Sonic Hedgehog Mediates the Proliferation and Recruitment of Transformed Mesenchymal Stem Cells to the Stomach

Jessica M. Donnelly, Ambreesh Chawla, Jean Marie Houghton, Yana Zavros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Studies using Helicobacter-infected mice show that bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can repopulate the gastric epithelium and promote gastric cancer progression. Within the tumor microenvironment of the stomach, pro-inflammatory cytokine interferon-gamma (IFNγ) and Sonic hedgehog (Shh) are elevated. IFNγ is implicated in tumor proliferation via activation of the Shh signaling pathway in various tissues but whether a similar mechanism exists in the stomach is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that IFNγ drives MSC proliferation and recruitment, a response mediated by Shh signaling. The current study uses transplantation of an in vitro transformed mesenchymal stem cell line (stMSCvect), that over-expresses hedgehog signaling, in comparison to non-transformed wild-type MSCs (wtMSCs), wtMSCs transfected to over-express Shh (wtMSCShh), and stMSCs transduced with lentiviral constructs containing shRNA targeting the Shh gene (stMSCShhKO). The effect of IFNγ on MSC proliferation was assessed by cell cycle analysis in vitro using cells treated with recombinant IFNγ (rmIFNγ) alone, or in combination with anti-Shh 5E1 antibody, and in vivo using mice transplanted with MSCs treated with PBS or rmIFNγ. In vitro, IFNγ significantly increased MSC proliferation, a response mediated by Shh that was blocked by 5E1 antibody. The MSC population collected from bone marrow of PBS- or IFNγ-treated mice showed that IFNγ significantly increased the percentage of all MSC cell lines in S phase, with the exception of the stMSCsShhKO cells. While the MSC cell lines with intact Shh expression were recruited to the gastric mucosa in response to IFNγ, stMSCsShhKO were not. Hedgehog signaling is required for MSC proliferation and recruitment to the stomach in response to IFNγ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere75225
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 19 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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