Influenza Promotes Collagen Deposition via αvβ6 Integrin-mediated Transforming Growth Factor β Activation
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Influenza infection exacerbates chronic pulmonary diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. A central pathway in the pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is epithelial injury leading to activation of transforming growth factor β (TGFβ). The mechanism and functional consequences of influenza-induced activation of epithelial TGFβ are unclear. Influenza stimulates toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3), which can increase RhoA activity, a key event prior to activation of TGFβ by the αvβ6 integrin. We hypothesized that influenza would stimulate TLR3 leading to activation of latent TGFβ via αvβ6 integrin in epithelial cells. Using H1152 (IC50 6.1 μm) to inhibit Rho kinase and 6.3G9 to inhibit αvβ6 integrins, we demonstrate their involvement in influenza (A/PR/8/34 H1N1) and poly(I:C)-induced TGFβ activation. We confirm the involvement of TLR3 in this process using chloroquine (IC50 11.9 μm) and a dominant negative TLR3 construct (pZERO-hTLR3). Examination of lungs from influenza-infected mice revealed augmented levels of collagen deposition, phosphorylated Smad2/3, αvβ6 integrin, and apoptotic cells. Finally, we demonstrate that αvβ6 integrin-mediated TGFβ activity following influenza infection promotes epithelial cell death in vitro and enhanced collagen deposition in vivo and that this response is diminished in Smad3 knock-out mice. These data show that H1N1 and poly(I:C) can induce αvβ6 integrin-dependent TGFβ activity in epithelial cells via stimulation of TLR3 and suggest a novel mechanism by which influenza infection may promote collagen deposition in fibrotic lung disease.
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