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Oehrle, Bettina; Burgstaller, Gerald; Irmler, Martin; Dehmel, Stefan; Gruen, Jessica; Hwang, Tiffany; Krauss-Etschmann, Susanne; Beckers, Johannes; Meiners, Silke and Eickelberg, Oliver (2015): Validated prediction of pro-invasive growth factors using a transcriptome-wide invasion signature derived from a complex 3D invasion assay. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 5, 12673 [PDF, 1MB]

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The invasion of activated fibroblasts represents a key pathomechanism in fibrotic diseases, carcinogenesis and metastasis. Invading fibroblasts contribute to fibrotic extracellular matrix (ECM) formation and the initiation, progression, or resistance of cancer. To construct transcriptome-wide signatures of fibroblast invasion, we used a multiplex phenotypic 3D invasion assay using lung fibroblasts. Microarray-based gene expression profiles of invading and non-invading fibroblasts demonstrated that 1, 049 genes were differentially regulated (>1.5-fold). Unbiased pathway analysis (Ingenuity) identified significant enrichment for the functional clusters 'invasion of cells','idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis',and 'metastasis'. Matrix metalloprotease 13 (MMP13),transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta 1, Caveolin (Cav) 1, Phosphatase and Tensin Homolog (Pten),and secreted frizzled-related protein (Sfrp) 1 were among the highest regulated genes, confirmed by qRT-PCR and Western Blotting. We next performed in silico analysis (Ingenuity Pathway Analysis) to predict mediators that induced fibroblast invasion. Of these, TGF beta 1, epidermal growth factor (EGF),fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 2, and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB were tested in our 3D invasion assay and found to significantly induce invasion, thus validating the transcriptome profile. Accordingly, our transcriptomic invasion signature describes the invading fibroblast phenotype in unprecedented detail and provides a tool for future functional studies of cell invasion and therapeutic modulation thereof using complex phenotypic assays.

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