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Chronic inflammation and subsequent tissue fibrosis are associated with a biochemical and mechanical remodeling of the fibronectin matrix. Due to its conformational lability, fibronectin is considerably stretched by the contractile forces of the fibrotic microenvironment, resulting in the unfolding of its Type III domains. In earlier studies, we have shown that a peptide mimetic of a partially unfolded fibronectin Type III domain, FnIII-1c, functions as a Damage Associated Molecular Pattern (DAMP) molecule to induce activation of a toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)/NF-B pathway and the subsequent release of fibro-inflammatory cytokines from human dermal fibroblasts. In the current study, we evaluated the requirement of the canonical TLR4/MD2/CD14 receptor complex in the regulation of FnIII-1c induced cytokine release. Using dermal fibroblasts and human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells, we found that all the components of the TLR4/MD2/CD14 complex were required for the release of the fibro-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin 8 (IL-8) in response to both FnIII-1c and the canonical TLR4 ligand, lipopolysaccharide (LPS). However, FnIII-1c mediated IL-8 release was strictly dependent on membrane-associated CD14, while LPS could use soluble CD14. These findings demonstrate that LPS and FnIII-1c share a similar but not identical mechanism of TLR4 activation in human dermal fibroblasts.


Mingzhe Zheng, Anthony Ambesi, Paula J McKeown-Longo. Role of TLR4 Receptor Complex in the Regulation of the Innate Immune Response by Fibronectin. Cells. 2020 Jan 15;9(1)

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PMID: 31952223

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