Article Text

Download PDFPDF
A critical role of serum response factor in myofibroblast differentiation during experimental oesophageal ulcer healing in rats
  1. Jianyuan Chai,
  2. Manith Norng,
  3. Andrzej S Tarnawski,
  4. Justine Chow
  1. Department of Research, VA Long Beach Healthcare System, Long Beach, CA, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Chai
    Department of Research (151), VA Long Beach Healthcare System, 5901 E 7th St, Long Beach, CA 90822, USA; jianyuan.chai{at}


Background: Myofibroblast differentiation is a key event during wound healing and is triggered primarily by transforming growth factor β (TGFβ). Serum response factor (SRF) is a TGFβ-inducible transcription factor that is important for wound healing. Injection of SRF expression plasmid into rat gastric ulcers significantly accelerated restoration of epithelium and smooth muscle structures.

Aim: To determine the role of SRF in oesophageal ulcer healing, especially in myofibroblast differentiation.

Subjects: Rats (in vivo), oesophageal epithelial cells (Het1A) and fibroblasts (Rat1-R12) (in vitro) were used.

Methods: Oesophageal ulcers were induced in rats with acetic acid and subsequently treated by local injection of plasmids expressing either SRF or SRF antisense sequence. Rats were killed at 1, 3, 6, 9 and 14 days after treatment and tissues collected. For in vitro studies, both Het1A and Rat1-R12 cells were transfected with the plasmids used in ulcer treatment.

Results: Upregulation of SRF increased the myofibroblast population in ulcer granulation tissue; knockdown of SRF suppressed this event. In addition, ulceration induced SRF and TGFβ expression coordinately. In vitro studies showed that overexpression of SRF in either oesophageal epithelial cells or fibroblasts was sufficient to induce myofibroblast phenotype. Furthermore, the TGFβ-induced myofibroblast phenotype required integrin-linked kinase (ILK)-mediated SRF activation, as either knockdown of SRF or inactivation of ILK prevented this action.

Conclusions: SRF is indispensable for myofibroblast differentiation during oesophageal ulcer healing and is required for TGFβ-induced myofibroblast transition from either epithelial cells or fibroblasts. ILK is a mediator in TGFβ-induced SRF activation and subsequent myofibroblast differentiation. ILK is associated with SRF, and TGFβ enhances this association.

  • EMT, epithelial–mesenchymal transition
  • ILK, integrin-linked kinase
  • ILK(−), inactivation of ILK
  • MBP, myelin basic protein
  • SM α-actin, smooth muscle α-actin
  • SRE, serum response element
  • SRF, serum response factor
  • SRF(+), overexpression of SRF
  • SRF(−), knockdown of SRF
  • TGFβ1, transforming growth factor β1
  • serum response factor
  • integrin-linked kinase
  • transforming growth factor β
  • cell differentiation
  • ulcer

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Published Online First 15 October 2006

  • Competing interests: None.