Maladaptive wound healing responses to chronic tissue injury result in organ fibrosis. Fibrosis, which entails excessive extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition and tissue remodeling by activated myofibroblasts, leads to loss of proper tissue architecture and organ function; however, the molecular mediators of myofibroblast activation have yet to be fully identified. Here we identify soluble ephrin-B2 (sEphrin-B2) as a new profibrotic mediator in lung and skin fibrosis. We provide molecular, functional and translational evidence that the ectodomain of membrane-bound ephrin-B2 is shed from fibroblasts into the alveolar airspace after lung injury. Shedding of sEphrin-B2 promotes fibroblast chemotaxis and activation via EphB3 and/or EphB4 receptor signaling. We found that mice lacking ephrin-B2 in fibroblasts are protected from skin and lung fibrosis and that a disintegrin and metalloproteinase 10 (ADAM10) is the major ephrin-B2 sheddase in fibroblasts. ADAM10 expression is increased by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, and ADAM10-mediated sEphrin-B2 generation is required for TGF-β1-induced myofibroblast activation. Pharmacological inhibition of ADAM10 reduces sEphrin-B2 levels in bronchoalveolar lavage and prevents lung fibrosis in mice. Consistent with the mouse data, ADAM10–sEphrin-B2 signaling is upregulated in fibroblasts from human subjects with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. These results uncover a new molecular mechanism of tissue fibrogenesis and identify sEphrin-B2, its receptors EphB3 and EphB4 and ADAM10 as potential therapeutic targets in the treatment of fibrotic diseases.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $18.75 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Gene Expression Omnibus
Ho, Y.Y., Lagares, D., Tager, A.M. & Kapoor, M. Fibrosis—a lethal component of systemic sclerosis. Nat. Rev. Rheumatol. 10, 390–402 (2014).
Wynn, T.A. & Ramalingam, T.R. Mechanisms of fibrosis: therapeutic translation for fibrotic disease. Nat. Med. 18, 1028–1040 (2012).
Noble, P.W., Barkauskas, C.E. & Jiang, D. Pulmonary fibrosis: patterns and perpetrators. J. Clin. Invest. 122, 2756–2762 (2012).
Chambers, R.C. & Mercer, P.F. Mechanisms of alveolar epithelial injury, repair, and fibrosis. Ann. Am. Thorac. Soc. 12 (Suppl. 1), S16–S20 (2015).
Duffield, J.S. Cellular and molecular mechanisms in kidney fibrosis. J. Clin. Invest. 124, 2299–2306 (2014).
Selman, M. et al. Accelerated variant of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: clinical behavior and gene expression pattern. PLoS One 2, e482 (2007).
Renzoni, E.A. et al. Gene expression profiling reveals novel TGFβ targets in adult lung fibroblasts. Respir. Res. 5, 24 (2004).
Parrinello, S. et al. EphB signaling directs peripheral nerve regeneration through Sox2-dependent Schwann cell sorting. Cell 143, 145–155 (2010).
Foo, S.S. et al. Ephrin-B2 controls cell motility and adhesion during blood-vessel-wall assembly. Cell 124, 161–173 (2006).
Kullander, K. & Klein, R. Mechanisms and functions of Eph and ephrin signalling. Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 3, 475–486 (2002).
Klein, R. Eph/ephrin signalling during development. Development 139, 4105–4109 (2012).
Noren, N.K., Lu, M., Freeman, A.L., Koolpe, M. & Pasquale, E.B. Interplay between EphB4 on tumor cells and vascular ephrin-B2 regulates tumor growth. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101, 5583–5588 (2004).
Wang, H.U., Chen, Z.F. & Anderson, D.J. Molecular distinction and angiogenic interaction between embryonic arteries and veins revealed by ephrin-B2 and its receptor Eph-B4. Cell 93, 741–753 (1998).
Kida, Y., Ieronimakis, N., Schrimpf, C., Reyes, M. & Duffield, J.S. EphrinB2 reverse signaling protects against capillary rarefaction and fibrosis after kidney injury. J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 24, 559–572 (2013).
Avouac, J. et al. Enhanced expression of ephrins and thrombospondins in the dermis of patients with early diffuse systemic sclerosis: potential contribution to perturbed angiogenesis and fibrosis. Rheumatology (Oxford) 50, 1494–1504 (2011).
Gerety, S.S., Wang, H.U., Chen, Z.F. & Anderson, D.J. Symmetrical mutant phenotypes of the receptor EphB4 and its specific transmembrane ligand ephrin-B2 in cardiovascular development. Mol. Cell 4, 403–414 (1999).
Luo, H. et al. Efnb1 and Efnb2 proteins regulate thymocyte development, peripheral T cell differentiation, and antiviral immune responses and are essential for interleukin-6 (IL-6) signaling. J. Biol. Chem. 286, 41135–41152 (2011).
Astin, J.W. et al. Competition amongst Eph receptors regulates contact inhibition of locomotion and invasiveness in prostate cancer cells. Nat. Cell Biol. 12, 1194–1204 (2010).
Lin, K.T., Sloniowski, S., Ethell, D.W. & Ethell, I.M. Ephrin-B2-induced cleavage of EphB2 receptor is mediated by matrix metalloproteinases to trigger cell repulsion. J. Biol. Chem. 283, 28969–28979 (2008).
