Biotechnology Letters

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 437–444 | Cite as

p70S6K activation promotes the transdifferentiation of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts in pterygium tissue growth on the cornea

  • Xin-Rong Zhao
  • Ming-Chang Zhang
  • Hua-Tao Xie
  • Nan Ji
  • Le-Tian Sun
Original Research Paper



To investigate the role of p70S6K in the transdifferentiation of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts in pterygium tissue growth on the cornea.


Quantitative real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry showed that p70S6K expression was higher in pterygium tissues than in normal conjunctival tissues. Higher p70S6K RNA expression levels were correlated with higher pterygium grades. Additionally, western blot analysis revealed that phosphorylated (activated) p70S6K (p-p70S6K) expression was significantly correlated with α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA, a hallmark of transdifferentiation) expression in cultured human pterygium fibroblasts (HPFs). Furthermore, p70S6K knockdown and the specific mTOR inhibitor rapamycin decreased the expression levels of p-p70S6K and α-SMA in cultured fibroblasts from grade T3 pterygium.


p70S6K activation promotes the transdifferentiation of pterygium fibroblasts to myofibroblasts. Thus, targeting p70S6K may be a useful strategy in the management of pterygium.


Cornea Human pterygium fibroblasts p70S6K Pterygium tissue α-Smooth muscle actin Transdifferentiation 



This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants Nos. 81370993; 81300736).

Supporting information

Supplementary Table 1—Sequences of PCR primers.

Supplementary Table 2—Differences in p-p70S6K protein expression between in pterygium tissues and conjunctival controls.

Author contributions

X-RZ: study conception and design, data collection and assembly, data analysis and interpretation, and manuscript writing; M-CZ: provision of study materials, acquisition of financial support, and data analysis and interpretation; H-TX: acquisition of financial support and data analysis and interpretation; NJ: data collection and assembly, data analysis and interpretation; L-TS: data collection and analysis.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no financial conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

10529_2017_2488_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xin-Rong Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ming-Chang Zhang
    • 1
  • Hua-Tao Xie
    • 1
  • Nan Ji
    • 2
  • Le-Tian Sun
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Ophthalmology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical CollegeHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina
  2. 2.Department of Ophthalmology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Medical CollegeShihezi UniversityShiheziChina

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