Extrinsic modulation of integrin α6 and progenitor cell behavior in mesenchymal stem cells

Stem Cell Res. 2020 Jun 30:47:101899. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2020.101899. Online ahead of print.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are heterogeneous cells of complex nature that show different potentials while different culture conditions can modify their functionalities through interactions with the microenviroment. Here, we found that bone marrow (BM) MSC from different donor sources and passages that expressed higher levels of α6 integrin subunit (ITGA6), showed higher clonogenicity, migration and differentiation potential. ITGA6 showed important roles improving these potentials and regulating proliferation through protein kinase B (AKT) pathway and cell cycle inhibitor proteins p53 and p21. Moreover, ITGA6 downregulation impaired migration. Cell confluence regulated ITGA6, increasing its expression in low density cultures and decreasing in high density cultures. Besides, ITGA6- cells expressed ITGA6 when seeded at low densities. We found higher ITGA6 expression on fibronectin substrates at lower confluency. Fibronectin increased proliferation, clonogenicity, activation of AKT, decreased cell cycle inhibitor proteins and augmented growth factors expression. Spheres-derived MSC showed higher ITGA6 expression and enhanced potentials for migration, clonogenicity and proliferation. In conclusion, though there is an intrinsic regulation of ITGA6 expression, associated to the progenitor potential of BM-MSC, this expression is regulated by culture conditions and is translated in changes in cell behavior and proliferation. This knowledge could be used to enhance the potential of BM-MSC for clinical application.

Keywords: Clonogenicity; Integrin alpha 6; Mesenchymal stem cells; Migration; Proliferation; Protein kinase B.