Role of Smad2/3 and p38 MAP kinase in TGF-β1-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition of pulmonary epithelial cells.J Cell Physiol. 2011 May; 226(5):1248-54.JC
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is characterized by myofibroblast accumulation, extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling, and excessive collagen deposition. ECM-producing myofibroblasts may originate from epithelial cells through epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). TGF-β1 is an inducer of EMT in pulmonary epithelial cells in vitro and in vivo, though the mechanisms are unclear. We hypothesized that TGF-β1 induced EMT through Smad-dependent and -independent processes. To test this hypothesis, we studied the roles and mechanisms of TGF-β1-induced Smad and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling in EMT-related changes in pulmonary epithelial cells. Exposure of pulmonary epithelial 1HAEo(-) cells to TGF-β1 resulted in morphological and molecular changes of EMT over a 96-h period; loss of cell-cell contact, cell elongation, down-regulation of E-cadherin, up-regulation of fibronectin, and up-regulation of collagen I. Both Smad2/3 and p38 MAPK signaling pathways were activated by TGF-β1. However, neither Smad2/3 nor p38 MAPK were required for the down-regulation of E-cadherin, yet p38 MAPK was associated with fibronectin up-regulation. Both Smad2/3 and p38 MAPK had a role in regulation of TGF-β1-induced collagen expression. Furthermore, these data demonstrate that Smads and p38 MAPK differentially regulate EMT-related changes in pulmonary epithelial cells.