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cRel expression regulates distinct transcriptional and functional profiles driving fibroblast matrix production in systemic sclerosis


Worrell, Julie C; Leslie, Jack; Smith, Graham R; Zaki, Marco Y W; Paish, Hannah L; Knox, Amber; James, Michelle L; Cartwright, Tyrell N; O'Reilly, Steven; Kania, Gabriela; Distler, Oliver; Distler, Jörg H W; Herrick, Ariane L; Jeziorska, Maria; Borthwick, Lee A; Fisher, Andrew J; Mann, Jelena; Mann, Derek A; Oakley, Fiona (2020). cRel expression regulates distinct transcriptional and functional profiles driving fibroblast matrix production in systemic sclerosis. Rheumatology:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES

NF-κB regulates genes that control inflammation, cell proliferation, differentiation and survival. Dysregulated NF-κB signalling alters normal skin physiology and deletion of cRel limits bleomycin-induced skin fibrosis. This study investigates the role of cRel in modulating fibroblast phenotype in the context of SSc.

METHODS

Fibrosis was assessed histologically in mice challenged with bleomycin to induce lung or skin fibrosis. RNA sequencing and pathway analysis was performed on wild type and Rel-/- murine lung and dermal fibroblasts. Functional assays examined fibroblast proliferation, migration and matrix production. cRel overexpression was investigated in human dermal fibroblasts. cRel immunostaining was performed on lung and skin tissue sections from SSc patients and non-fibrotic controls.

RESULTS

cRel expression was elevated in murine lung and skin fibrosis models. Rel-/- mice were protected from developing pulmonary fibrosis. Soluble collagen production was significantly decreased in fibroblasts lacking cRel while proliferation and migration of these cells was significantly increased. cRel regulates genes involved in extracellular structure and matrix organization. Positive cRel staining was observed in fibroblasts in human SSc skin and lung tissue. Overexpression of constitutively active cRel in human dermal fibroblasts increased expression of matrix genes. An NF-κB gene signature was identified in diffuse SSc skin and nuclear cRel expression was elevated in SSc skin fibroblasts.

CONCLUSION

cRel regulates a pro-fibrogenic transcriptional programme in fibroblasts that may contribute to disease pathology. Targeting cRel signalling in fibroblasts of SSc patients could provide a novel therapeutic avenue to limit scar formation in this disease.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES

NF-κB regulates genes that control inflammation, cell proliferation, differentiation and survival. Dysregulated NF-κB signalling alters normal skin physiology and deletion of cRel limits bleomycin-induced skin fibrosis. This study investigates the role of cRel in modulating fibroblast phenotype in the context of SSc.

METHODS

Fibrosis was assessed histologically in mice challenged with bleomycin to induce lung or skin fibrosis. RNA sequencing and pathway analysis was performed on wild type and Rel-/- murine lung and dermal fibroblasts. Functional assays examined fibroblast proliferation, migration and matrix production. cRel overexpression was investigated in human dermal fibroblasts. cRel immunostaining was performed on lung and skin tissue sections from SSc patients and non-fibrotic controls.

RESULTS

cRel expression was elevated in murine lung and skin fibrosis models. Rel-/- mice were protected from developing pulmonary fibrosis. Soluble collagen production was significantly decreased in fibroblasts lacking cRel while proliferation and migration of these cells was significantly increased. cRel regulates genes involved in extracellular structure and matrix organization. Positive cRel staining was observed in fibroblasts in human SSc skin and lung tissue. Overexpression of constitutively active cRel in human dermal fibroblasts increased expression of matrix genes. An NF-κB gene signature was identified in diffuse SSc skin and nuclear cRel expression was elevated in SSc skin fibroblasts.

CONCLUSION

cRel regulates a pro-fibrogenic transcriptional programme in fibroblasts that may contribute to disease pathology. Targeting cRel signalling in fibroblasts of SSc patients could provide a novel therapeutic avenue to limit scar formation in this disease.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Rheumatology Clinic and Institute of Physical Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:28 July 2020
Deposited On:07 Aug 2020 09:58
Last Modified:07 Aug 2020 10:16
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1462-0324
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keaa272
PubMed ID:32725139

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