Mechanisms of Hepatocyte Growth Factor-Mediated Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Migration

Harry Ma, Tina M. Calderon, Tamar Kessel, Anthony W. Ashton, Joan W. Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The migration of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) from the media into the neointima and their subsequent proliferation is important in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. This process is regulated by multiple factors, including growth factors, and involves changes in the interaction of SMCs with the extracellular matrix and in intracellular signaling cascades that regulate cell movement. We demonstrated previously that hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is expressed in human atherosclerotic plaques. Although HGF has been shown to promote SMC migration, the mechanisms involved in this process have not been characterized fully. In this study, inhibitory antibodies were used to determine which integrins mediated HGF-induced SMC migration. Inhibition of β1 or β3 integrin resulted in a significant decrease in migration. Subsequent experiments were performed to characterize additional biochemical mechanisms involved in HGF-mediated migration. HGF induced the redistribution of focal adhesions, the activation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk2) and their increased association with β1 and β3 integrins, and the production of pro-matrix metalloproteinase-2. Migration levels were significantly reduced by cotreatment of SMCs with the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) inhibitor, UO126, the p38 inhibitor, SB203580, or the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase inhibitor, LY294002. In HGF-treated SMCs, focal adhesion redistribution and FAK and Pyk2 activation were decreased by ERK1/2 inhibition. Neither SB203580 nor LY294002 inhibited HGF-induced ERK1/2 activation. Thus, ERK1/2 signaling may play an important role in HGF-mediated SMC migration by contributing to focal adhesion redistribution and FAK and Pyk2 activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1066-1073
Number of pages8
JournalCirculation research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 28 2003


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cell signaling
  • Integrins
  • Migration
  • Smooth muscle cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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