BMC pulmonary medicine

Plakoglobin expression in fibroblasts and its role in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

PMID 26545977


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is an interstitial fibrotic lung disease of unknown origin and without effective therapy characterized by deposition of extracellular matrix by activated fibroblasts in the lung. Fibroblast activation in IPF is associated with Wnt/β-catenin signaling, but little is known about the role of the β-catenin-homologous desmosomal protein, plakoglobin (PG), in IPF. The objective of this study was to assess the functional role of PG in human lung fibroblasts in IPF. Human lung fibroblasts from normal or IPF patients were transfected with siRNA targeting PG and used to assess cellular adhesion to a fibronectin substrate, apoptosis and proliferation. Statistical analysis was performed using Student's t-test with Mann-Whitney post-hoc analyses and results were considered significant when p < 0.05. We found that IPF lung fibroblasts expressed less PG protein than control fibroblasts, but that characteristic fibroblast phenotypes (adhesion, proliferation, and apoptosis) were not controlled by PG expression. Consistent with this, normal fibroblasts in which PG was silenced displayed no change in functional phenotype. We conclude that diminished PG levels in IPF lung fibroblasts do not directly affect certain phenotypic behaviors. Further study is needed to identify the functional consequences of decreased PG in these cells.