Tetraspanin CD9 Is Associated With Very Late-Acting Integrins in Human Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells and Modulates Collagen Matrix Reorganization

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Abstract

CD9, a member of the tetraspanin family, and very late-acting (VLA) integrins are known to associate and form functional units on the surface of several cell types. We studied the changes in expression of CD9 and beta1-integrins (CD29, VLA) in human vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) under in vitro culture conditions mimicking proliferative vascular diseases. We also investigated possible interactions between CD9 and VLA integrins in VSMCs. We found that CD9 is highly expressed in VSMCs and is subject to modulation, depending on the proliferative/contractile state of the cells. In the contractile phenotype, the levels of CD9, CD81, another tetraspanin, and CD29 are [tilde operator]50% of those found in the proliferative phenotype. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments showed physical association between CD9 and CD29. CD9 was mainly associated with alpha2 and alpha3-integrins (CD49b and c) and also with alpha5-integrin to a weaker extent. Functionally, the addition of anti-CD9 monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) doubled the extent of collagen gel contraction mediated by VSMCs, a model for the reorganization of the extracellular collagen matrix occurring in the vessel wall. Anti-CD29 MoAbs inhibited gel contraction, but anti-CD9 MoAbs counteracted this inhibitory effect of anti-CD29 MoAbs. Transfection of human CD9 into Chinese hamster ovary cells more than doubled the extent of Chinese hamster ovary cell-mediated collagen gel contraction (130% stimulation), confirming a role for CD9 in extracellular matrix reorganization. Thus, CD9 seems to be involved in the modulation of VLA integrin-mediated collagen matrix reorganization by VSMCs. These findings suggest that high CD9 expression is associated with a proliferative state of VSMCs. The role of CD9 could be to modulate the function of VLA integrins on the surface of VSMCs. (Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1998;18:1691-1697.)

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