Abstract: Various cell surface receptors play an important role in the differentiation and self-renewal of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). One example of such receptors are the cadherins, which maintain cell-cell adhesion and mechanically couple cells together. Recently, cadherin-11, which is a member of the type II classical cadherin family, has been shown to be involved in the fate commitment of hMSCs. Interestingly, cadherin-11 has no known intrinsic signaling activity and is thought to affect cell behavior via interactions with other cell surface receptors. Members of the platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) family are hypothesized to be one of the interaction partners of cadherin-11. Experiments confirmed that PDGFR-α binding to extracellular cadherin-11 regions increases the PDGFR-α activity, whereas the interaction between PDGFR-β and cadherin-11 suppresses the activity of the growth factor receptor. Cadherin-11 knockdown experiments also decreased cell proliferation. These interactions between cadherin-11 and PDGFRs indicate a crosstalk between these receptors and their downstream signaling activities but the nature of this crosstalk is not entirely known. In this study, we used a computational model to represent the experimentally proven interactions between cadherin-11 and the two PDGFRs and we inspected whether the crosstalk also exists downstream of the signaling initiated by the two receptor families. The computational framework allowed us to monitor the relative activity levels of each protein in the network. We performed model simulations to mimic the conditions of previous cadherin-11 knockdown experiments and to predict the effect of crosstalk on cell proliferation. Overall, our predictions suggest the existence of another layer of crosstalk, namely between Beta-catenin (downstream to cadherin-11) and an ERK inhibitor protein (e.g., DUSP1), different than the crosstalk at the receptor level between cadherin-11 and PDGFR-α and PDGFR-β. By investigating the multi-level crosstalk between cadherin and PDGFRs computationally, this study contributes to an improved understanding of the effect of cell surface receptors on hMSCs proliferation.

Journal Link: 10.1101/2022.11.08.514892 Journal Link: Publisher Website Journal Link: Download PDF Journal Link: Google Scholar