Targeting myofibroblasts in model systems of fibrosis by an artificial alpha-smooth muscle-actin promoter hybrid.

Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Cologne, Koeln, Germany.
Molecular Biotechnology (Impact Factor: 2.26). 07/2009; 43(2):121-9. DOI: 10.1007/s12033-009-9186-4
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Myofibroblasts are the main cell types producing extracellular matrix proteins in a variety of fibrotic diseases. Therefore, they are useful targets for studies of intracellular communication and gene therapeutical approaches in scarring diseases. An artificial promoter containing the -702 bp regulatory sequence of the alpha-smooth muscle actin (SMA) gene linked to the first intron enhancer sequence of the beta-actin gene and the beta-globin intron-exon junction was constructed and tested for myofibroblast-dependent gene expression using the green fluorescent protein as a reporter. Reporter expression revealed myofibroblast-specific function in hepatic and renal myofibroblasts, in vitro. In addition, differentiation-dependent activation of the SMA-beta-actin promoter hybrid was shown after induction of myofibroblastic features in mesangial cells by stretching treatment. Furthermore, wound healing experiments with SMA-beta-actin promoter reporter mice demonstrated myofibroblast-specific action, in vivo. In conclusion, the -702 bp regulatory region of the SMA promoter linked to enhancing beta-actin and beta-globin sequences benefits from its small size and is suggested as a promising tool to target myofibroblasts as the crucial cell type in various scarring processes.

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