Ji, Y.J. et al. EphrinB2 affects apical constriction in Xenopus embryos and is regulated by ADAM10 and flotillin-1. Nat. Commun. 5, 3516 (2014).
Tomita, T., Tanaka, S., Morohashi, Y. & Iwatsubo, T. Presenilin-dependent intramembrane cleavage of ephrin-B1. Mol. Neurodegener. 1, 2 (2006).
Hattori, M., Osterfield, M. & Flanagan, J.G. Regulated cleavage of a contact-mediated axon repellent. Science 289, 1360–1365 (2000).
Lisle, J.E. et al. Murine, but not human, ephrin-B2 can be efficiently cleaved by the serine protease kallikrein-4: implications for xenograft models of human prostate cancer. Exp. Cell Res. 333, 136–146 (2015).
Himanen, J.P. et al. Crystal structure of an Eph receptor–ephrin complex. Nature 414, 933–938 (2001).
Pasquale, E.B. Eph–ephrin promiscuity is now crystal clear. Nat. Neurosci. 7, 417–418 (2004).
Le Gall, S.M. et al. ADAMs 10 and 17 represent differentially regulated components of a general shedding machinery for membrane proteins such as transforming growth factor alpha, L-selectin, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. Mol. Biol. Cell 20, 1785–1794 (2009).
Lagares, D. et al. Endothelin 1 contributes to the effect of transforming growth factor beta1 on wound repair and skin fibrosis. Arthritis Rheum. 62, 878–889 (2010).
Border, W.A. & Noble, N.A. Transforming growth factor beta in tissue fibrosis. N. Engl. J. Med. 331, 1286–1292 (1994).
Ludwig, A. et al. Metalloproteinase inhibitors for the disintegrin-like metalloproteinases ADAM10 and ADAM17 that differentially block constitutive and phorbol ester-inducible shedding of cell surface molecules. Comb. Chem. High Throughput Screen. 8, 161–171 (2005).
Janes, P.W. et al. Adam meets Eph: an ADAM substrate recognition module acts as a molecular switch for ephrin cleavage in trans. Cell 123, 291–304 (2005).
Zhang, K., Flanders, K.C. & Phan, S.H. Cellular localization of transforming growth factor-beta expression in bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. Am. J. Pathol. 147, 352–361 (1995).
Munger, J.S. et al. The integrin alpha v beta 6 binds and activates latent TGF beta 1: a mechanism for regulating pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis. Cell 96, 319–328 (1999).
Ramos, C. et al. Fibroblasts from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and normal lungs differ in growth rate, apoptosis, and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases expression. Am. J. Respir. Cell Mol. Biol. 24, 591–598 (2001).
Tanaka, M., Sasaki, K., Kamata, R. & Sakai, R. The C-terminus of ephrin-B1 regulates metalloproteinase secretion and invasion of cancer cells. J. Cell Sci. 120, 2179–2189 (2007).
Selman, M., Pardo, A. & Kaminski, N. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: aberrant recapitulation of developmental programs? PLoS Med. 5, e62 (2008).
Selman, M., López-Otín, C. & Pardo, A. Age-driven developmental drift in the pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Eur. Respir. J. 48, 538–552 (2016).
Falivelli, G. et al. Attenuation of eph receptor kinase activation in cancer cells by coexpressed ephrin ligands. PLoS One 8, e81445 (2013).
Tager, A.M. et al. The lysophosphatidic acid receptor LPA1 links pulmonary fibrosis to lung injury by mediating fibroblast recruitment and vascular leak. Nat. Med. 14, 45–54 (2008).
Lagares, D. et al. Inhibition of focal adhesion kinase prevents experimental lung fibrosis and myofibroblast formation. Arthritis Rheum. 64, 1653–1664 (2012).
Kapoor, M. et al. Loss of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma in mouse fibroblasts results in increased susceptibility to bleomycin-induced skin fibrosis. Arthritis Rheum. 60, 2822–2829 (2009).
Raghu, G. et al. An official ATS/ERS/JRS/ALAT statement: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: evidence-based guidelines for diagnosis and management. Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 183, 788–824 (2011).
Authors would like to thank P. Datta, S. Nakamura, H. Endisha and J. Rockel (all from the University Health Network) for their technical assistance with mouse breeding and genotyping. The authors gratefully acknowledge funding support by University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre and University of Montreal (M.K.); Campaign to Cure Arthritis via the Toronto General and Western Foundation, University Health Network, Toronto (M.K.); an American Thoracic Society Foundation and Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Research Grant and the Marie A. Coyle Research Grant from the Scleroderma Foundation (D.L.), and by the National Institutes of Health, HL108975 and a grant from the Scleroderma Research Foundation (A.M.T).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Lagares, D., Ghassemi-Kakroodi, P., Tremblay, C. et al. ADAM10-mediated ephrin-B2 shedding promotes myofibroblast activation and organ fibrosis. Nat Med 23, 1405–1415 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nm.4419
Journal of Experimental Medicine (2020)
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences (2020)
Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets (2020)
Nature Reviews Rheumatology (2020)
Nature Communications (2020)