Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Nancy Rice (Director), Dr. Sigrid Jacobshagen, Dr. Claire Rinehart

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is an interstitial lung disease leading to decreased lung volume and eventual respiratory failure. At present, the median post-diagnosis lifespan is between three and six years. Myofibroblasts are collagen-secreting cells essential for wound healing, but also implicated in the fibroproliferation and extra cellular matrix deposition commonly seen in IPF. The nitric oxide (NO) signaling pathway is implicated in protomyofibroblast to myofibroblast transition and regulation. Previous work has shown that in pulmonary myofibroblasts, endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) is the primary NOS isoform expressed. The current study used cultured rat pulmonary myofibroblasts between passages two and five as a cell model. The cells were grown in normal growth media (DMEM + 10% FBS) or serum starved (DMEM + 0% FBS) to induce cellular differentiation. In this study, immunocytochemistry was used to show localization of eNOS is dependent on cellular differentiation, with protomyofibroblasts expressing eNOS primarily in the nucleus and protomyofibroblasts expressing eNOS in the perinuclear region. We also show catalytic activity and localization of eNOS are correlated by visualizing nitric oxide production in the cells using a permeable fluorescein chromophore. By using western blot analysis on fractionated cell lysates we found eNOS expressed in the nucleus under normal growth conditions. eNOS is at least partially regulated by intracellular calcium (Ca2+) and calmodulin (CaM). Western blot analysis using native eNOS and phospho-specific eNOS antibodies on fractionated cells treated with the protein kinase C (PKC) activator phorbal 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) with and without addition of its antagonist ethylene glycol tetraacetic acid (EGTA) was conducted to investigate PKC’s role in eNOS regulation by phosphorylation. Indeed, PKC activation was found to mitigate expression in the nucleus, while inhibition of the activator restored the activity expression above basal levels. This finding correlates with previous data from our lab showing a decrease in activity in myofibroblasts treated with PMA and assayed amperometrically with an NO electrode.


Cell and Developmental Biology | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience | Systems and Integrative Physiology