TGFbeta induces binucleation/polyploidization in hepatocytes through a src-Dependent cytokinesis failure

Marco De Santis Puzzonia, Angela Maria Cozzolino, Germana Grassi, Francesca Bisceglia, Raffaele Strippoli, Giulia Guarguaglini, Franca Citarella, Benedetto Sacchetti, Marco Tripodi, Alessandra Marchetti, Laura Amicone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In all mammals, the adult liver shows binucleated as well as mononucleated polyploid hepatocytes. The hepatic polyploidization starts after birth with an extensive hepatocyte binucleation and generates hepatocytes of several ploidy classes. While the functional significance of hepatocyte polyploidy is becoming clearer, how it is triggered and maintained needs to be clarified. Aim of this study was to identify a major inducer of hepatocyte binucleation/polyploidization and the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved. We found that, among several cytokines analyzed, known to be involved in early liver development and/or mass control, TGFbeta1 was capable to induce, together with the expected morphological changes, binucleation in hepatocytes in culture. Most importantly, the pharmacological inhibition of TGFbeta signaling in healthy mice during weaning, when the physiological binucleation occurs, induced a significant decrease of hepatocyte binucleation rate, without affecting cell proliferation and hepatic index. The TGFbeta-induced hepatocyte binucleation resulted from a cytokinesis failure, as assessed by video microscopy, and is associated with a delocalization of the cytokinesis regulator RhoA-GTPase from the mid-body of dividing cells. The use of specific chemical inhibitors demonstrated that the observed events are Src-dependent. Finally, the restoration of a fully epithelial phenotype by TGFbeta withdrawal gave rise to a cell progeny capable to maintain the polyploid state. In conclusion, we identified TGFbeta as a major inducer of hepatocyte binucleation both in vitro and in vivo, thus ascribing a novel role to this pleiotropic cytokine. The production of binucleated/tetraploid hepatocytes is due to a cytokinesis failure controlled by the molecular axis TGFbeta/Src/ RhoA.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0167158
JournalPLoS One
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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