Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important process that mediates organ development and wound healing, and in pathological contexts, it can contribute to the progression of fibrosis and cancer. During EMT, cells exhibit marked changes in cytoskeletal organization and increased expression of a variety of actin associated proteins. Here, we sought to determine the role of caldesmon in mediating EMT in response to transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1. We find that the expression level and phosphorylation state of caldesmon increase as a function of time following induction of EMT by TGFβ1 and these changes in caldesmon correlate with increased focal adhesion number and size and increased cell contractility. Knockdown and forced expression of caldesmon in epithelial cells reveals that caldesmon expression plays an important role in regulating the expression of the myofibroblast marker alpha smooth muscle actin. Results from these studies provide insight into the role of cytoskeletal associated proteins in the regulation of EMT and may suggest ways to target the cell cytoskeleton for regulating EMT processes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Cell Biology