Experimental eye research

TGF-β2 promotes RPE cell invasion into a collagen gel by mediating urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) expression.

PMID 23810810


Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) is one of the main epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-inducing factors. In general, TGF-β-induced EMT promotes cell migration and invasion. TGF-β also acts as a potent regulator of pericellular proteolysis by regulating the expression and secretion of plasminogen activators. Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) is a serine protease that binds to its cell surface receptor (uPAR) with high affinity. uPA binding to uPAR stimulates uPAR's interaction with transmembrane proteins, such as integrins, to regulate cytoskeletal reorganization and cell migration, differentiation and proliferation. However, the influence of TGF-β and the uPA/uPAR system on EMT in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells is still unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of TGF-β2, which is the predominant isoform in the retina, and the uPA/uPAR system on RPE cells. In this study, we first examined the effect of TGF-β2 and/or the inhibitor of uPA (u-PA-STOP(®)) on the proliferation of a human retinal pigment epithelial cell line (ARPE-19 cells). Treatment with TGF-β2 or u-PA-STOP(®) suppressed cell proliferation. Combination treatment of TGF-β2 and u-PA-STOP(®) enhanced cell growth suppression. Furthermore, western blot analysis, fibrin zymography and real-time reverse transcription PCR showed that that TGF-β2 induced EMT in ARPE-19 cells and that the expression of uPA and uPAR expression was up-regulated during EMT. The TGF-β inhibitor SB431542 suppressed TGF-β2-stimulated uPA expression and secretion but did not suppress uPAR expression. Furthermore, we seeded ARPE-19 cells onto Transwell chambers and allowed them to invade the collagen matrix in the presence of TGF-β2 alone or with TGF-β2 and u-PA-STOP(®). TGF-β2 treatment induced ARPE-19 cell invasion into the collagen gel. Treatment with a combination of TGF-β2 and the uPA inhibitor strongly inhibited ARPE-19 cell invasion compared with treatment with TGF-β2 alone. Furthermore, the interaction between uPA and ARPE-19 cells was analyzed using a surface plasmon biosensor system. The binding of uPA to ARPE-19 cells was observed. In addition, TGF-β2 significantly promoted the binding activity of uPA to ARPE-19 cells in a time-dependent or cell-number-dependent fashion. These results indicate that TGF-β-induced EMT-associated phenotype changes in ARPE-19 cells and the invasiveness of ARPE-19 cells into a collagen gel matrix are mediated, at least in part, by uPA.