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PU.1 controls fibroblast polarization and tissue fibrosis

By Thomas Wohlfahrt, Simon Rauber, Steffen Uebe, Markus Luber, Alina Soare, Arif Ekici, Stefanie Weber, Alexandru-Emil Matei, Chih-Wei Chen, Christiane Maier, Emmanuel Karouzakis, Hans P. Kiener, Elena Pachera, Clara Dees, Christian Beyer, Christoph Daniel, Kolja Gelse, Andreas E. Kremer, Elisabeth Naschberger, Michael Stürzl, Falk Butter, Michael Sticherling, Susetta Finotto, Alexander Kreuter, Mark H. Kaplan, Astrid Jüngel, Steffen Gay, Stephen L. Nutt, David W. Boykin, Gregory M. K. Poon, Oliver Distler, Georg Schett, Jörg H. W. Distler and Andreas Ramming


Fibroblasts are polymorphic cells with pleiotropic roles in organ morphogenesis, tissue homeostasis and immune responses. In fibrotic diseases, fibroblasts synthesize abundant amounts of extracellular matrix, which induces scarring and organ failure. By contrast, a hallmark feature of fibroblasts in arthritis is degradation of the extracellular matrix because of the release of metalloproteinases and degrading enzymes, and subsequent tissue destruction. The mechanisms that drive these functionally opposing pro-fibrotic and pro-inflammatory phenotypes of fibroblasts remain unknown. Here we identify the transcription factor PU.1 as an essential regulator of the pro-fibrotic gene expression program. The interplay between transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms that normally control the expression of PU.1 expression is perturbed in various fibrotic diseases, resulting in the upregulation of PU.1, induction of fibrosis-associated gene sets and a phenotypic switch in extracellular matrix-producing pro-fibrotic fibroblasts. By contrast, pharmacological and genetic inactivation of PU.1 disrupts the fibrotic network and enables reprogramming of fibrotic fibroblasts into resting fibroblasts, leading to regression of fibrosis in several organs

Topics: Fibrosis, Matrix-producing fibrotic fibroblasts, Matrix-degrading inflammatory fibroblasts, Tissue repair, PU.1, Spi1
Publisher: 'Springer Science and Business Media LLC'
Year: 2019
DOI identifier: 10.1038/s41586-019-0896-x
OAI identifier:
Provided by: IUPUIScholarWorks

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