Myofibroblast differentiation is required for wound healing and accompanied by activation of smooth muscle α-actin (SMαA) gene expression. The stress-response protein, Y-box binding protein-1 (YB-1) binds SMαA mRNA and regulates its translational activity. Activation of SMαA gene expression in human pulmonary myofibroblasts by TGFβ1 was associated with formation of denaturation-resistant YB-1 oligomers with selective affinity for a known translation-silencer sequence in SMαA mRNA. We have determined that YB-1 is a substrate for the protein-crosslinking enzyme transglutaminase 2 (TG2) that catalyzes calcium-dependent formation of covalent γ-glutamyl-isopeptide linkages in response to reactive oxygen signaling. TG2 transamidation reactions using intact cells, cell lysates, and recombinant YB-1 revealed covalent crosslinking of the 50 kDa YB-1 polypeptide into protein oligomers that were distributed during SDS–PAGE over a 75–250 kDa size range. In vitro YB-1 transamidation required nanomolar levels of calcium and was enhanced by the presence of SMαA mRNA. In human pulmonary fibroblasts, YB-1 crosslinking was inhibited by (a) anti-oxidant cystamine, (b) the reactive-oxygen antagonist, diphenyleneiodonium, (c) competitive inhibition of TG2 transamidation using the aminyl-surrogate substrate, monodansylcadaverine, and (d) transfection with small-interfering RNA specific for human TG2 mRNA. YB-1 crosslinking was partially reversible as a function of oligomer-substrate availability and TG2 enzyme concentration. Intracellular calcium accumulation and peroxidative stress in injury-activated myofibroblasts may govern SMαA mRNA translational activity during wound healing via TG2-mediated crosslinking of the YB-1 mRNA-binding protein. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 2753–2769, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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