Our goal is to analyze the molecular mechanisms that underlie the formation of tubulointerstitial (TI) fibrosis, to devise more effective therapies to prevent its progression. We study the collagen receptor integrins ?1?1 and showed that it downregulates collagen synthesis, and its loss leads to increased glomerular fibrosis following injury. Integrin ?1?1 plays an anti-fibrotic action by negatively regulating the phosphorylation state of pro-fibrotic growth factor receptors via activation of the tyrosine phosphatase TCPTP. We have also found that integrin ?1?1 is a negative regulator of TI fibrosis, as integrin ?1KO mice show increased unilateral ureteral obstruction-induced fibrosis. Moreover, integrin ?1KO collecting duct (CD) cells have increased activation of TGF-? receptor (T?R)-dependent pro-fibrotic signaling, such as phosphorylated Smad3 and collagen levels. TGF-? exerts its functions via activation of the serine/threonine kinases T?RI and T?RII. Binding of TGF-? to T?RII leads to phosphorylation of T?RI and subsequent activation of the major pro-fibrotic mediator Smad3. Interestingly, the cytoplasmic tail of T?RII can also be phosphorylated on tyrosine residues. However, whether these tyrosines play any physiological or pathological role in renal cells is unknown. The novelty of this proposal is that integrin ?1KO CD cells show increased basal levels of tyrosine phosphorylated T?RII. This result suggests that, in renal cells, integrin ?1?1 crosstalks with T?RII and it might prevent its pro-fibrotic action by downregulating its tyrosine phosphorylation levels. Interestingly, inhibition of TCPTP in CD cells leads to increased Smad3 activation and collagen synthesis. This result, together with the finding that 3 tyrosines in the T?RII tail can be potential substrates of TCPTP, forms the hypothesis that integrin ?1?1 negatively regulates T?RII tyrosine phosphorylation via activation of TCPTP. Thus, we propose that integrin ?1?1/TCPTP-mediated dephosphorylation of T?RII represents an important, but previously undescribed mechanism to selectively reduce T?RII activation and consequent progression of fibrosis. To test this hypothesis:
Aim 1 will analyze the role of T?RII-mediated pro-fibrotic signaling in TI injury in the integrin ?1KO mice. We will cross integrin ?1KO mice with global null or floxed Smad3 mice to determine if preventing T?R/Smad3 axis in the collecting system is sufficient to ameliorate TI fibrosis in the ?1KO mice. We will then determine if in vivo activation of TCPTP is beneficial in the setting of TI injury by counteracting T?R-mediated pro-fibrotic action.
Aim 2 will determine the mechanisms whereby integrin ?1?1 negatively regulates T?RII. We will use in vitro approaches to analyze i) if TCPTP directly binds and dephosphorylates T?RII;ii) if tyrosine residues are important to control T?RII-mediated Smad3 activation and collagen synthesis;and iii) which tyrosine(s) controls T?RII-mediated functions. This study will lead to the identification of a novel crosstalk between integrin ?1?1 an T?RII and, most importantly, a novel mechanism whereby T?RII-mediated pro-fibrotic signaling can be negatively modulated.

Public Health Relevance

Transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) is widely recognized as one of the key mediators of renal fibrosis leading to chronic kidney disease (CKD);however anti-TGF-? therapy is not effective for the treatment of CKD because 1) TGF-? also exerts beneficial effects;and 2) activation of TGF-? downstream pro-fibrotic signaling can be TGF-? ligand independent. In this proposal, we provide evidence that in the collecting system of the kidney, the collagen receptor integrin ?1?1 crosstalks with the TGF-? receptor II (T?RII) and plays an anti-fibrotic role by negatively regulating T?RII-mediated pro-fibrotic signaling in a ligand independent fashion. Understanding how integrin ?1?1 negatively controls T?RII pro-fibrotic action will contribute to the identification of 1) a novel crosstalk between integrin ?1?1 and T?RII;2) a novel mechanism whereby T?RIImediated pro-fibrotic signaling can be negatively modulated;and 3) areas where integrin and/or T?RII functions can be specifically targeted to halt and ideally prevent CKD.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Pathobiology of Kidney Disease Study Section (PBKD)
Program Officer
Rys-Sikora, Krystyna E
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Skrypnyk, Nataliya; Chen, Xiwu; Hu, Wen et al. (2014) PPAR* activation can help prevent and treat non-small cell lung cancer. Cancer Res 74:621-31
Parekh, R; Lorenzo, M K; Shin, S Y et al. (2014) Integrin ?1?1 differentially regulates cytokine-mediated responses in chondrocytes. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 22:499-508
Elias, Bertha C; Mathew, Sijo; Srichai, Manakan B et al. (2014) The integrin ?1 subunit regulates paracellular permeability of kidney proximal tubule cells. J Biol Chem 289:8532-44
Chen, Xiwu; Wang, Hongtao; Liao, Hong-Jun et al. (2014) Integrin-mediated type II TGF-? receptor tyrosine dephosphorylation controls SMAD-dependent profibrotic signaling. J Clin Invest 124:3295-310
Jablonski, Christina L; Ferguson, Samuel; Pozzi, Ambra et al. (2014) Integrin ?1?1 participates in chondrocyte transduction of osmotic stress. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 445:184-90
Miller, Charles G; Pozzi, Ambra; Zent, Roy et al. (2014) Effects of high glucose on integrin activity and fibronectin matrix assembly by mesangial cells. Mol Biol Cell 25:2342-50
Borza, Corina M; Pozzi, Ambra (2014) Discoidin domain receptors in disease. Matrix Biol 34:185-92
Pozzi, Ambra; Zent, Roy (2013) Integrins in kidney disease. J Am Soc Nephrol 24:1034-9