Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4 inhibits TGF-beta2 Stimulation of Extracellular Matrix Proteins in Optic Nerve Head Cells: Role of Gremlin in ECM Modulation
Zode, Gulab Shalikram
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Zode, Gulab Shalikram, Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4 Inhibits TGF-β2 Stimulation of Extracellular Matrix Proteins in Optic Nerve Head Cells: Role of Gremlin in ECM Modulation . Doctor of Philosophy (Cell Biology and Genetics), May 2008; 177pp; 34 figures; bibliography, 192 titles. The glaucomatous neuropathy is caused by irreversible loss of retinal ganglion axons in the optic nerve head (ONH). The extensive remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the glaucomatous ONH including increased synthesis and deposition of ECM (increased collagens, basement proteins, and elastin) is associated with loss of axons. Transforming growth factor-beta2 (TGF-β2) is increased in glaucomatous ONH and is thought to be responsible for increased synthesis and deposition of ECM proteins of the ONH. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) normally maintain the balance of ECM proteins via opposing TGF-β2 stimulated ECM proteins in various cell types. BMP antagonist gremlin inhibits BMPs function, thus may plan an important role in ECM modulation. We previously demonstrated that human ONH expresses BMP-4, BMP receptor and BMP antagonist gremlin. Therefore, we hypothesize that elevated TGF-β2 in the glaucomatous ONH induces gremlin expression that blocks BMP-4 inhibition of TGF-β2 signaling, leading to increased ECM synthesis and deposition. First, we examined whether human ONH tissues and ONH cells express the canonical BMP signaling pathway. This study demonstrated that ONH tissues and ONH cells express BMP-4 and Smad signaling pathway. Treatment of ONH cells with BMP-4 increased phosphorylation of R-Smad/1/58/ phosphorylation and interaction with Co-Smad4 indicating activation of the Smad signaling pathway. Therefore, cells within the human ONH can respond to locally released BMP via activation of Smad signaling. Second, we examined the signaling pathways utilized by TGF-β2 to stimulate ECM in ONH cells. This study demonstrated that TGF-β2 is increased in glaucomatous ONH. Recombinant TGF-β2 increased ECM deposition in ONH cells. TGF-β2 activated phosphorylation of R-smad2/3 but did not alter phosphorylation of ERK1/2, p38, and JNK1/2 in ONH cells. Inhibition of either TGF-β I receptor activity or phosphorylation of R-Smad3 or knockdown of R-Smad2/3 via siRNA reduced TGF-β2 stimulated ECM in ONH cells. Thus, TGF-β2 requires R-Smad2/3 to stimulate ECM proteins in ONH cells. Lastly, we investigated the potential effects of BMP-4 and gremlin on TGF-β2 stimulated ECM in ONH cells. BMP-4 significantly reduced TGF-β2 stimulation of ECM proteins. Addition of gremlin blocked the BMP-4 effect, increasing ECM proteins in ONH cells. Gremlin levels were significantly increased in the human glaucomatous ONH tissues. Interestingly, recombinant gremlin also increased ECM proteins in ONH cells. Gremlin stimulation of ECM proteins required activation of the TGF-β receptor and R-Smad3. TGF-β2 increased gremlin mRNA and protein in ONH cells. Thus, TGF-β2 induced gremlin expression intensifies TGF-β2 effects on ECM metabolism by inhibiting BMP-4 antagonism of TGF-β2 signaling. In conclusion, elevated TGF-β2 and gremlin in the glaucomatous ONH are involved in the pathogenesis of glaucomatous ONH. Elevated TGF-β2 directly increases ECM and also induces gremlin expression, which further aids TGF-β2 to stimulate ECM via inhibiting BMPs antagonism of TGF-β2 signaling, leading to unopposed TGF-β2 stimulated ECM proteins. Interestingly, R-smad3 is required for TGF-β2 or gremlin induced ECM remodeling in ONH cells. Therefore, modulation of R-smad3 provides a novel therapeutic target for preventing ECM remodeling in glaucoma.