Connective tissue growth factor antagonizes transforming growth factor-β1/Smad signalling in renal mesangial cells.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Biochem J, Volume 441, Issue 1, p.499-510 (2012)


Animals, asb, Cell Line, Cell Movement, Connective Tissue Growth Factor, Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental, Gene Expression Regulation, Humans, Mesangial Cells, Mice, Phosphorylation, Proteoglycans, Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta, Signal Transduction, Smad Proteins, Transforming Growth Factor beta1


The critical involvement of TGF-β1 (transforming growth factor-β1) in DN (diabetic nephropathy) is well established. However, the role of CTGF (connective tissue growth factor) in regulating the complex interplay of TGF-β1 signalling networks is poorly understood. The purpose of the present study was to investigate co-operative signalling between CTGF and TGF-β1 and its physiological significance. CTGF was determined to bind directly to the TβRIII (TGF-β type III receptor) and antagonize TGF-β1-induced Smad phosphorylation and transcriptional responses via its N-terminal half. Furthermore, TGF-β1 binding to its receptor was inhibited by CTGF. A consequent shift towards non-canonical TGF-β1 signalling and expression of a unique profile of differentially regulated genes was observed in CTGF/TGF-β1-treated mesangial cells. Decreased levels of Smad2/3 phosphorylation were evident in STZ (streptozotocin)-induced diabetic mice, concomitant with increased levels of CTGF. Knockdown of TβRIII restored TGF-β1-mediated Smad signalling and cell contractility, suggesting that TβRIII is key for CTGF-mediated regulation of TGF-β1. Comparison of gene expression profiles from CTGF/TGF-β1-treated mesangial cells and human renal biopsy material with histological diagnosis of DN revealed significant correlation among gene clusters. In summary, mesangial cell responses to TGF-β1 are regulated by cross-talk with CTGF, emphasizing the potential utility of targeting CTGF in DN.