The early growth response gene (Egr-1) codes for a zinc finger transcription factor that has important roles in the regulation of cell growth, differentiation, and survival. Aberrant Egr-1 expression is implicated in carcinogenesis, inflammation, atherosclerosis, and ischemic injury. We reported previously that normal fibroblasts stimulated by transforming growth factor-β showed rapid and transient induction of Egr-1. Moreover, we observed that tissue expression of Egr-1 was elevated in patients with scleroderma, which suggests that Egr-1 may be involved in tissue repair and fibrosis. Here, we investigated matrix remodeling and wound healing in mice harboring gain of function or loss of function mutations of Egr-1. Using the model of bleomycin-induced scleroderma, we found that the early influx of inflammatory cells into the skin and lungs, and the subsequent development of fibrosis in these organs, were markedly attenuated in Egr-1 null mice. Furthermore, full-thickness incisional skin wound healing was impaired, and skin fibroblasts lacking Egr-1 showed reduced migration and myofibroblast transdifferentiation in vitro. In contrast, transgenic mice with fibroblast-specific Egr-1 overexpression showed exuberant tissue repair, with enhanced collagen accumulation and increased tensile strength of incisional wounds. Together, these results point to the fundamental role that Egr-1 plays in the regulation of transforming growth factor-β-dependent physiological and pathological matrix remodeling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine