Smad3 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 coordinately mediate transforming growth factor-beta-induced expression of connective tissue growth factor in human fibroblasts

Suvi-Katri Leivonen, Lari Häkkinen, David Liu, Veli-Matti Kähäri
Journal of Investigative Dermatology 2005, 124 (6): 1162-9
Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is secreted by fibroblasts stimulated with transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta). CTGF is a potent enhancer of fibroblast proliferation, chemotaxis, and extracellular matrix deposition, and it is thought to mediate some of the fibrogenic effects of TGF-beta. Here, we have elucidated signaling pathways involved in regulating the TGF-beta-induced production of CTGF in primary fibroblasts. TGF-beta induced the expression of CTGF messenger RNA and protein in human gingival fibroblasts after 2 h of treatment. Adenoviral overexpression of Smad3 enhanced the TGF-beta-elicited expression of CTGF, whereas Smad7 and dominant-negative Smad3 suppressed the effects of TGF-beta on CTGF and Cyr61 expression. Pre-treatment of cells with PD98059, an inhibitor for extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2-activator mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/ERK kinase (MEK)1, potently inhibited the TGF-beta-induced expression of CTGF. Furthermore, co-expression of Smad3 with constitutively active MEK1 resulted in potent induction of CTGF production without exogenous TGF-beta stimulation. Together, these results demonstrate that Smad3 and ERK1/2 coordinately mediate TGF-beta-induced release of CTGF by fibroblasts. It is conceivable that the crosstalk between Smad3 and ERK1/2 signaling cascades plays an important role in regulating CTGF expression, e.g., in wound repair and tissue fibrosis and could be exploited in therapeutic targeting of fibrotic conditions.

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