The importance of the tissue transglutaminase-fibronectin heterocomplex in the RGD-independent cell adhesion and fibronectin matrix deposition

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Tissue transglutaminase (TG2) has been reported as a wound response protein. Once over-expressed by cells under stress such as during wound healing or following tissue damage, TG2 can be secreted and deposited into extracellular matrix, where it forms a heterocomplex (TG-FN) with the abundant matrix protein fibronectin (FN). A further cellular response elicited after tissue damage is that of matrix remodelling leading to the release of the Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) containing matrix fragments by matrix matelloproteinases (MMPs). These peptides are able to block the interaction between integrin cell surface receptors and ECM proteins, leading to the loss of cell adhesion and ultimately Anoikis. This study provides a mechanism for TG2, as a stress-induced matrix protein, in protecting the cells from the RGD-dependent loss of cell adhesion and rescuing the cells from Anoikis. Mouse fibroblasts were used as a major model for this study, including different types of cell surface receptor knockout mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) (such as syndecan-4, a5, ß1 or ß3 integrins). In addition specific syndecan-2 targetting siRNAs, ß1 integrin and a4ß1 integrin functional blocking antibodies, and a specific targeting peptide against a5ß1 integrin A5-1 were used to investigate the involvement of these receptors in the RGD-independent cell adhesion on TG-FN. Crucial for TG-FN to compensate the RGD-independent cell adhesion and actin cytoskeleton formation is the direct interaction between the heparan sulfate chains of syndecan-4 and TG2, which elicits the inside-out signalling of a5ß1 integrin and the intracellular activation of syndecan-2 by protein kinase C a (PKCa). By using specific inhibitors, a cell-permeable inhibiting peptide and the detection of the phosphorylation sites for protein kinases and/or the translocation of PKCa via Western blotting, the activation of PKCa, focal adhesion kinase (FAK), ERK1/2 and Rho kinase (ROCK) were confirmed as downstream signalling molecules. Importantly, this study also investigated the influence of TG-FN on matrix turnover and demonstrated that TG-FN can restore the RGD-independent FN deposition process via an a5ß1 integrin and syndecan-4/2 co-signalling pathway linked by PKCa in a transamidating-independent manner. These data provide a novel function for TG2 in wound healing and matrix turnover which is a key event in a number of both physiological and pathological processes.
Date of AwardApr 2010
Original languageEnglish


  • tissue transglutaminase-fibronectin heterocomplex
  • RGD-independent cell adhesion
  • fibronectin matrix deposition

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