Source scripts have been provided for Figure 2.
- Johannes Textor
- Johannes Textor
- Inge M N Wortel
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Andreas Buttenschoen, University of British Columbia, Canada
© 2021, Wortel & Textor
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
De novo limb regeneration after amputation is restricted in mammals to the distal digit tip. Central to this regenerative process is the blastema, a heterogeneous population of lineage-restricted, dedifferentiated cells that ultimately orchestrates regeneration of the amputated bone and surrounding soft tissue. To investigate skeletal regeneration, we made use of spatial transcriptomics to characterize the transcriptional profile specifically within the blastema. Using this technique, we generated a gene signature with high specificity for the blastema in both our spatial data, as well as other previously published single-cell RNA-sequencing transcriptomic studies. To elucidate potential mechanisms distinguishing regenerative from non-regenerative healing, we applied spatial transcriptomics to an aging model. Consistent with other forms of repair, our digit amputation mouse model showed a significant impairment in regeneration in aged mice. Contrasting young and aged mice, spatial analysis revealed a metabolic shift in aged blastema associated with an increased bioenergetic requirement. This enhanced metabolic turnover was associated with increased hypoxia and angiogenic signaling, leading to excessive vascularization and altered regenerated bone architecture in aged mice. Administration of the metabolite oxaloacetate decreased the oxygen consumption rate of the aged blastema and increased WNT signaling, leading to enhanced in vivo bone regeneration. Thus, targeting cell metabolism may be a promising strategy to mitigate aging-induced declines in tissue regeneration.
Chronic liver injury causes fibrosis, characterized by the formation of scar tissue resulting from excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Hepatic stellate cell (HSC) myofibroblasts are the primary cell type responsible for liver fibrosis, yet there are currently no therapies directed at inhibiting the activity of HSC myofibroblasts. To search for potential anti-fibrotic compounds, we performed a high-throughput compound screen in primary human HSC myofibroblasts and identified 19 small molecules that induce HSC inactivation, including the polyether ionophore nanchangmycin (NCMC). NCMC induces lipid re-accumulation while reducing collagen expression, deposition of collagen in the extracellular matrix, cell proliferation, and migration. We find that NCMC increases cytosolic Ca2+ and reduces the phosphorylated protein levels of FYN, PTK2 (FAK), MAPK1/3 (ERK2/1), HSPB1 (HSP27), and STAT5B. Further, depletion of each of these kinases suppress COL1A1 expression. These studies reveal a signaling network triggered by NCMC to inactivate HSC myofibroblasts and reduce expression of proteins that compose the fibrotic scar. Identification of the antifibrotic effects of NCMC and the elucidation of pathways by which NCMC inhibits fibrosis provide new tools and therapeutic targets that could potentially be utilized to combat the development and progression of liver fibrosis.