Fibroblast activation protein increases apoptosis, cell adhesion, and migration by the LX-2 human stellate cell line

Hepatology. 2005 Oct;42(4):935-45. doi: 10.1002/hep.20853.


Injury and repair in chronic liver disease involve cell adhesion, migration, apoptosis, proliferation, and a wound healing response. In liver, fibroblast activation protein (FAP) has both collagenase and dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPIV) activities and is expressed only by activated hepatic stellate cells (HSC) and myofibroblasts, which produce and degrade extracellular matrix (ECM). FAP was colocalized with collagen fibers, fibronectin, and collagen type I in human liver. FAP function was examined in vitro by expressing green fluorescent protein FAP fusion protein in cell lines cultured on collagen-I, fibronectin, and Matrigel. Glutamates at 203 and 204 as well as serine624 of FAP were essential for peptidase activity. Human embryonic kidney 293T cells overexpressing FAP showed reduced adhesion and migration. FAP overexpression in the human HSC line LX-2 caused increased cell adhesion and migration on ECM proteins as well as invasion across transwells in the absence or presence of transforming growth factor beta-1. FAP overexpression enhanced staurosporine streptomyces-stimulated apoptosis in both cell lines. Interestingly, the enzyme activity of FAP was not required for these functions. Overexpressing FAP increased the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-2 and CD44 and reduced integrin-beta1 expression in 293T cells, suggesting potential pathways of FAP-mediated impairment of cell adhesion and migration in this epithelial cell line. In conclusion, these findings further support a pro-fibrogenic role for FAP by indicating that, in addition to its enzymatic functions, FAP has important nonenzymatic functions that in chronic liver injury may facilitate tissue remodeling through FAP-mediated enhancement of HSC cell adhesion, migration, and apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Collagen Type I / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4 / genetics
  • Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4 / metabolism
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • Gelatinases
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Hepatocytes / cytology*
  • Hepatocytes / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phenotype
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Serine Endopeptidases / genetics*
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Wound Healing / physiology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Collagen Type I
  • Fibronectins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • fibroblast activation protein alpha
  • Gelatinases