Role of von Hippel-Lindau protein in fibroblast proliferation and fibrosis

Zhou Q, etc
FASEB Journal, 2011

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is characterized by exaggerated fibroblast proliferation and accumulation of collagens and fibronectin. The extracellular fibronectin and collagen network is regulated by von Hippel-Lindau protein (pVHL). However, it is unknown whether pVHL contributes to pulmonary fibrosis. We found that lungs from patients with IPF expressed increased levels of pVHL in fibroblastic foci. Bleomycin treatment also induced pVHL in lung fibroblasts, but not in alveolar type II cells. Overexpression of pVHL increased lung fibroblast proliferation, protein abundance of fibronectin and collagen, and extracellular fibronectin. In addition, overexpression of pVHL induced expression of the a5 integrin subunit. Overexpression of pVHL did not alter hypoxia-inducible factor luciferase reporter activity and mRNA expression of vascular endothelial growth factor. Fibroblasts overexpressing pVHL were more sensitive to RGD peptide-mediated reduction in proliferation. Activating a5 and ß1 integrin increased proliferation of fibroblasts overexpressing pVHL and those cells were more resistant to the inhibition of a5 integrin. Overexpression of pVHL also increased activation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK). Moreover, suppression of pVHL prevented TGF-ß1-induced proliferation of mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Taken together, our results indicate that elevated expression of pVHL results in the aberrant fibronectin expression, activation of integrin/FAK signaling, fibroblast proliferation, and fibrosis.

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FASEB Journal
doi: 10.1096/fj.10-177824