cytoarchitecture and orchestrate complex genetic and biological responses in concert with contributions from the extracellular matrix (ECM), growth factors (e.g., EGF, and TGF-beta) and cell adhesion receptors (e.g., integrins, and cadherins). The profibrotic matricellular proteins plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) are prominent members of a subset of genes the expression of which is highly responsive to cell shape-altering stimuli (i.e., disruption of the actin-based and microtubule networks, shear strain and cyclic stretch). Since both PAI-1 and CTGF are major mediators of cardiovascular fibrotic disease, understanding cell structure-linked signaling cascades provides potential avenues for focused therapy. It is increasingly evident that growth factor receptors (EGFR) are activated by changes in cytoarchitecture and that the "repressive state" of certain signaling proteins (e.g., SMAD, and Rho-GEFs) is maintained by sequestration on cell structural networks. Functional repression can be relieved by cytoskeletal perturbations (e.g., in response to treatment with network-specific drugs) resulting in activation of signaling cascades (e.g., Rho, and MAPK) with associated changes in gene reprogramming. Recent studies document a complex network of both similar and unique signaling control elements leading to the induction of PAI-1 and CTGF in response to modifications in cell shape. The purpose of this review is to highlight our current understanding of "cell deformation"-responsive signaling cascades focusing on the potential value of targeting such pathways, and their model response genes (e.g., PAI-1, and CTGF), as a therapeutic option for the treatment of fibrotic diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cellsig.2010.03.020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903658PMC
October 2010

Hic-5 as a regulator of endothelial cell morphology and connective tissue growth factor gene expression.

J Mol Med (Berl) 2010 Jun 24;88(6):623-31. Epub 2010 Mar 24.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, University Hospital Erlangen, Loschgestrasse 8, 91054, Erlangen, Germany.

The functional role of the LIM-domain protein Hic-5 was investigated in microvascular endothelial cells using a siRNA approach. Knock down of Hic-5 reduced endothelial cell spreading and impaired structural organization of the cells on basement membrane extracts. Furthermore, Hic-5 was involved in the regulation of the multifunctional protein connective tissue growth factor (CTGF, CCN2). Upon Hic-5 down-regulation, induction of CTGF by lysophosphatidic acid or colchicine was reduced. Inhibition of CTGF expression was even more pronounced in cells treated with transforming growth factor beta and inhibitors of histone deacetylases. Treatment of endothelial cells with Hic-5 siRNA reduced CTGF promoter activity. Mutation analyses of the promoter revealed transcription factors binding to the basic control element as part of the proposed Hic-5-modulated transcription complex. Further analyses showed down-regulation of Hic-5 protein upon overnight treatment with inhibitors of histone deacetylases. These data suggest that the reduced expression of Hic-5 may contribute to the anti-angiogenic effects of histone deacetylase inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00109-010-0608-3DOI Listing
June 2010

Matrix-independent stimulation of human tubular epithelial cell migration by Rho kinase inhibitors.

J Cell Physiol 2010 Jun;223(3):703-12

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Medical Clinic 4, University Hospital of Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany.

Proximal tubular epithelial cells differ from other epithelial cells in the expression of N-cadherin as major adherens junction protein instead of E-cadherin. Migration of proximal epithelial cells (HKC-8) was analyzed by scratch wounding and by a barrier assay, which allowed determination of migration velocity on different extracellular matrices. Migration velocity was about threefold higher on fibronectin compared to collagen IV. The differential migration velocity was reflected by the orientation of F-actin stress fibers. TGF-beta activated secretion of fibronectin and thus increased migration on collagen IV, but did not further promote migration on fibronectin. Pharmacological inhibition of Rho kinases (ROCKs) by Y-27632, hydroxyfasudil and H-1152, or siRNA against ROCKs significantly increased migration velocity independently of the extracellular matrix. Cells at the migration front showed long filopodia, which could not be mimicked by overexpression of consitutively active Cdc42, indicative of a more complex regulation of F-actin structures. N-cadherin was reorganized from tight zipper-like structures into loosened cell-cell contacts upon incubation with Y-27632, but HKC-8 cells still migrated as cohort. Migration through single cell pores in a modified Boyden chamber assay was also stimulated by ROCK inhibitors. ROCK inhibitors enhanced migration of primary cultures of renal tubular cells which consisted of proximal and distal tubular cells expressing N-cadherin and E-cadherin, respectively. There was no indication of a switch in cadherin expression in these cells or a preferential migration of N-cadherin expressing cells. Pharmacologic inhibition of ROCKs may thus favor repair processes in renal tubules by increasing the migratory capacity of tubular epithelial cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcp.22079DOI Listing
June 2010

Differential regulation of connective tissue growth factor in renal cells by histone deacetylase inhibitors.

J Cell Mol Med 2009 Aug;13(8B):2353-64

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany.

Regulation of the profibrotic and angiogenesis modulating cytokine connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) occurs primarily at the transcriptional level. Therefore, we hypothesized that histone deacetylating enzymes (HDAC), which modulate the accessibility of transcriptionally active promoter regions, might play a role in the regulation of CTGF gene expression. We analyzed microvascular endothelial cells, which showed immunoreactivity for acetylated histone in kidney sections, and compared them with renal tubular epithelial cells. Treatment of cultured endothelial cells with different HDAC inhibitors up-regulated CTGF mRNA and protein. Pre-treatment with HDAC inhibitors facilitated induction of CTGF by transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) or lysophosphatidic acid. Transcription factors of the FoxO family were involved in the up-regulation of CTGF as shown at protein level and by reporter gene analyses. In tubular epithelial cells, up-regulation of CTGF was only observed when these cells were cultured as subconfluent cells. Dense cells, which are more likely to resemble tubular cells in vivo, showed no up-regulation upon treatment with HDAC inhibitors and were protected against CTGF induction by TGF-beta. Taken together, our data indicate that the effect of HDAC inhibitors on CTGF expression is largely cell dependent in non-tumour cells. Different cell type-specific transcription factors seem to determine whether CTGF expression is reduced or increased in cells exposed to HDAC inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1582-4934.2009.00674.xDOI Listing
August 2009

Characterization of connective tissue growth factor expression in primary cultures of human tubular epithelial cells: modulation by hypoxia.

