Alessandra Ferrari

University of Padova, Padova, Veneto, Italy

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Publications (5)44.18 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Collagen VI is a survival factor for skeletal muscle produced by endomysial cells and localized in connective tissue around muscle fibers. Mutations of its genes (COL6A1, COL6A2 and COL6A3) cause two muscular disorders, Bethlem myopathy and Ullrich disease. Expression of Collagen VI is highly dynamic during development, suggesting that developmental and homeostatic cues of the muscle microenvironment are relevant to confine its expression in this tissue. In face of the large body of work highlighting the relevance for human diseases of the adhesion of muscle cells with their surrounding extracellular matrix, remarkably little is known on how myogenic cells control gene expression in the connective tissue cells that produce such matrix. By expressing promoter-lacZ constructs in transgenic mice, we identify a Col6a1 gene enhancer region that is necessary for activation of transcription in connective tissue cells associated with skeletal muscle. By means of a lacZ transgenic mouse line crossed in metD/D mutant background, in which muscles of limb buds fail to form, we provide evidence that the presence of cells of the myogenic lineage is needed for enhancer activation in mesenchymal cells. Accordingly, lack of myogenic cells in limb buds of metD/D mice reduces Collagen VI deposition in connective tissue. The Col6a1 enhancer characterized here is conserved in mammals and may be relevant in some cases of heritable diseases of Collagen VI.
    Experimental Cell Research 09/2008; 314(19):3508-18. · 3.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: TGF-beta proteins are main regulators of blood vessel development and maintenance. Here, we report an unprecedented link between TGF-beta signaling and arterial hypertension based on the analysis of mice mutant for Emilin1, a cysteine-rich secreted glycoprotein expressed in the vascular tree. Emilin1 knockout animals display increased blood pressure, increased peripheral vascular resistance, and reduced vessel size. Mechanistically, we found that Emilin1 inhibits TGF-beta signaling by binding specifically to the proTGF-beta precursor and preventing its maturation by furin convertases in the extracellular space. In support of these findings, genetic inactivation of Emilin1 causes increased TGF-beta signaling in the vascular wall. Strikingly, high blood pressure observed in Emilin1 mutants is rescued to normal levels upon inactivation of a single TGF-beta1 allele. This study highlights the importance of modulation of TGF-beta availability in the pathogenesis of hypertension.
    Cell 04/2006; 124(5):929-42. · 31.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Collagen VI is a main extracellular matrix protein whose mutation is linked to myopathic diseases. In myoblasts and other cell types, collagen VI gene transcription peaks during cell-cycle exit that precedes differentiation, upon serum withdrawal or confluence. To get insight into this transcriptional regulation, we characterized a growth arrest responsive region (GARR) in the Col6a1 promoter responsible for this effect. In this work, we identify sterol regulatory element binding protein (SREBP) as a GARR binding protein and provide evidence that SREBP contributes to induction of Col6a1 transcription in serum free conditions. Furthermore, our data unveil a previously unexpected link between extracellular matrix production and LDL signaling.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 02/2004; 313(3):600-5. · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The EDEN gene superfamily comprises genes that contain the EMI domain, a structural motif recently identified in proteins of the extracellular matrix. We report here the detailed expression pattern of genes of the EMILIN/Multimerin family, the most numerous group of EDEN superfamily, during mouse development. In situ hybridization has revealed that the EMILIN/Multimerin genes are particularly expressed in the cardio-vascular system and in mesenchymal cells. In general, the territories of expression of each gene are partially overlapping or complementary with that of other members of the family and, usually, more than one gene of the family is active in different tissues, consistent with the possibility of functional compensation. The analysis is particularly relevant in the interpretation of gene targeting experiments.
    Matrix Biology 02/2004; 22(7):549-56. · 3.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Expression of EMILIN-1, the first member of a newly discovered family of extracellular matrix genes, has been investigated during mouse development. EMILIN-1 mRNA is detectable in morula and blastocyst by RT-PCR. First expression of the gene is found by in situ hybridization in ectoplacental cone in embryos of 6.5 days and in extraembryonic visceral endoderm at 7.5 days. The allantois is also labeled. Staining of ectoplacental cone-derived secondary trophoblast giant cells and spongiotrophoblast is strong up to 11.5 days and then declines. In the embryo, high levels of mRNA are initially expressed in blood vessels, perineural mesenchyme and somites at 8.5 days. Later on, intense labeling is identified in the mesenchymal component of organs anlage (i.e. lung and liver) and different mesenchymal condensations (i.e. limb bud and branchial arches). At late gestation staining is widely distributed in interstitial connective tissue and smooth muscle cell-rich tissues. The data suggest that EMILIN-1 may have a function in placenta formation and initial organogenesis and a later role in interstitial connective tissue.
    Matrix Biology 12/2002; 21(7):603-9. · 3.19 Impact Factor