Previously, we demonstrated that growth arrest-specific protein 6 (Gas6)/Axl or Mer signaling inhibited the transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1-induced epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) in lung epithelial cells. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) has also been shown to inhibit TGF-β1-induced changes in EMT markers. Here, we examined whether Gas6 signaling can induce the production of HGF and c-Met in lung alveolar epithelial cells to mediate the inhibition of EMT and to inhibit the migration and invasion of epithelial cells. The inhibition of the RhoA/Rho kinase pathway, using either a RhoA-targeted small interfering RNA (siRNA) or the Rho kinase pharmacologic inhibitor Y27362, prevented the inhibition of TGF-β1-induced EMT in LA-4 cells and primary alveolar type II (AT II) epithelial cells. The c-Met antagonist PHA-665752 also blocked the anti-EMT effects associated with Gas6. Moreover, treatment with Y27362 or PHA-665752 prevented the Gas6-mediated inhibition of TGF-β1-induced migration and invasion. Our data provided evidence that the RhoA-dependent production of HGF and c-Met mediated the Gas6-induced inhibition of EMT, migration and invasion in lung alveolar epithelial cells. Thus, Gas6/Axl and Mer/RhoA signaling may be necessary for the maintenance of homeostasis in the alveolar epithelium, via HGF and c-Met.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) and funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (2010-0027945 and 2017R1A2B2004).
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
- Growth arrest-specific protein 6
- Hepatocyte growth factor
- Lung epithelial cells