TGF beta 1 promotes actin cytoskeleton reorganization and migratory phenotype in epithelial tracheal cells in primary culture.
Primary rat tracheal epithelial (RTE) cell cultures have previously been shown to be highly sensitive to growth inhibition by transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF beta 1) when treated within 1-2 days after plating. The purpose of the present studies was to examine the effects of TGF beta 1 on the growth of RTE cells as a function of time in culture. We found that the sensitivity of RTE cells to growth inhibition by TGF beta 1 decreased dramatically as the cultures aged. The IC50 for inhibition of colony forming efficiency was 0.18 pM when TGF beta 1 was added 24 h after cell plating. When TGF beta 1 treatment was begun on day 5 of culture, the IC50 was 3-4 pM as measured by inhibition of growth (cell number) and DNA synthesis. However, when TGF beta 1 was begun on day 19, the IC50 was 65 pM or greater than 500 pM, depending on whether inhibition of growth or DNA synthesis, respectively, was measured. TGF beta 1 accelerated cell death, as measured by exfoliation of cells, and inhibited cell proliferation. The decrease in responsiveness to TGF beta 1 in late cultures was shown to be dependent on culture age as well as on cell density. No evidence was found for inactivation or degradation of the added TGF beta 1 by the late stage cultures. Cells subcultured from late stage primary cultures remained less responsive to TGF beta 1 than subcultured cells from early cultures. Similar to its effect on proliferation, TGF beta 1 down-regulated the expression of two proliferation-related genes, c-myc and transforming growth factor-alpha, in early but not late RTE cell cultures. On the other hand, fibronectin expression was increased by TGF beta 1 by about twofold at both early and late times in culture. This indicates that the changes in TGF beta 1 responsiveness with time in culture are selective, apparently affecting primarily proliferation-related events.