A mechanoresponsive PINCH-1-Notch2 interaction regulates smooth muscle differentiation of human placental mesenchymal stem cells.

Affiliation

Su J(1), Guo L(1)(2), Wu C(3).
Author information:
(1)Department of Biology, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Cell Microenvironment and Disease Research, Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Cell Microenvironment, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, People's Republic of China.
(2)Academy for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, People's Republic of China.
(3)Department of Pathology and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

Abstract

Extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness plays an important role in the decision making process of smooth muscle differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) but the underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood. Here we show that a signaling axis consisting of PINCH-1 and Notch2 is critically involved in mediating the effect of ECM stiffness on smooth muscle differentiation of MSCs. Notch2 level is markedly increased in ECM stiffness-induced smooth muscle differentiation of human placental MSCs. Knockdown of Notch2 from human placental MSCs effectively inhibits ECM stiffness-induced smooth muscle differentiation, whereas overexpression of North intracellular domain (NICD2) is sufficient to drive human placental MSC differentiation toward smooth muscle cells. At the molecular level, Notch2 directly interacts with PINCH-1. The interaction of Notch2 with PINCH-1 is significantly increased in response to ECM stiffness favoring smooth muscle differentiation. Furthermore, depletion of PINCH-1 from human placental MSCs reduces Notch2 level and consequently suppresses ECM stiffness-induced smooth muscle differentiation. Re-expression of PINCH-1, but not that of a Notch2-binding defective PINCH-1 mutant, in PINCH-1 knockdown human placental MSCs restores smooth muscle differentiation. Finally, overexpression of NICD2 is sufficient to override PINCH-1 deficiency-induced defect in smooth muscle differentiation. Our results identify an ECM stiffness-responsive PINCH-1-Notch2 interaction that is critically involved in ECM stiffness-induced smooth muscle differentiation of human placental MSCs.