Image_3_The Role of GLI in the Regulation of Hepatic Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition in Biliary Atresia.TIF (419.35 kB)
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Image_3_The Role of GLI in the Regulation of Hepatic Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition in Biliary Atresia.TIF

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posted on 26.05.2022, 04:33 authored by Pu Siyu, Wang Junxiang, Wang Qi, Zhang Yimao, Jin Shuguang
Objective

To study the regulatory role of GLI1/GLI2, a nuclear transcription factor of the Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling pathway, in epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) related to hepatic fibrosis in patients with biliary atresia (BA).

Methods

The messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein expression levels of GLI1/GLI2, Snail/Slug, and other Shh- and EMT-related cytokines were tested in the liver tissues of BA patients and animals. Then, GLI1/GLI2 was silenced and overexpressed in mouse intrahepatic bile duct epithelial cells (mIBECs) and BA animals to investigate changes in the mRNA and protein expression of EMT key factors and liver fibrosis indicators. After silencing and overexpression of GLI1/GLI2, immunofluorescence was used to detect the expression of cytokeratin-19 (CK19) and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) in mIBECs, and hematoxylin and eosin (HE) staining and Masson staining were used to observe the degree of liver fibrosis in the BA animals.

Results

Compared with the control, the mRNA and protein expression levels of GLI2, Snail, vimentin, and α-SMA were significantly increased and those of E-cadherin were significantly decreased in liver tissue from BA patients and animals. Overexpression of GLI2 increased the mRNA and protein expression levels of Snail, vimentin, and α-SMA and that of E-cadherin was significantly decreased in mIBECs and BA animals. After GLI2 silencing, the opposite pattern was observed. Immunofluorescence detection showed enhanced expression of the bile duct epithelial cell marker CK19 in mIBECs after GLI2 silencing and enhanced expression of the mesenchymal cell marker α-SMA after GLI2 overexpression. HE and Masson staining suggested that the GLI2-overexpressing group had a significantly higher degree of fibrosis.

Conclusion

The Shh signaling pathway plays an important role in fibrogenesis in BA. GLI2 can significantly regulate EMT in mIBECs and livers of BA mice.

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