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Cathelicidin LL37 Promotes Epithelial and Smooth-Muscle-Like Differentiation of Adipose-Derived Stem Cells through the Wnt/β-Catenin and NF-κB Pathways

Yongwei Li1#, Zhengfei Shan1#, Bin Yang2#, Diandong Yang1, Changping Men1, Yuanshan Cui1, and Jitao Wu1*

1Department of Urology Surgery, Qingdao University, Affiliated Yantai Yuhuangding Hospital, 264000 Yantai, China; E-mail: wujitao224@126.com

2Department of Gynecology, Qingdao University, Affiliated Yantai, Yuhuangding Hospital, 264000 Yantai, China

# These authors contributed equally to this work.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received May 22, 2017; Revision received June 30, 2017
Ureter reconstruction is a difficult procedure in urology. Adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs), along with multipotency and self-renewal capacity, are a preferred choice for tissue engineering-based ureteral reconstruction. We explored the synergic role of cathelicidin LL37 (LL37) in epithelial and smooth-muscle-like differentiation. ADSCs were separated from adipose tissues of mouse and characterized by flow cytometry. The ADSCs were then stably transfected with pGC-FU-GFP (pGC) or pGC containing full-length LL37 (pGC-LL37), respectively. Cell viability and apoptosis were respectively estimated in the stably transfected cells and non-transfected cells. Then, qRT-PCR and Western blot analysis were used for determinations of epithelial marker expressions after induction by all-trans retinoic acid as well as smooth-muscle-like marker expressions after induction by transforming growth factor-β1. Then, possibly involved signaling pathways and extracellular expression of LL37 were detected. Cell viability and apoptosis were not changed after LL37 overexpression. Expression levels of epithelial and smooth-muscle-like markers were significantly upregulated by LL37 overexpression. Moreover, expressions of key kinases involved in the Wnt/β-catenin pathway as well as epithelial marker were upregulated by the LL37 overexpression, while it was reversed by Wnt/β-catenin inhibitor. Likewise, expressions of key kinases involved in the nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) pathway as well as smooth-muscle-like markers were upregulated by LL37 overexpression, which was reversed by NF-κB inhibitor. LL37 was found in the culture medium. LL37, which could be released into the medium, had no impact on cell proliferation and apoptosis of ADSCs. However, LL37 promoted epithelial and smooth-muscle-like differentiation through activating the Wnt/β-catenin and NF-κB pathways, respectively.
KEY WORDS: tissue engineering-based ureteral reconstruction, ADSCs, cathelicidin LL37, epithelial and smooth-muscle-like differentiation, Wnt/β-catenin and NF-κB pathways

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297917110116