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    Myofibroblasts, characterized by the expression of the matricellular protein periostin (Postn), mediate the profibrogenic response during tissue repair and remodeling. Previous studies have demonstrated that systemic deficiency in myocardin-related transcription factor A (MRTF-A) attenuates renal fibrosis in mice. In the present study, we investigated the myofibroblast-specific role of MRTF-A in renal fibrosis and the underlying mechanism. We report that myofibroblast-specific deletion of MRTF-A, achieved through crossbreeding Mrtfa-flox mice with Postn-CreERT2 mice, led to amelioration of renal fibrosis. RNA-seq identified zinc finger E-Box binding homeobox 1 (Zeb1) as a downstream target of MRTF-A in renal fibroblasts. MRTF-A interacts with TEA domain transcription factor 1 (TEAD1) to bind to the Zeb1 promoter and activate Zeb1 transcription. Zeb1 knockdown retarded the fibroblast-myofibroblast transition (FMyT) in vitro and dampened renal fibrosis in mice. Transcriptomic assays showed that Zeb1 might contribute to FMyT by repressing the transcription of interferon regulatory factor 9 (IRF9). IRF9 knockdown overcame the effect of Zeb1 depletion and promoted FMyT, whereas IRF9 overexpression antagonized TGF-β-induced FMyT. In conclusion, our data unveil a novel MRTF-A-Zeb1-IRF9 axis that can potentially contribute to fibroblast-myofibroblast transition and renal fibrosis. Screening for small-molecule compounds that target this axis may yield therapeutic options for the mollification of renal fibrosis. © 2023. The Author(s).


    Qianwen Zhao, Tinghui Shao, Yuwen Zhu, Gengjie Zong, Junjie Zhang, Shifan Tang, Yanshan Lin, Hongzhen Ma, Zhifan Jiang, Yong Xu, Xiaoyan Wu, Tao Zhang. An MRTF-A-ZEB1-IRF9 axis contributes to fibroblast-myofibroblast transition and renal fibrosis. Experimental & molecular medicine. 2023 May;55(5):987-998

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    PMID: 37121967

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