The role of Smad2 and Smad3 in regulating homeostatic functions of fibroblasts in vitro and in adult mice

Shuaibo Huang, Bijun Chen, Claudio Humeres, Linda Alex, Anis Hanna, Nikolaos G. Frangogiannis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The heart contains an abundant fibroblast population that may play a role in homeostasis, by maintaining the extracellular matrix (ECM) network, by regulating electrical impulse conduction, and by supporting survival and function of cardiomyocytes and vascular cells. Despite an explosion in our understanding of the role of fibroblasts in cardiac injury, the homeostatic functions of resident fibroblasts in adult hearts remain understudied. TGF-β-mediated signaling through the receptor-activated Smads, Smad2 and Smad3 critically regulates fibroblast function. We hypothesized that baseline expression of Smad2/3 in fibroblasts may play an important role in cardiac homeostasis. Smad2 and Smad3 were constitutively expressed in normal mouse hearts and in cardiac fibroblasts. In cultured cardiac fibroblasts, Smad2 and Smad3 played distinct roles in regulation of baseline ECM gene synthesis. Smad3 knockdown attenuated collagen I, collagen IV and fibronectin mRNA synthesis and reduced expression of the matricellular protein thrombospondin-1. Smad2 knockdown on the other hand attenuated expression of collagen V mRNA and reduced synthesis of fibronectin, periostin and versican. In vivo, inducible fibroblast-specific Smad2 knockout mice and fibroblast-specific Smad3 knockout mice had normal heart rate, preserved cardiac geometry, ventricular systolic and diastolic function, and normal myocardial structure. Fibroblast-specific Smad3, but not Smad2 loss modestly but significantly reduced collagen content. Our findings suggest that fibroblast-specific Smad3, but not Smad2, may play a role in regulation of baseline collagen synthesis in adult hearts. However, at least short term, these changes do not have any impact on homeostatic cardiac function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118703
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Collagen
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Fibroblast
  • Myocardium
  • Smad
  • TGF-β

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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