Bone morphogenetic protein 1 (BMP-1) is an important metalloproteinase that synchronizes growth factor activation with extracellular matrix assembly during morphogenesis and tissue repair. The mechanisms by which BMP-1 exerts these effects are highly context dependent. Because BMP-1 overexpression induces marked phenotypic changes in two human cell lines (HT1080 and 293-EBNA cells), we investigated how BMP-1 simultaneously affects cell-matrix interactions and growth factor activity in these cells. Increasing BMP-1 led to a loss of cell adhesion that depended on the matricellular glycoprotein thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1). BMP-1 cleaved TSP-1 between the VWFC/procollagen-like domain and the type 1 repeats that mediate several key TSP-1 functions. This cleavage induced the release of TSP-1 C-terminal domains from the extracellular matrix and abolished its previously described multisite cooperative interactions with heparan sulfate proteoglycans and CD36 on HT1080 cells. In addition, BMP-1-dependent proteolysis potentiated the TSP-1-mediated activation of latent transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), leading to increased signaling through the canonical SMAD pathway. In primary human corneal stromal cells (keratocytes), endogenous BMP-1 cleaved TSP-1, and the addition of exogenous BMP-1 enhanced cleavage, but this had no substantial effect on cell adhesion. Instead, processed TSP-1 promoted the differentiation of keratocytes into myofibroblasts and stimulated production of the myofibroblast marker α-SMA, consistent with the presence of processed TSP-1 in human corneal scars. Our results indicate that BMP-1 can both trigger the disruption of cell adhesion and stimulate TGF-β signaling in TSP-1-rich microenvironments, which has important potential consequences for wound healing and tumor progression.
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