Lysyl oxidase (LOX) is a key extracellular enzyme responsible for the post-translational modification of collagens I and III to form mature fibrillar collagen. Increased expression of LOX is associated with fibrosis and cardiac dysfunction, yet little is known about the regulation of LOX in the heart. In this study, the cell signaling pathways responsible for the regulation of LOX expression by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 were assessed. Adult cardiac fibroblasts were isolated from male Sprague-Dawley rat hearts by enzymatic digestion. Fibroblasts were grown in DMEM with 10% FBS until approximately 80% confluent, growth arrested for 24h, and then treated with TGF-β1 (0-10 ng/ml), in the absence or presence of inhibitors of (1) PI3K (wortmannin), (2) Smad3 (SIS3), (3) p38-MAPK (PD169316), (4) JNK (SP600125) and (5) ERK1/2 (PD98059). TGF-β1 treatment significantly upregulated LOX mRNA and protein expression in cardiac fibroblasts, as well as activity in the cell-conditioned media. Concomitant increases in collagen types I and III, and bone morphogenic protein (BMP-1) expression were found in response to TGF-β1. The increase of LOX protein in response to TGF-β1 was prevented by inhibitors of PI3K, Smad3, p38-MAPK, JNK and ERK1/2. Blockade of PI3K also decreased TGF-β1 induced phosphorylation of Smad3, suggesting that the PI3K/Akt and Smad pathways may be integrated in TGF-β1 signaling. Further studies are warranted to address the regulation of LOX in the normal and diseased heart, and how this critical extracellular enzyme may be targeted for clinical benefit.
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