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αII-spectrin and βII-spectrin do not affect TGFβ1-induced myofibroblast differentiation.

Cell and tissue research (2018-05-05)
Bram Piersma, Olaf Y Wouters, Ruud A Bank

Mechanosensing of fibroblasts plays a key role in the development of fibrosis. So far, no effective treatments are available to treat this devastating disorder. Spectrins regulate cell morphology and are potential mechanosensors in a variety of non-erythroid cells, but little is known about the role of spectrins in fibroblasts. We investigate whether αII- and βII-spectrin are required for the phenotypic properties of adult human dermal (myo)fibroblasts. Knockdown of αII- or βII-spectrin in fibroblasts did not affect cell adhesion, cell size and YAP nuclear/cytosolic localization. We further investigated whether αII- and βII-spectrin play a role in the phenotypical switch from fibroblasts to myofibroblasts under the influence of the pro-fibrotic cytokine TGFβ1. Knockdown of spectrins did not affect myofibroblast formation, nor did we observe changes in the organization of αSMA stress fibers. Focal adhesion assembly was unaffected by spectrin deficiency, as was collagen type I mRNA expression and protein deposition. Wound closure was unaffected as well, showing that important functional properties of myofibroblasts are unchanged without αII- or βII-spectrin. In fact, fibroblasts stimulated with TGFβ1 demonstrated significantly lower endogenous mRNA levels of αII- and βII-spectrin. Taken together, despite the diverse roles of spectrins in a variety of other cells, αII- and βII-spectrin do not regulate cell adhesion, cell size and YAP localization in human dermal fibroblasts and are not required for the dermal myofibroblast phenotypical switch.

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