Background Upregulation of cAMP-dependent and cAMP-independent PKA signaling is thought to promote cystogenesis in polycystic kidney disease (PKD). PKA-I regulatory subunit RIa is increased in kidneys of orthologous mouse models. Kidney-specific knockout of RIa upregulates PKA activity, induces cystic disease in wild-type mice, and aggravates it in Pkd1RC/RC mice. Methods PKA-I activation or inhibition was compared with EPAC activation or PKA-II inhibition using Pkd1RC/RC metanephric organ cultures. The effect of constitutive PKA (preferentially PKA-I) downregulation in vivo was ascertained by kidney-specific expression of a dominant negative RIaB allele in Pkd1RC/RC mice obtained by crossing Prkar1aR1aB/WT, Pkd1RC/RC, and Pkhd1-Cre mice (C57BL/6 background). The effect of pharmacologic PKA inhibition using a novel, selective PRKACA inhibitor (BLU2864) was tested in mIMCD3 3D cultures, metanephric organ cultures, and Pkd1RC/RC mice on a C57BL/6 3 129S6/Sv F1 background. Mice were sacrificed at 16 weeks of age. Results PKA-I activation promoted and inhibition prevented ex vivo P-Ser133 CREB expression and cystogenesis. EPAC activation or PKA-II inhibition had no or only minor effects. BLU2864 inhibited in vitro mIMCD3 cystogenesis and ex vivo P-Ser133 CREB expression and cystogenesis. Genetic downregulation of PKA activity and BLU2864 directly and/or indirectly inhibited many pro-proliferative pathways and were both protective in vivo. BLU2864 had no detectable on- or off-target adverse effects. Conclusions PKA-I is the main PKA isozyme promoting cystogenesis. Direct PKA inhibition may be an effective strategy to treat PKD and other conditions where PKA signaling is upregulated. By acting directly on PKA, the inhibition may be more effective than or substantially increase the efficacy of treatments that only affect PKA activity by lowering cAMP.
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