Laminin-driven Epac/Rap1 regulation of epithelial barriers on decellularized matrix



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Acta Biomaterialia



First Page


Last Page





Alveolar, Barrier function, Decellularization, Epac, Laminin, Lungs


Decellularized tissues offer a unique tool for developing regenerative biomaterials or in vitro platforms for the study of cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions. One main challenge associated with decellularized lung tissue is that ECM components can be stripped away or altered by the detergents used to remove cellular debris. Without characterizing the composition of lung decellularized ECM (dECM) and the cellular response caused by the altered composition, it is difficult to utilize dECM for regeneration and specifically, engineering the complexities of the alveolar-capillary barrier. This study takes steps towards uncovering if dECM must be enhanced with lost ECM proteins to achieve proper epithelial barrier formation. To achieve this, the epithelial barrier function was assessed on dECM coatings with and without the systematic addition of several key basement membrane proteins. After comparing barrier function on collagen I, fibronectin, laminin, and dECM in varying combinations as an in vitro coating, the alveolar epithelium exhibited superior barrier function when dECM was supplemented with laminin as evidenced by trans-epithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and permeability assays. Increased barrier resistance with laminin addition was associated with upregulation of Claudin-18, E-cadherin, and junction adhesion molecule (JAM)-A, and stabilization of zonula occludens (ZO)-1 at junction complexes. The Epac/Rap1 pathway was observed to play a role in the ECM-mediated barrier function determined by protein expression and Epac inhibition. These findings revealed potential ECM coatings and molecular therapeutic targets for improved regeneration with decellularized scaffolds. Statement of significance: Efforts to produce a transplantable organ-scale biomaterial for lung regeneration has not been entirely successful to date, due to incomplete cell-cell junction formation, ultimately leading to severe edema in vivo. To fully understand the process of alveolar junction formation on ECM-derived biomaterials, this research has characterized and tailored decellularized ECM (dECM) to mitigate reductions in barrier strength or cell attachment caused by abnormal ECM compositions or detergent damage to dECM. These results indicate that laminin-driven Epac signaling plays a vital role in the stabilization of the alveolar barrier. Addition of laminin or Epac agonists during alveolar regeneration can reduce epithelial permeability within bioengineered lungs.

Open Access

Green Accepted