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Immunomodulatory activities of human mesenchymal stromal /stem cells (hMSCs) has been widely recognized as the most critical function of hMSCs for exerting its therapeutic effects. However, the detailed mechanisms responsible for regulating the immunomodulation of hMSCs still remain largely unknown. Previous studies revealed that the Notch1 protein exerted a pro-immunomodulatory function probably through interacting with the protein(s) subjective to proteasome-mediated protein degradation. The DLC-1 protein represents a well characterized tumor suppressor subjective to proteasome-mediated degradation. However, the detailed signaling pathway of Notch1 and the involvement of DLC-1 in regulating the immunomodulation of hMSCs have not been studied before. The transfection with cDNA or siRNA into hMSCs assisted by co-culture of hMSCs with peripheral blood mononuclear cells and small molecule inhibitors of signaling proteins, followed by immunoprecipitation, Western blotting, RT-PCR, and flowcytometry, were employed to characterize the Notch1 signaling, to identify DLC-1 as a candidate proteasome-targeted protein, and to characterize DLC-1 signaling pathway and its interaction with the Notch1 signaling, in the regulation of immunomodulation of hMSCs, specifically, the inhibition of pro-inflammatory CD4+-Th1 lymphocytes, and the release of immunomodulatory molecule IDO1. One-way ANOVA was utilized as a statistical tool to analyze the data presented as means ± SEM of at least three separate experiments. The present study revealed that the Notch1-Hey1 axis, but not the Notch1-Hes1 axis, was likely responsible for mediating the pro-immunomodulatory function of the Notch1 signaling. The DLC-1 protein was found subjective to proteasome-mediated protein degradation mediated by the DDB1 and FBXW5 E3 ligases and served as an inhibitor of the immunomodulation of hMSCs through inhibiting Rock1, but not Rock2, downstream the DLC-1 signaling. The Notch1 signaling in the Notch1-Hey1 pathway and the DLC-1 signaling in the DLC-1-Rock1-FBXW5 pathway exhibited a mutual exclusion interaction in the regulation of immunomodulation of hMSCs. The present study uncovers a novel function of DLC-1 tumor suppressor in regulating the immunomodulation of hMSCs. It also proposes a novel mutual exclusion mechanism between the DLC-1 signaling and the Notch1 signaling that is possibly responsible for fine-tuning the immunomodulation of hMSCs with different clinical implications in hMSCs therapy.


Tao Na, Kehua Zhang, Bao-Zhu Yuan. The DLC-1 tumor suppressor is involved in regulating immunomodulation of human mesenchymal stromal /stem cells through interacting with the Notch1 protein. BMC cancer. 2020 Nov 04;20(1):1064

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PMID: 33148199

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