Endothelia in the atrioventricular (AV) canal of the developing heart undergo a prototypical epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) to begin heart valve formation. Using an in vitro invasion assay, an extracellular matrix protein found in the heart, Olfactomedin-1 (OLFM1), increases mesenchymal cell numbers. Both anti-OLFM1 antibody and OLFM1 siRNA treatment inhibit mesenchymal cell formation. OLFM1 does not alter cell proliferation, migration or apoptosis. Dispersion, but lack of invasion in the presence of inhibiting antibody, identifies a specific role for OLFM1 in cell invasion during EMT. This role is conserved in other epithelia, as OLFM1 similarly enhances invasion by MDCK epithelial cells in a trans-well assay. OLFM-1 activity is cooperative with TGFβ, as synergy is observed when TGFβ2 and OLFM1 are added to MDCK cell cultures. Inhibition of both OLFM1 and TGFβ in heart invasion assays shows a similar cooperative role during development. To explore OLFM1 activity during EMT, representative EMT markers were examined. Effects of OLFM1 protein and anti-OLFM1 on transcripts of cell-cell adhesion molecules and the transcription factors, Snail-1, Snail-2, Twist1, and Sox-9, argue that OLFM1 does not initiate EMT. Rather, regulation of transcripts of Zeb1 and Zeb2, secreted proteases and mesenchymal cell markers by both OLFM1 and anti-OLFM1 is consistent with regulation of the cell invasion step of EMT. We conclude that OLFM1 is present and necessary during EMT in the embryonic heart. Its role in cell invasion and mesenchymal cell gene regulation suggests an invasion checkpoint in EMT where OLFM1 acts to promote cell invasion into the three-dimensional matrix.
- Received July 20, 2012.
- Accepted December 12, 2012.
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