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Inflammatory Bowel Diseases:
doi: 10.1097/01.MIB.0000437615.98881.31
Original Basic Science Articles

Novel Rho/MRTF/SRF Inhibitors Block Matrix-stiffness and TGF-β–Induced Fibrogenesis in Human Colonic Myofibroblasts

Johnson, Laura A. BS*; Rodansky, Eva S. MS*; Haak, Andrew J. BS; Larsen, Scott D. PhD; Neubig, Richard R. MD, PhD; Higgins, Peter D. R. MD, PhD, MSc*

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Abstract

Background:

Ras homolog gene family, member A (RhoA)/Rho-associated coiled-coil forming protein kinase signaling is a key pathway in multiple types of solid organ fibrosis, including intestinal fibrosis. However, the pleiotropic effects of RhoA/Rho-associated coiled-coil forming protein kinase signaling have frustrated targeted drug discovery efforts. Recent recognition of the role of Rho-regulated gene transcription by serum response factor (SRF) and its transcriptional cofactor myocardin-related transcription factor A (MRTF-A) suggest a novel locus for pharmacological intervention.

Methods:

Because RhoA signaling is mediated by both physical and biochemical stimuli, we examined whether pharmacological inhibition of RhoA or the downstream transcription pathway of MRTF-A/SRF could block intestinal fibrogenesis in 2 in vitro models.

Results:

In this study, we demonstrate that inhibition of RhoA signaling blocks both matrix-stiffness and transforming growth factor beta–induced fibrogenesis in human colonic myofibroblasts. Repression of alpha-smooth muscle actin and collagen expression was associated with the inhibition of MRTF-A nuclear localization. CCG-1423, a first-generation Rho/MRTF/SRF pathway inhibitor, repressed fibrogenesis in both models, yet has unacceptable cytotoxicity. Novel second-generation inhibitors (CCG-100602 and CCG-203971) repressed both matrix-stiffness and transforming growth factor beta–mediated fibrogenesis as determined by protein and gene expression in a dose-dependent manner.

Conclusions:

Targeting the Rho/MRTF/SRF mechanism with second-generation Rho/MRTF/SRF inhibitors may represent a novel approach to antifibrotic therapeutics.

Copyright © 2013 Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.

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