Glutaminolysis is required for transforming growth factor-β1-induced myofibroblast differentiation and activation

Academic Article


  • Myofibroblasts participate in physiological wound healing and pathological fibrosis. Myofibroblast differentiation is characterized by the expression ofα-smooth muscle actin and extracellular matrix proteins and is dependent on metabolic reprogramming. In this study, we explored the role of glutaminolysis and metabolites of TCA in supporting myofibroblast differentiation. Glutaminolysis converts Gln into α-ketoglutarate (α-KG), a critical intermediate in theTCAcycle. Increases in the steady-state concentrations of TCA cycle metabolites including α-KG, succinate, fumarate, malate, and citrate were observed in TGF-β1-differentiated myofibroblasts. The concentration of glutamate was also increased in TGF-β1-differentiated myofibroblasts compared with controls, whereas glutamine levels were decreased, suggesting enhanced glutaminolysis. This was associated with TGF-β1-induced expression of the glutaminase (GLS) isoform, GLS1, which converts Gln into glutamate, at both the mRNA and protein levels. The stimulation of GLS1 expression by TGF-β1 was dependent on both SMAD3 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation. Depletion of extracellular Gln prevented TGF-β1-induced myofibroblast differentiation. The removal of extracellular Gln postmyofibroblast differentiation decreased the expression of the profibrotic markers fibronectin and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α and reversed TGF-β1-induced metabolic reprogramming. Silencing of GLS1 expression, in the presence of Gln, abrogated TGF-β1-induced expression of profibrotic markers. Treatment of GLS1-deficient myofibroblasts with exogenous glutamate orα-KG restored TGF- β1-induced expression of profibrotic markers in GLS1-deficient myofibroblasts. Together, these data demonstrate that glutaminolysis is a critical component of myofibroblast metabolic reprogramming that regulates myofibroblast differentiation.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bernard K; Logsdon NJ; Benavides GA; Sanders Y; Zhang J; Darley-Usmar VM; Thannickal VJ
  • Start Page

  • 1218
  • End Page

  • 1228
  • Volume

  • 293
  • Issue

  • 4