Research ArticleTissue Repair

Galectin-3 initiates epithelial-stromal paracrine signaling to shape the proteolytic microenvironment during corneal repair

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Science Signaling  16 Jul 2019:
Vol. 12, Issue 590, eaaw7095
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aaw7095

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Epithelial-stromal paracrine signaling for corneal repair

Injuries to epithelia that breach the basement membrane allow epithelial cells to come into contact with the underlying stroma. Epithelial-stromal interactions are critical for matrix remodeling and repair of the damaged tissue. AbuSamra et al. found that contact with corneal fibroblasts stimulated corneal epithelial cells to produce the matrix metalloprotease MMP9. The carbohydrate-binding protein galectin-3 from epithelial cells stimulated fibroblasts to produce the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β, which in turn stimulated MMP9 expression in the epithelial cells. This paracrine signaling network was required for the healing of corneal wounds in vivo only if the wounds breached the basement membrane. Because galectin-3 is associated with various tissue remodeling events, this galectin-3–induced epithelial-stromal paracrine network may also be relevant in other pathophysiological contexts in which microenvironment remodeling plays a critical role, such as cancer cell invasion and metastasis.

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