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 2010 Mar 23;298(3):F796-806. Epub 2009 Dec 23.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, University Hospital of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.

Tubular epithelial cells secrete connective tissue growth factor (CTGF, CCN2), which contributes to tubulointerstitial fibrosis. However, the molecular regulation of CTGF in human primary tubular epithelial cells (hPTECs) is not well defined. Therefore, CTGF expression was characterized in hPTECs isolated from healthy parts of tumor nephrectomies, with special emphasis on the regulation by transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and hypoxia, essential factors in the development of fibrosis. CTGF synthesis was strongly dependent on cell density. High CTGF levels were detected in sparse cells, whereas CTGF expression was reduced in confluent cells. Concomitantly, stimulation of CTGF by TGF-beta or the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin was prevented in dense cells. Exposure of hPTECs to low oxygen tension (1% O2) or the hypoxia mimetic dimethyl-oxalylglycine for 24 h reduced CTGF gene expression in most of the 17 preparations analyzed. Preincubation of the cells under hypoxic conditions significantly reduced TGF-beta-mediated upregulation of CTGF. In line with these data, CTGF mRNA was only induced in interstitial cells, but not in tubular cells in kidneys of mice exposed to hypoxia. Longer exposure to hypoxia or TGF-beta (up to 72 h) did not induce hPTECs to adopt a mesenchymal phenotype characterized by upregulation of alpha-smooth muscle actin, downregulation of E-cadherin, or increased sensitivity of the cells in terms of CTGF expression. Sensitivity was restored by inhibition of DNA methylation. Taken together, our data provide evidence that exposure to hypoxia decreased CTGF gene expression. Furthermore, hypoxia per se was not sufficient to induce a mesenchymal phenotype in primary tubular epithelial cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajprenal.00528.2009DOI Listing
March 2010

The lysyl oxidases LOX and LOXL2 are necessary and sufficient to repress E-cadherin in hypoxia: insights into cellular transformation processes mediated by HIF-1.

J Biol Chem 2010 Feb 21;285(9):6658-69. Epub 2009 Dec 21.

Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.

Hypoxia has been shown to promote tumor metastasis and lead to therapy resistance. Recent work has demonstrated that hypoxia represses E-cadherin expression, a hallmark of epithelial to mesenchymal transition, which is believed to amplify tumor aggressiveness. The molecular mechanism of E-cadherin repression is unknown, yet lysyl oxidases have been implicated to be involved. Gene expression of lysyl oxidase (LOX) and the related LOX-like 2 (LOXL2) is strongly induced by hypoxia. In addition to the previously demonstrated LOX, we characterize LOXL2 as a direct transcriptional target of HIF-1. We demonstrate that activation of lysyl oxidases is required and sufficient for hypoxic repression of E-cadherin, which mediates cellular transformation and takes effect in cellular invasion assays. Our data support a molecular pathway from hypoxia to cellular transformation. It includes up-regulation of HIF and subsequent transcriptional induction of LOX and LOXL2, which repress E-cadherin and induce epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Lysyl oxidases could be an attractive molecular target for cancers of epithelial origin, in particular because they are partly extracellular.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M109.042424DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2825461PMC
February 2010

FoxO proteins mediate hypoxic induction of connective tissue growth factor in endothelial cells.

J Biol Chem 2010 Feb 16;285(7):4328-36. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia 30912.

Hypoxia, a driving force in neovascularization, promotes alterations in gene expression mediated by hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1alpha. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF, CCN2) is a modulator of endothelial cell growth and migration, but its regulation by hypoxia is poorly understood. Therefore, we analyzed signaling pathways involved in the regulation of CTGF by hypoxia in endothelial cells. Exposure to low oxygen tension or treatment with the hypoxia-mimetic dimethyloxalyl glycine (DMOG) stabilized HIF-1alpha and up-regulated CTGF in human umbilical vein endothelial cells and in a murine microvascular endothelial cell line. Induction of CTGF correlated with a HIF-dependent increase in protein and mRNA levels, and nuclear accumulation of the transcription factor FoxO3a. By contrast, gene expression and cellular localization of FoxO1 were not significantly altered by hypoxia. Expression of CTGF was strongly reduced by siRNA silencing of FoxO1 or FoxO3a. Furthermore, nuclear exclusion of FoxO1/3a transcription factors by inhibition of serine/threonine protein phosphatases by okadaic acid inhibited CTGF expression, providing evidence for both FoxO proteins as regulators of CTGF expression. The DMOG-stimulated induction of CTGF was further increased when endothelial cells were co-incubated with transforming growth factor-beta, an activator of Smad signaling. Activation of RhoA-Rho kinase signaling by the microtubule-disrupting drug combretastatin A4 also enhanced the DMOG-induced CTGF expression, thus placing CTGF induction by hypoxia in a network of interacting signaling pathways. Our findings provide evidence that FoxO1, hypoxia-stimulated expression of FoxO3a and its nuclear accumulation are required for the induction of CTGF by hypoxia in endothelial cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M109.049650DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836037PMC
February 2010