Integrin α1β1 negatively regulates the generation of profibrotic reactive oxygen species (ROS) by inhibiting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activation; however, the mechanism by which it does this is unknown. In this study, we show that caveolin-1 (Cav-1), a scaffolding protein that binds integrins and controls growth factor receptor signaling, participates in integrin α1β1-mediated EGFR activation. Integrin α1-null mesangial cells (MCs) have reduced Cav-1 levels, and reexpression of the integrin α1 subunit increases Cav-1 levels, decreases EGFR activation, and reduces ROS production. Downregulation of Cav-1 in wild-type MCs increases EGFR phosphorylation and ROS synthesis, while overexpression of Cav-1 in the integrin α1-null MCs decreases EGFR-mediated ROS production. We further show that integrin α1-null MCs have increased levels of activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), which leads to reduced activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ), a transcription factor that positively regulates Cav-1 expression. Moreover, activation of PPARγ or inhibition of ERK increases Cav-1 levels in the integrin α1-null MCs. Finally, we show that glomeruli of integrin α1-null mice have reduced levels of Cav-1 and activated PPARγ but increased levels of phosphorylated EGFR both at baseline and following injury. Thus, integrin α1β1 negatively regulates EGFR activation by positively controlling Cav-1 levels, and the ERK/PPARγ axis plays a key role in regulating integrin α1β1-dependent Cav-1 expression and consequent EGFR-mediated ROS production
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