Fibrotic lung diseases represent a diverse group of progressive and often fatal disorders with limited treatment options. Although the pathogenesis of these conditions remains incompletely understood, receptor type protein tyrosine phosphatase α (PTP-α encoded by PTPRA) has emerged as a key regulator of fibroblast signaling. We previously reported that PTP-α regulates cellular responses to cytokines and growth factors through integrin-mediated signaling and that PTP-α promotes fibroblast expression of matrix metalloproteinase 3, a matrix-degrading proteinase linked to pulmonary fibrosis. Here, we sought to determine more directly the role of PTP-α in pulmonary fibrosis. Mice genetically deficient in PTP-α (Ptpra(-/-)) were protected from pulmonary fibrosis induced by intratracheal bleomycin, with minimal alterations in the early inflammatory response or production of TGF-β. Ptpra(-/-) mice were also protected from pulmonary fibrosis induced by adenoviral-mediated expression of active TGF-β1. In reciprocal bone marrow chimera experiments, the protective phenotype tracked with lung parenchymal cells but not bone marrow-derived cells. Because fibroblasts are key contributors to tissue fibrosis, we compared profibrotic responses in wild-type and Ptpra(-/-) mouse embryonic and lung fibroblasts. Ptpra(-/-) fibroblasts exhibited hyporesponsiveness to TGF-β, manifested by diminished expression of αSMA, EDA-fibronectin, collagen 1A, and CTGF. Ptpra(-/-) fibroblasts exhibited markedly attenuated TGF-β-induced Smad2/3 transcriptional activity. We conclude that PTP-α promotes profibrotic signaling pathways in fibroblasts through control of cellular responsiveness to TGF-β.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.