We have shown previously that the expression of collagenase is upregulated in rabbit synovial fibroblasts cultured on a substrate of antibody to the alpha 5 chain of the alpha 5 beta 1 integrin fibronectin receptor or on the 120-kD cell-binding chymotryptic fragment of plasma fibronectin, but remains at basal levels in cells plated on intact plasma fibronectin. We now have identified some of the components of a signaling pathway that couples the fibronectin receptor to the induction of collagenase transcription. We studied the control of collagenase gene expression in cells adhering to the 120-kD fragment of fibronectin, to antifibronectin receptor antibody, or to plasma fibronectin by transiently introducing promoter-reporter constructs into rabbit synovial fibroblasts before plating cells on these matrices. The constructs contained segments of the human collagenase promoter regulating transcription of chloramphenicol acyl transferase. Expression of constructs containing the -1200/-42-bp segment or the - 139/-42-bp segment of the collagenase promoter inserted upstream from the reporter gene was induced to similar extents in cells plated on the 120-kD fragment of fibronectin or on anti-fibronectin receptor antibody, relative to that in fibroblasts plated on fibronectin. The expression of the construct containing the -66/-42-bp segment of the promoter was not regulated and was similar to that of the parent pBLCAT2 plasmid, suggesting that the -139/-67 region of the collagenase promoter, which contains PEA3- and AP1-binding sites, regulates the transcription of collagenase caused by integrin-derived signals. Expression of a reporter construct containing only the PEA3 and AP1 sites in the collagenase promoter (-90/-67) also increased in cells plated on the 120-kD fragment of fibronectin or on anti-fibronectin receptor antibody, relative to that in cells plated on fibronectin. Mutations in either the AP1 or PEA3 site of this minimal promoter abrogated its activity in cells plated on these inductive ligands. Expression of c-fos mRNA increased within 1 h of plating cells on the 120-kD fibronectin fragment or on anti-fibronectin receptor antibody, relative to that in cells plated on fibronectin. c-Fos protein accumulated in the nuclei of fibroblasts within 10 min of plating on the 120-kD fibronectin fragment. The increase in c-Fos was required for the increase in collagenase in cells plated on the 120-kD fibronectin fragment: incubation of cells with antisense, but not sense, c-fos oligonucleotides diminished both basal and induced expression of the - 139/-42 collagenase promoter-reporter construct and decreased expression of the endogenous collagenase gene.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS
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