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SEMA7a primes integrin α5β1 engagement instructing fibroblast mechanotransduction, phenotype and transcriptional programming 

Dr. Ping Hu publishes on his work detailing SEMA7a priming of integrin

Integrins are cellular receptors that bind the extracellular matrix (ECM) and facilitate the transduction of biochemical and biophysical microenvironment cues into cellular responses. Upon engaging the ECM, integrin heterodimers must rapidly strengthen their binding with the ECM, resulting in the assembly of force-resistant and force-sensitive integrin associated complexes (IACs). The IACs constitute an essential apparatus for downstream signaling and fibroblast phenotypes. During wound healing, integrin signaling is essential for fibroblast motility, proliferation, ECM reorganization and, ultimately, restoration of tissue homeostasis. Semaphorin 7A (SEMA7a) has been previously implicated in post-injury inflammation and tissue fibrosis, yet little is known about SEMA7a's role in directing stromal cell, particularly fibroblast, behaviors. We demonstrate that SEMA7a regulates integrin signaling through cis-coupling with active integrin α5β1 in cis on the plasma membrane, enabling rapid integrin adhesion strengthening to fibronectin (Fn) and normal downstream mechanotransduction. This molecular function of SEMA7a potently regulates fibroblast adhesive, cytoskeletal, and migratory phenotype with strong evidence of downstream alterations in chromatin structure resulting in global transcriptomic reprogramming such that loss of SEMA7a expression is sufficient to impair the normal migratory and ECM assembly phenotype of fibroblasts resulting in significantly delayed tissue repair in vivo.